Lovely writing, rich settings, detailed characters, great story! The first few hours were a little slow, but once things got going I didn’t want to s..Show More »top listening! This surprised me several times, which is a very good thing. I really want to gab about this book so it’s going to be hard to discuss without giving too much away!
This is a fantasy first and foremost, and like many fantasies it’s also a coming of age story. On her sixteenth birthday, Princess Elisa is married to the king of a neighboring kingdom, and she realizes she doesn’t really know why the marriage needed to take place and that no one thought to tell her (and we readers notice she didn’t think to ask!). She begins to take steps towards adulthood by asserting herself and making some of her own decisions. It’s not long before the plot takes a dramatic turn and Elisa takes great leaps along with it. That’s when things start to really get good! Magic, political power struggles, war, adventure… Expect plot turns and a good dose of girl power!
I loved that Elisa is full-figured and not shy about enjoying food. As the story moves along she learns more about balance, but her body image and self-confidence issues made her very easy to relate to. I also loved that none of the characters were perfect on close examination. You could tell the author really knew everything about her characters and her beautiful settings – everything's so well detailed!
The magic and sorcery elements in the storyline come from the story's religion. Princess Elisa was “chosen” to carry a magic gemstone in her naval soon after she was born (okay, the naval bit is a little funny), and through it she’s in very slight communication to higher powers and possibly magics. Praying and sacred texts show up a lot, but in a way that moves the story forward rather than slowing the pace. The author took some elements from Christianity to start this fantasy religion and then totally went her own way with it. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, then this probably isn’t the book for you! Also, to any die hard romance novel readers out there, this is NOT a “girl meets boy and of course he’s her fated true love and they live happily ever after” story. There are romantic elements, but Elisa is the main focus instead of her romantic life, if that makes sense. Her story isn’t over. So pass on this one if that will be a deal-breaker for you.
This is the first book in a series but you could read it as a stand-alone. No terrible cliffhangers loom at the end, this gets to a reasonable conclusion with room for more to come later. I’ll definitely be getting the next books! Jennifer Ikeda reads beautifully. Once and a while her pace seemed a little more measured than I’d prefer, but she’s wonderful with voices and accents, and I’ll always be glad to see her name listed as narrator.
Highly recommended for lovers of fantasies and coming of age stories about girls you can really root for!
Audiobook Review: I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns traditionally and absolutely loved it. Besides enj..Show More »oying the narrator, the main reason I decided to listen to The Crown of Embers is because I don’t always like reading books in the middle of a series during the school year; most times I’d rather read a stand alone or the beginning of a series. I often save series continuations or endings for the summer when I feel like I have more freedom to read what I want, when I want. Anyway, I very much enjoyed Jennifer Ikeda as a narrator for this story. I honestly don’t know if I’ll read the third book traditionally or as an audio now that I’ve experienced both. What I liked most about listening to The Crown of Embers is being able to hear the correct pronunciations of names and places. I never knew how to pronounce Ximena while I was reading the first book, and of course, I was pronouncing it wrong. Jennifer Ikeda does a nice job bringing a different voice to each character and really bringing Elisa’s character to life.
Book Review: I love this series. Rae Carson is such a talented fantasy author. I can’t wait to read book three, but I’m even more excited to see what other worlds and stories she’ll write in the future. I love her use of imagery and pacing. Picturing the setting comes easily as does imagining the characters.
I can’t write this review without bringing up the relationship between Elisa and Hector. It’s such a strong friendship in the beginning and now it’s blossoming into something more. Even when Elisa was in love with Humberto, I was hoping she would recognize Hector as more than a guard. Their relationship might be a new favorite YA romance for me. Hector is so honorable and strong and Elisa is finally beginning to gain some self-confidence and strength. They’re a great match.
The Crown of Embers is a bit slower than The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but I think that’s because so much more of the story is building. Elisa is maturing and really finding herself as a carrier of the Godstone and also as a queen. We’re also learning more about the Godstone and we’re learning more about the realm. I’m excited to see where all of this build-up is going to take us in book three, especially with an ending like we have in this book! The ending is bittersweet, but it also left me feeling proud of Elisa.
Overall, I can’t recommend this series enough. I included The Girl of Fire and Thorns as a fantasy option in my YA II class and the majority of my students who chose it loved it. Many of them went on to read The Crown of Embers because they loved Elisa and her story so much.