The Bitter Kingdom: A Finale to a Trilogy Worth the Read!
You might remember we gushed pretty hard about Rae Carson’s debut (and the first novel in this trilogy) The Girl of Fire and Thorns. It was creative and different: a fantasy novel with a unique heroine that had to find herself over the course of three books. Now, with the release of The Bitter Kingdom, The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy is complete. So, how’d it do?
(As always, you won’t find any spoilers in this review. But in order to avoid spoilers for the trilogy, we can only talk about the book in generalities, so we’re not going to discuss specific plot points.)
One of the things we loved the most about The Girl of Fire and Thorns was Elisa. Miserable and completely underestimated by those around her, she turned to food to cope with her loneliness. Readers felt her shame in the first book, but also her courage as she found the strength to change, to be a true queen. Carson continues this in books two and three; it’s really amazing to think about how different Elisa is at the end of The Bitter Kingdom. What’s great, though, is that it’s an absolutely believable transformation that the reader witnesses every step of the way.
A key aspect of this trilogy was not only Elisa finding herself, but Elisa learning how to be a leader for her people. She learns some very hard lessons over the course of the trilogy; it’s interesting to see how she faces the hard decisions. In The Bitter Kingdom, she begins to understand the awesome (and awful) power she has over the lives and deaths of those around her. She faces these challenges well, and it’s interesting to see that she doesn’t shy away from some of the harder choices she has to make. You can’t save everyone, not if you want to be an effective ruler. In terms of politics, the book ends with a little too much of an idealistic (and tidy) wrap-up, but it’s still well done.
The overall story of the trilogy gets stranger and stranger, but because it’s so well written, it’s easy to just go with it. Carson brings everything together really well at the end of The Bitter Kingdom. Answers are given, and most of them are satisfactory. But these answers bring up even more questions, and Carson leaves those open-ended and unanswered. Will she revisit Elisa in future books? There’s certainly enough to write at least one more novel, returning to this marvelous world. And we certainly hope that she does: It’s a trilogy that’s absolutely worth reading for many reasons, but most of all, for the amazing character that is Elisa.
What's your favorite trilogy?