Cover The Bitter Kingdom: A storm with lightning over a gate and flying banners

About the Book

Title: The Bitter Kingdom (Girl of Fire and Thorns #3)
Published: 2013

Cover Story: Abstractly Classy
BFF Charm: Platinum
Talky Talk: #NoRegrets
Bonus Factors: Spelunking, Feminism
Relationship Status: Swear Fealty

Careful, Sweetie: spoilers! This is the third book in the Girl of Fire and Thorn series, so if you haven’t read the first or second books, you should probably hop back in the TARDIS and go curl up in the library by the pool with the first book before continuing. 

Cover Story: Abstractly Classy

I love these paperback cover redesigns; they’re very classy compared to the originals (definitely requires a brown bag, all of them).

The Deal:

In the final pages of Crown of Embers, Hector was taken as a hostage by the Inviernos in exchange for Elisa’s cooperation to surrender as a living sacrifice. Joya d’Arena was also dissolving into a civil war as one of her highest advisors began a coup against her. So things are looking, to put it lightly, rough.

Elisa gathers up her closest allies—Mara, her lady-in-waiting who’s handy with a bow and arrow; Belen, the reformed traitor turned her spymaster; and Storm, an exiled Invierno prince who she saved from the zafira and is now loyal to her cause. Together they race to track Hector’s captors and rescue him from what will likely be a certain death. But Elisa has a secondary goal, because she knows knowledge is power and she’s curious: what, exactly, IS going on in the Invierno capital? Why are they so desperate for her to be there? And what’s this rumor she’s hearing that they have another living Godstone bearer?

BFF Charm: Platinum

BFF platinum charm

Only a few days have passed since the end of the last book, so Elisa is still reeling from losing Hector and losing her grip on a country that’s cracking down the center. But all that adversity has honed her determination, and even when the going is tough she refuses to complain. I’m proud of you, girl! Elisa is making decisions like a queen (and, okay, some decisions may be a teensy bit based on being a girl in love, but what’s life without love?). She’s also continuing to build upon her journey from the last book to love herself and have confidence in her choices. I don’t know if I’ve even accomplished that now, much less at seventeen, but loving ourselves is a life-long journey.

Swoonworthy Scale: 10

As she faces down a civil car, Elisa realizes if she marries someone from the afflicted area, it could shore up her position with those people. Hector just so happened to be from the rebelling Southern Isles, and if he was reinstated as his father’s heir, why, there’s two problems solved! So Elisa affiances herself to Hector while he’s off being kidnapped. She worries about breaking the news to him, because while she’s pretty certain he loves her, they haven’t exactly said the words to each other, and he did express some reservations about marrying a queen. I’m still just as obsessed with their dynamic as I was in the last book, especially since it’s circumstances (kidnappings, being on the road sleeping in bedrolls next to your BFFs, lives are in constant danger, etc.) rather than silly miscommunications that keep them apart.

Talky Talk: #NoRegrets

The previous book is probably my favorite (which is normally SO weird to say about a trilogy and the bridge book) but this is a close, close second. It’s a gratifying, comforting read full of adventure and heart. People begin to understand harsh realities and persevere in the face of adversity, form alliances, defeat the bad guys, and fall in love. I loved Hector’s practical streak, and the dry sarcasm of the Elvish-in-nature Inviernos, and the way Elisa learned to like her horse, Horse. While maybe I would’ve wanted to learn all the world’s secrets (where did the non-Inviernos come from? Why was Elisa given a Godstone at her naming day rather than be born with it?), I do understand that this wasn’t the point of the characters’ journeys, and we weren’t taken to the places where these answers would appear. I could go on about how great this book was, but if you’ve made it past the second book and you were still on the fence about this series, then I don’t know what else I can do to persuade you.

Side note, but I completely forgot since my first read-through that a new side character from this book is the protagonist of the companion novel, The Empire of Dreams, that came out this month. This makes me even more excited to read it.

Bonus Factor: Spelunking

A cave with an opening in the top where the sunlight is shining down

I have been in some touristy caves, and they were cool. I personally will not be going hard-core spelunking any time soon, because small spaces give me the extreme wiggins. Yet I have a fond lasting memory of reading The Lord of the Rings books and thinking the Mines of Moria chapters were so freaking tense and exciting. And then the movie came out, and it was as glorious as I had imagined in my brain. So I feel like I’m primed for excitement when characters go underground. There’s going to be delicious tension, creepy atmosphere, possibly some intense fight scenes, and maybe even some puzzle-solving in order to escape the labyrinth of tunnels. I love it.

Bonus Factor: Feminism

Raised fists in different skin tones wearing nail polish

The three non-Invierno countries are all controlled by women leaders. Elisa calls a meeting of the queens to discuss the Invierno problem, and it’s just so nice to see level-headed ladies getting. Things. Done.

Relationship Status: Swear Fealty

I am your loyal subject, Book. You treat me right, and I will follow you for all my days.

FTC Full Disclosure: I purchased my own copy of this book. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. The Bitter Kingdom is available now.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.