****SPOILERS RIGHT AHEAD!!**** The Bitter Kingdom – the epic conclusion to The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson – finally hits shelves this week and we are embracing it with open arms and a box full of tissues. Before you say goodbye to one of the best YA high fantasy series out there, refresh your memory with this character guide and top moments from books 1 and 2.
ELISA: The Chosen One
Elisa is the Chosen One, marked by a blue jewel in her navel called the Godstone. Once a century, this bearer is chosen to perform an act of service for the world. Elisa has no idea what her act of service will be—but nearly every bearer has died young.
In The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa was secretly married to King Alejandro of Joya d’Arena. But then she was kidnapped by desert rebels who believe she is the only one who can fight off invaders from Invierne, the kingdom across the mountains. She becomes the leader of this rebellion and learns how to use her Godstone against the evil enemy sorcerers. And, eventually, she becomes queen of Joya d’Arena. In The Crown of Embers, she must fight to keep her position against assassins, court conspiracies, and continued attacks from their enemies in Invierne. And she falls in love . . . with the commander of her Royal Guard, Hector. At the end of The Crown of Embers, Hector has been taken prisoner by the Inviernos, and Elisa must lead her friends to rescue him.
Hector is the best book crush in the known universe the Lord-Commander of the Royal Guard. Hector has stood by Elisa’s side and protected her through a siege on the capital city, through assassin’s attacks, through a perilous journey and a sorcery-born hurricane to a hidden island. He loves her. And at the end of The Crown of Embers, the Inviernos have captured him to lure Elisa to the icy mountains.
How did Hector become the youngest commander ever to lead the Royal Guard? You can find out in the original digital-only novella, The King’s Guard.
Mara is Elisa’s handmaid and her best friend. Mara once lived in a small desert village burned to the ground by the Invierno sorcerers, and then she became a key part of the rebellion—and the best cook on Elisa’s journeys. She has been beside Elisa through imprisonment, through escapes in sewer tunnels, and through terrible sea journeys. And she is one of the three other people who will join Elisa in rescuing Hector.
Mara’s own story of surviving the Invierno attack and finding shelter with the rebels is told in the original digital-only novella, The Shattered Mountain.
Belen is one of the kidnappers who stole princess Elisa away from the palace and took her to the desert. He’s a spy, a tracker, and he’s a deadly fighter. In The Girl of Fire and Thorns, he betrayed Elisa’s band of friends to the Inviernos, thinking he was helping to fulfill the prophecy. He paid dearly—being tortured by the Inviernos and losing his trusted position with the rebels. But in The Crown of Embers, Belen joins Elisa yet again, proving himself an invaluable friend. He, too, will join Elisa to rescue Hector.
Storm was once a prince of Invierne. Until he was disgraced by never mastering the sorcery expected of him. Banished to Joya d’Arena as an ambassador, Storm failed even in that, and has been in hiding from Invierne assassins ever since. He can never return home. But his knowledge of sorcery is valuable to Elisa, and he journeys with her to the remote island that’s considered the source of all power. He completes the band of friends who will rescue Hector.
Alodia is Elisa’s older sister, and heir to the throne of their country, Orovalle. Alodia is beautiful and elegant, and gifted at court politics. She and Elisa have always been at odds, perhaps never more so than when Alodia writes to say she intends to court Hector as an advantageous marriage match.
You can see some of Alodia’s side of the story in the original digital-only novella, The Shadow Cats.
Ximena is Elisa’s nurse. She has cared for Elisa for the princess’s entire life, and accompanies her to her new home in Joya d’Arena, after her marriage to Alejandro. But Ximena is more than just a nurse—she kills an enemy attacker with a hairpin when he threatens to reveal Elisa’s identity as the Godstone bearer. Ximena is fiercely loyal, but she also keeps many secrets from Elisa, and finally, Elisa tells Ximena she no longer needs a nurse, and orders Ximena to return to Orovalle.
