The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
In the concluding book of the Fire and Thorns trilogy one of our characters has been taken hostage by the enemy and Elisa must travel into enemy territory to get them back leaving behind her kingdom on the brink of civil war.
Lets start with the bad….I continue to be disappointed by the magic system. I remained underdeveloped throughout the whole series, and the explanations we get in this book quiet frankly didn’t make much sense. The political maneuvering in this book also left a bit to be desired, they all just missed the mark at being clever. Again the ultimate conflicts and resolutions seemed too easy and convenient. The whole plot and world building has quite a few holes if you take a close look at it.
The good….I loved the relationships in this! I liked all the friendships and romantic relationships in this, they were built on shared experiences and mutual respect. Almost everyone had good development and changed over the course of the series while staying true to who they are as characters. I appreciated that there was mature communication between characters in their friendly and romantic partnerships, nothing drives me more crazy then a plot based on miscommunication. I also really liked that the romantic relationships were equal partnerships without the typical overbearing protective (abusive) man trope. The adventures were fun with bandits, crazed magicians and sea voyages, and I enjoyed the crew she picked up along the way.
So is this series worth it? I think so, don’t go in expecting amazing world building and plot, but it was a fun adventure. I also think it is an awesome read for young people…especially girls as I think the representation of relationships is an important standout from many of the YA romances we see. There is discussions about body image, consent, communication (and how it is necessary) and respect.