So this is a very late (sorry I started a new job) review of The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson. This was our March book club book. This is the finale of an epic fantasy trilogy so obviously there will be spoilers for a majority of this review. What I will say before that section I will say that this was an excellent book. In terms of scope the world continues to grow and grow. I still have world building questions but that’s okay because they are questions for the real world too. It was an incredible satisfying conclusion, all the story lines had conclusions that made sense but were surprising.
So now for in depth spoilers…
So the first and foremost this only bugged me but I don’t like that this book and the first book were split into parts but the second was not. It’s small and petty but I don’t like it. The only other thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the questions we are left with about the world. Elisa asks Storm so many questions about the history of the world and how God could give them the same language if they were the invaders, etc. Despite the fact that these questions are asked we don’t get any answers. I know that this book receives criticism for the fact that all the characters but one that die are female. I didn’t have a huge problem with this because it did feel proportional with the majority of the cast especially in this book being women.
I loved Elisa’s development as a queen and then again as an empress. She takes power and is ruthless but she is constantly thinking of her step-son and her adoptive country that this is the only way she knows how to protect. I loved how she grabbed power I love that she grabbed power despite the fact that it was the two people besides Hector she valued most. Mara and Belen’s relationship is incredibly sweet and hilarious. “If I survive will you marry me?” “No.” It really did well at sticking to traditional roles and allowing women to carry out their ambition, even when it was Mara’s to be lady-in-waiting. No goal was diminished.
- Red was my favorite addition to any series this late. She so cute. Her interactions with Rosario are so cute and also sad, not knowing how old she is. The proclamations about being so proud to be slave to a high lady and then to a queen upon this discovery. I love how fond the whole cold blooded crew became of her. Hector threatening to murder a guard for talking down to her. In a tense situation no one made fun of her made her important proclamation of her name.
- Alodia was possibly was my favorite minor character. Her embracing her sister with tears in her eyes. Her guilt but the reveal that their father had been dying the whole time, hence the urge to get Elisa married off and kept in the dark. She’s such a good queen and I love how much they try to give back each other, realizing once upon a time they were both jealous little kids.
- Storm and Alodia are going to be the most perfect couple and the second it happens it clicks. I love it I wished we got more scenes that Storm saying that she was magnificent.
Plot:, We’ve had desert, sea, and now mountains and blizzards. I do love how much the world gives to the plot, the setting is always important and Rae Carson really uses it.
- The missing chosen ones! This was my second time reading this book and it still shocks me the reveal of Lucero and his 100 year plan. It was so unexpected and yet incredibly logical. We knew as of book one that there are some that never complete service but were never recorded. We finally got it.
- The purpose of Elisa. Her godstone falling out after the discovery of an oasis. This was incredible. I loved that god’s purpose for her had nothing to do with her goals. I liked that if it weren’t for her friends and the family she had built for herself. Her purpose would have driven her insane like the other bearers. If there hadn’t been had help to dig it out her hands would have been bled raw.
- The ending was so lovely. Hector’s love for Rosario and he was being raised by parents that were involved and love him. Her wanting to have a history a real one, not just legends not just religion, so no other leader would feel like they were alone or couldn’t cope. So all bearers knew that their purpose didn’t have to focus their life.
End of story if you like fantasy this should be a must read trilogy for you. I loved the experience of reading this with my mom and sister as well. Especially as most of this is about the story of family, born, estranged, and found.