Monday, September 3, 2012
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
I was a little confused at the beginning, because it had been a while since I read the first book in this series, and the second did not seem to pick things up where we left off. Rather we've jumped to where the war, which was really just beginning in the first book, is now over. And quite a lot has happened. After I figured out what was going on, I quite liked this choice. There was no rehearsing of what's already been done, Elisa is moving forward, and fast, because of the situation around her. Her problem is no longer that she's trying to help win a war, her problem is figuring out how on earth one acts like a queen.
I was frustrated at Elisa a lot in this book, because I know she's so smart, but she wasn't always doing the smart thing. However, it made sense when she didn't. Elisa is such a wonderful, well developed character. I feel like I really know her. She is a complex women, struggling with coming into power, navigating politics and officials, and also being a 17 year-old who's in love with someone she spends all her time with but can't be with. She's flustered, confused, afraid, powerful, and strong all at once. We also get to know Hector well over the course of this book, and again, he is a complex, well developed character.
Elisa has always been very strong and secure in her faith and the existence of God. God responds to her when she prays, which she can feel though her Godstone. I appreciated the fact that Elisa is beginning to realize that the history of her religion she knows might not be the full story. We haven't gotten in to it too much, but it's been brought up now, and I have hopes for an in-depth exploration.
I know some have been bothered by the religious aspect of these books, and the clearly Judeo-Christian religion that it is. But...that's what this book is about. They are about Elisa's faith and her changing relationship with her faith as much as they are about romance and adventure and a girl finding herself. I do not feel that the religion gets in the way of the story. I like reading about Elisa's relationship with her faith, which has been involving since we first started reading her story.
And for those who are curious, Elisa's weight is much less a focus of the book, although it's clear she's still a bigger then what seems to be traditionally beautiful in this culture, which is women who are "slender."
The Crown of Embers comes out September 18, 2012.