The king of Joya d’Arena. Alejandro seems perfect: he is handsome, he is kind, and he is smooth. But he is also weak, as Elisa comes to learn. His indecisiveness about how to fight back the Inviernos costs lives in the remote desert villages. Yet, in the end if The Girl of Fire and Thorns, he redeems himself, saving Elisa by sacrificing himself.
Rosario is Alejandro’s six-year-old son, and heir to the throne of Joya d’Arena. He and Elisa have a special bond, and in The Crown of Embers, she is fighting not only for herself, but to secure the country for him.
Oh, Humberto! He was one of the band of kidnappers who stole Elisa. But he quickly proved himself to be a kind, gentle, optimistic, caring . . . oh, what’s that? I’m crying? No, there’s just something in my eye. Funny how that always happens when I think about how poor Humberto was killed in The Girl of Fire and Thorns, not long after sharing an epic kiss with Elisa.
Cosme is the leader of the kidnappers in The Girl of Fire and Thorns. She posed as a maid to Elisa, but when she discover that Elisa is the Godstone bearer, she immediately organized the kidnapping. While she and Elisa had a contentious relationship at the beginning, they grew to respect each other by the end, when Queen Elisa instated Cosme as the queen of the newly independent kingdom of Basajuan.
TOP FIVE MOMENTS FROM The Girl of Fire and Thorns
1. Elisa and Alejandro’s caravan from Orovalle to Joya d’Arena is attacked by bandits, and Elisa both saves her two lady’s maids from a burning carriage and rescues Alejandro from being killed.
“I run toward my husband, my belly and breasts bouncing painfully with each step. As I pass the collapsed carriage, I pull the knife from my bodice. I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I can’t let Alejandro die.”
2. Elisa and her kidnappers are caught in a sandstorm, and Elisa nearly doesn’t make it to the tent.
“In the distance, a wall of darkness races our way. It rages black along the ground, tossing sand high enough to cast the entire sky in shades of brown.”
3. Humberto and Elisa kiss as the Inviernos discover them in the cliffside cave.
“With one swift movement, he cups the back of my neck with a strong hand, pulls my head forward, and presses his lips to mine.”
4. Elisa tries to gouge out the godstone after Conde Trevino kills Humberto.
“It’s like lightning, quick and fiery. But it’s not as bad as grief, so I dig and pry. Blood dribbles down my skin into my pants mingling with Humberto’s.”
5. Hector recognizes Elisa when she’s holding two daggers to Conde Trevino’s throat.
“I’ll take it from here, Your Highness.”
TOP FIVE MOMENTS FROM The Crown of Embers
1. Elisa survives an assassination attempt in the royal crypt.
“The blade plunges again. I scream as it glances off my Godstone, slips into my stomach as if I am made of butter.”
2. Hector kisses Elisa in the sewers as they escape the assassins hunting them. Who knew sewers could be so sexy?
“Our bodies are a hand’s breadth apart, separated only by a cushion of heat. . . . Suddenly, he yanks me against him and bends his head to kiss me.”
3. Elisa gives up the zafira, the source of the magic of her world.
“Channeling all the magic of the world is no different from choosing a regent or making a desperate marriage alliance. It’s just an instrument. A crutch. . . . The zafira is not what I need. What I need is to be a better queen.”
4. Elisa sends to Cosme and Alodia requesting they meet her for a parliament of queens.
“‘I want messages sent to Crown Princess Alodia and Queen Cosme,’ I say to no one in particular. ‘Multiple copies, to be safe. See if they’ll agree to meet me in exactly three months’ time in Basajuan, for the world’s first parliament of queens.’”
5. Elisa and her friends regroup to rescue Hector when the Inviernos kidnap him.
“I draw myself to full height, and my voice rings clear when I say, ‘The fifth place is for Hector.’”
Now that you’re all caught up, start reading THE BITTER KINGDOM!
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