Review: The Bitter Kingdom + Novellas

by Rae Carson

 The bitter kingdom pamsfourhalf

“You always speak truly, yes?”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
“And you believe my sister has the kind of power she claims?”
“No.” he says, “She is being modest.”
-Page 321

Title: The Bitter Kingdom
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher: Gollancz
Book: 3 of the Fire and Thorns trilogy
Genre: fantasy
Found: series
Rating:  4.5 Voodoos

The epic and deeply satisfying conclusion to Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy.

In the final volume of Carson’s trilogy, the 17-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion – a champion to those who have hated her most. Riveting, surprising, and achingly romantic, Rae Carson has spun a bold and powerful conclusion to her extraordinary trilogy.


My review of book two can be found HERE, which also links back to book one.

And so I’ve finished this series and I’m left with just one burning question. The heck did I leave this unread on my shelves for so fluffin’ long?!

I’m still surprised that I gave the second book in a trilogy the highest rating however. This one just missed out on the same rating because there was a lot of journeying around and I did skip some passages and even pages. I do however intend to re-read this entire series again soon. It will miss out on occupying space on my favourites shelf only because I want it on the one below which is some kind of mix between desert/epic/sandy adventures. Why do I have this shelf? I have no notion, but I made it and I like it so it’s mine.

Elisa did a lot less growing in this book than the others, but she still grew. She’s grown so much from the fat, almost self-loathing girl to the almost slim, decisive and driven ruler that she is now and it was fantastic to watch. I learnt to love the phrase ‘I have a plan.’, especially when companied with a wicked grin. I’m also glad everything worked out. I loved Elisa and Hector together. They were both amazing people and they’ll do so much good. I’d have loved a little more family time at the end though. Just because I think Rosario deserved it. He finally has a family worthy of him and he’s been through so much at 7.

In this book we gain sporadic chapters in Hectors Point Of View, which is amazing. We don’t get much, but what we do get shows us just how clever he is and how matched he is with Elisa. What I also liked was that we learn that he’s learnt from Elisa. He’s 5 years older than her and a long time guard for royalty, you’d expect all the learning to be one way, but it isn’t. I like this because it makes them seem more real, like they’re a true partnership that’s going to last. I’d have loved to see her meeting his family, but the end was compressed, no long drawn out happy times here.

I know that when I re-read this series I’ll notice more. The sad bits I glossed over because I was in a hurry, the amazing characters like Red Sparkle Stone and Mara that I don’t really talk about because I was to driven to find out the fate of Elisa and Hector. And Storm. He grew on me rather drastically, I’d love a book about him! But I’m sorry, but those things will have to wait to be featured in a re-read throwback, because I missed them this time around. Isn’t that the beauty of re-reading though?!

I’m sad my time in this world is over – barring novellas, though they belong at the start of this adventure and these beautiful people were different people then – and though I’ll miss them all terribly, I’d still love to learn more about this world. Those that arrived -where from?! Their machines – what did they do?! The future, does the marriage Elisa hopes for happen? Do they finally combine into a single people?! And why was that Elisa’s act of service?! I understand we’d only know in hindsight – like the Shepard, but I really want to know! I love seeing all the itty bitty linky bits.

Bonus Reviews! The Fire and Thorns Novellas:

The Shadow Cats 0.5

the shadow cats


Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. And it was not Alodia.

Alodia is the crown princess of the realm. The sister who knows how to rule, and the one who is constantly reminded that she has not been marked for a grand destiny. But Alodia has plans, and she will be the greatest queen her people have ever known. So she travels–with her hopeless, naïve, chosen sister–to a distant part of their land, to begin to secure her supporters. This region needs its princesses, for it is plagued with a curse. The crops don’t grow, the spring doesn’t arrive, and a fierce jaguar stalks the shadows, leaving only empty homes splashed with blood behind. If Alodia can save them, no one will be able to deny her strength and her sovereignty.
But what she discovers could change the fate of her kingdom, if not her world. And it will most certainly change her opinion of her younger sister.
“The Shadow Cats” is a prequel to the riveting Fire and Thorns trilogy: Book One, The Girl of Fire and Thorns; Book Two, The Crown of Embers; and Book Three, The Bitter Kingdom.

