Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds.
I loved the first book, Girl of Fire and Thorns. I loved watching Elisa grow from a coddled, sheltered weakling into a warrior. So awesome.
The Crown of Embers is about Elisa learning yet something else: how to be an effective ruler. I've seen some criticism about this story, that Elisa goes back to being too much like her old self in book 1, but I disagree with that. Leading a band of guerrilla fighters is nothing like leading a country, plus all the backstabbing politics that come with it. Elisa is in new territory again, and she has to learn how to rule. She makes lots of mistakes in the process, but she learns from them and grows as a character.
I think Elisa's flaws are my favorite part of these books. She makes real mistakes, repeatedly, and there is no magic cure for them. There is no sudden epiphany that gives her the answers to all her troubles. Instead, she has to muddle through just like a real person would. As a result, she is a bit unlikable in Crown of Embers because she makes some terrible choices. But I was okay with this, especially when we see her growth--she is given the crown in the beginning, but she earns it in the end. That made it all worth it.
I am really looking forward to the next book, and what kind of trouble Elisa will get herself into. :)