The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3)

First Lines: We run.  My heels crunch sandy shale as my legs pound a steady rhythm.  With every fourth step, I suck in a lungful of dry air.

As many of you know, I was very taken with this series this year.  Luckily, I was so late to the party that all the books in the series had already come out.  That meant I could just pluck them all off the shelf when I was ready for them.  And the bitterly cold temps we were experiencing this week made this a good pick.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Elisa is the 17-year-old sorcerer-queen that everyone underestimated.  No one ever thought she’d be a good queen, but she was.  No one thought she’d survive as much as she has, but she did.  But now, Elisa has to infiltrate enemy territory in order to get back the person who means the most to her: Hector.  Back home, her enemies have started a civil war that threatens everything she’s fought to create.  Elisa is facing the toughest challenge of her life now.  She will have to discover secrets about herself and her world if she has any chance of saving herself and her kingdom.

Surprisingly, this story didn’t bowl me over the same way the previous two did.  It was a sad day when I realized that.

First of all, I want to say that this story still kept me guessing, just as the previous ones did.  Just when I thought I knew how the story was going to go, that plot line would wrap up quickly and Elisa would be thrown into a new dangerous path.  So that definitely kept things interesting.

And I still love the characters.  Everyone from Elisa and Hector to Mara and the very intriguing Storm.  Each one has their own quirks and usually says very interesting and wise things.  By the end of this series, I felt like I knew Elisa well enough that she could be my sister.

Here’s why I think I didn’t like this one as much as I loved the others: there was so little room to grow.  In the first book, Elisa completely transforms her body and mind.  She starts off the story as a pudgy princess with no self-confidence.  By the end, she’s a wise queen able to rule a whole kingdom.  That’s a huge transformation.  And she had a similar transformation in the second book.  But by then, just about every facet of her life has been transformed and there was nowhere for her to go in this book.  Now, I’m a complete nerd for character growth.  I just didn’t feel any of that to the same level in this book.  The most character growth came out of some of the minor characters, but not Elisa.

I still think this series is fantastic and I definitely recommend it.  I just felt like this was the weakest part of the whole series.

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