This was facinating. We got to understand a little more about Elisa’s sister, and we find out exactly why she sends Elisa off to marry King Alejandro of Joya de Vega. I assumed it was to protect her, right up until the very end. The happenings in this story could even support that. But it turns out Alodia saw so much more in her sister in that one situation that no one else ever realised. And she was right.

The Shattered Mountain 0.6

the shattered mountain


On the outskirts of Joya d’Arena, small villages fight for survival against the onslaught of sorcerers and raiders. Mara’s village has been safe–so far–but Mara decides to escape anyway. Escape from her harsh, abusive father. Escape with her first love. But when their plans fall on the same day that the animagi burn the village to the ground, Mara faces losses that could destroy her. She’s a survivor, though. She is going to make it through the mountains, and she is going to protect the refugees following her. Because there’s a rumored safe haven . . . and some say they have found the Chosen One. Told from Mara’s point-of-view, The Shattered Mountain is an alternate perspective of the beginning of the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

This is the story of Mara and it made me cry. Not her horrid past, not her heartbreak – they made me sad for her, but what made me cry is when she tried to give up and those she saved decided it was their turn to save her. And how she felt about this. At the end of her story she sees Elisa and her first impression is interesting and foreshadows their friendship well.

The King’s Guard 0.7

the kings guard


At fifteen years old, Hector is the youngest squire in the most elite military force in the country. And his first day is disastrous. Everyone assumes the only reason he was recruited is his close personal association with King Alejandro, not because he’s really earned it.

But Alejandro needs Hector for a secret mission, one that gives him the chance to prove to everyone—including himself—that he is worthy to be a Royal Guard. Hector must break into the ancient Fortress of Wind to retrieve something so important that the kingdom’s future depends on it. What Hector finds in the fortress will stretch his bond of friendship with his king near to breaking. And it will prepare him to become the fearsome warrior and lord commander Elisa will never let go.

A riveting prequel to Rae Carson’s epic and acclaimed Fire and Thorns series.

Ah, young Hector. The one I was most looking forward to. I’m kind of sad that we don’t get to see him meeting and falling in love with Elisa, I’d LOVE to read that, but this was pretty good too. We know he’s savy and smart, he’s the commander of the Royal Guard when we meet him in Fire and Thorns, but in this we get to see just how much like Elisa he really is. They think so similarly it’s brilliant. Difficult situations and high risk sinarios should be a breeze with them around.
We also get to see a little into Alejandro’s world too. I thought his wife died in child birth, but perhaps that was Elisa’s mother. I’ll need to check when she did die, because it would be odd if he was unmarried for so long otherwise. As to the secret it is that Hector knows, it wasn’t horrifically surprising and I know it will go with him to the grave.
It was nice to see the start of Fernando and Lucio too. If it wasn’t for Enrico, would these two boys have become the men they are today? Who can say.
I’m sad that this story ended here, I’d have liked to see some of the training and how Hector got from the youngest to the commander in under 5 years.

pam id pics paein


6 comments on “Review: The Bitter Kingdom + Novellas

  1. Jordon @ Simply Adrift

    How good is this series as a whole?! I loved this series so much, I will now read anything Rae Carson writes.

    I too liked the second book more because of the story and the journey. But I liked how the story came to the end, although I too wanted to know what happened next etc.

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

    1. Paein

      Yes, that’s true. She was so clever! I’m willing to give whatever she writes a chance too. Haven’t got around to her new series yet though. Have you started it?

        1. Paein

          It’s floating around my amazon basket right now. I cant decide if I should buy it now, or wait for the series to be completed! so many choices

          1. Jordon @ Simply Adrift

            I feel like it was as exciting or action-y as The Girl with Fire and Thorns. It’s more about a literal journey across the desert but of course there’s a personal journey. It’s different but it’s entertaining. I don’t think I could binge read it though. But I am pretty excited for the second book to come out! I want to know where she takes the story!

            Jordon @ Simply Adrift

          2. Paein

            She seems to like journeys across deserts. I’ll wait and see what the reaction is to book 2 then. Thank you!

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