Review: Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Bitter Kingdom by Rae CarsonBitter Kingdom
Rae Carson
Greenwillow Books
Published on August 27, 2013

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Bitter Kingdom
The champion must not waver.
The champion must not fear.
The gate of darkness closes.

Elisa is a fugitive.

Her enemies have stolen the man she loves, and they await her at the gate of darkness. Her country is on the brink of civil war, with her own soldiers ordered to kill her on sight.

Her Royal Majesty, Queen Lucero-Elisa né Riqueza de Vega, bearer of the Godstone, will lead her three loyal companions deep into the enemy’s kingdom, a land of ice and snow and brutal magic, to rescue Hector and win back her throne. Her power grows with every step, and the shocking secrets she will uncover on this, her final journey, could change the course of history.

But that is not all. She has a larger destiny. She must become the champion the world has been waiting for.

Even of those who hate her most.

My Review
The Fire and Thorns series might be my favorite fantasy series. Which is really saying something, right? But I loved the way faith is incorporated into the story so smoothly. I love that Elisa is super smart and not the stereotypical beautiful heroine with the willowy figure. I LOVE the relationship between her and Storm. That whole feisty, grudging respect thing totally had me hooked! I’m actually smiling just thinking back on it.

I only had one hiccup in the whole story, and it’s not a major thing in terms of plot or character. Just something I thought about that seemed odd to me. Lots of times someone with a holy calling or deep faith has mandates or guidelines for physical (sexual) purity. Elisa doesn’t really seem to have been brought up with any teaching or spiritual beliefs concerning her body in that way. I just found it a little odd, but it didn’t really affect the plot or story so much.

Elisa begins the first book in the series as a girl leaving her home to participate in an arranged marriage. So in the first book, she definitely seems like a teen, especially toward the beginning. By the end of this third book, she seems so much older. After all, she’s ruling a country and navigating some pretty tricky political situations. I still very much enjoyed the book, but younger readers who crave young protagonists facing more typical teen situations might not connect with Elisa and Hector as much.

On the whole, definitely a cool series. I’m glad to see a faith-positive story out there, too.

Bitter Kingdom on AmazonRecommended for Ages 16 up.

Cultural Elements
Major characters are described as having brown skin. Most are from a desert climate.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None.

Romance/Sexual Content
Elisa makes plans to have sex for the first time, including taking an oral form of birth control. She shares several passionate kisses with a man and invites him into her room to sleep with her. It’s clear they have sex and there are some vague details about it being wonderful but no play-by-play description of the event.

Spiritual Content
Elisa prays a lot and wants very much to please God with her life and her actions. (There’s no spiritual directions concerning her romantic relationships in any way. Or at least she doesn’t ever question whether sleeping with her lover would be wrong.) She remains faithful to her beliefs though there are a few moments where she realizes that what she was taught about history and the way her power works aren’t accurate.
Violent Content
Some descriptions of battle and fatal or near fatal injuries. Some descriptions of torture. One torture victim pleads to commit suicide. A swarm of scorpions kills a traveler.

Drug Content
None.

Bitter Kingdom on Goodreads

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About Kasey Giard

I'm a mama, reader, and writer. Passionate about peppermint (it's not just for Christmas, okay?!), fly fishing, and movie night.

2 Responses to Review: Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

  1. Sam@wlabb says:

    This is one of my favorite series. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this series. I attribute it all to Carson, because her Gold Seer Trilogy was amazing too.

    • Kasey Giard says:

      Oooooh! I’m so glad to hear that about the Gold Seer Trilogy! I hadn’t heard much about it, so I was kind of on the fence about reading it, but now I definitely have to give it a go. Thanks. 🙂

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