Interview with Rae Carson & Review of Crown of Embers

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson
Hardcover, 410 pages
Expected publication: Sept. 18th, 2012 by Greenwillow Books
Source: Publisher
In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

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. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns was one of my all time favorites last year and I was more then excited to get the opportunity to review The Crown of Embers.  Sometimes going into a second book can leave you a bit disappointed though, especially when the first was so epic.  Fortunately The Crown of Embers did not disappoint!

This book was hard for me to put down, and for a fantasy that really means something.  Sometimes they are such heavy reading because of the crazy court intrigue and the in depth world, etc.  But The Crown of Embers had everything I want in a fantasy without becoming a heavy read.

First of all, I didn’t think Elisa could grow anymore as a character, but somehow she did!  She starts out with a strong voice in this one and definitely didn’t seem like a 17 year old to me.  But she still manages to find growth in the book.  She’s a very strong character (incredibly strong!) but still has some weaknesses.  She’s unsure of things, but she really starts on a new journey in this book.

There is plenty of court intrigue in the book, but it wasn’t ever annoying to me.  Oh yes, there are infuriating characters, but that was good, they needed to be there to get us good and riled up.  There’s also lots of life and death hanging in the balance.  Rae Carson isn’t afraid to let bad things happen in her books, but I think that’s important in fantasy, that’s what gets us so emotionally involved in it.  And it was this intense feeling that never went away through the entire book.

The romance in this book was exactly perfect.  It wasn’t instant love in any way.  It was a slow burn romance that has you just aching for them to speak their mind and find their way to each other.  As Lori at Pure Imagination said in her review, it leaves you with a goofy grin on your face.

And the end of the book will have you crying for more.  Sometimes cliffhangers make me angry and frustrated.  Other times I’m DYING for more but yet I know that it’s the perfect end even though I may not survive until the next book, and this was that.  It was the perfect ending even if I may pull all my hair out before the next one comes out.

Epically AMAZING.  These books are MUST READS.

Disclosure: I received this book for review purposes.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not paid or influenced in any way.

And I got the pleasure to interview the fabulous Rae Carson as part of her tour!

In The Girl of Fire and Thorns Elisa struggles with her weight. I think so many teens (and adults) can really connect with that side of her and it’s not often we come across an ‘issue’ like that that isn’t the real focus of the book. How did it come about to have this particular ‘issue’ part of the book?

I was in a bad relationship. The guy I was dating was always on my case about losing weight. And one day in frustration I was all, “I’m going to write a book about a girl who is fat and fabulous.” So I did.

And I’m so glad you did!  It’s nice to have a character feel like a real person with regular issues like the rest of us.

Do any of your characters reflect yourself, or anyone you know?

Elisa’s older sister, Alodia, is a lot like me: bossy, driven, unfairly exasperated by her younger sister.

Fantasy seems to be something that is getting much more popular in YA, but just a few years ago it was hard to find a real genuine epic fantasy in the YA section. When you started writing it did you have concerns about it finding an audience?

I didn’t think about it, to be honest. I just knew I wanted more of what I loved on the shelves, and what I love happens to be high fantasy. I’m very lucky that things worked out and my books found an audience.

Were there any scenes in either book that were particularly difficult for you to write?

Oh, yes. I kill off an important character in book 1, and that was reeeeally hard to write from an emotional standpoint. In book 2, the opening was difficult to write from a craft standpoint because I wanted it to be fast-paced and exciting, but not so fast that it would fail to re-ground the reader in Elisa’s world. Lots of revisions later, I feel good about it.

Yes, that part was so hard to read too!  But I do think it’s important to keep things real and I think having so much strong emotion just elevates a book even more.  And I have to say that you got it spot on for the pace in book 2.  I was afraid it would be a bit boring in the beginning but it wasn’t at all!

What are 5 fantasy books that you highly recommend?

My favorite recent fantasy release is Leigh Bardugo’s SHADOW AND BONE. I loved the Russian influence of the world. I also felt it had a much healthier perspective on romantic relationships than a lot of current young adult novels. For younger teens, I recommend David Eddings’s BELGARIAD saga, which is supposedly for adults but works much better when interpreted as young adult literature. THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS are classics for a reason. I’ve probably read them 5 times each. I recommend skipping the Tom Bombadil parts, though, because he’s just creepy. One of my favorite fantasy novels ever is Robin McKinley’s DEERSKIN. Reading it encouraged me to be brave and take some risks with THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, because DEERSKIN is definitely risky and maybe not for every reader, but I found it to be mesmerizing and powerful.

I LOVED Shadow and Bone!  Such a great story!  I really need to read Deerskin!
If you could travel to any place in any time when and where would you go? 

I would love to travel a hundred years into the future, because I want to know: Will humans set foot on Mars? Will we cure cancer? Will women ever be considered truly equal with men? Will my San Francisco 49ers ever make it back to the Superbowl?! And most importantly, I’d want to know which stocks did well in the 2020’s so I could come back to this time, invest appropriately, and make a gazillion dollars.

I always say that I would rather see the past but I gotta say that I’m really curious about our future too!

If you could meet any author, dead or alive, who would you choose to meet?

I’d want to meet Jane Austen. I’m very curious to know if she was as witty and wonderful in real life as her characters.

Is there one charity or cause that you support and would like to share with us?

I support various pet rescue organizations and no-kill shelters. And I encourage all of you to get your next animal companion from a shelter!

 I’m with you there!  That’s a very good organization to support!

 And what can we expect to see from you in the future?

I just signed with Greenwillow for a new epic fantasy trilogy about a girl with a magical secret who heads west in a covered wagon during the California Gold Rush of 1849. I hope I’m lucky enough to write a book a year for the rest of my life!

That is absolutely FANTASTIC news!  And I too hope that you are able to write a book a year for the rest of your life! 

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions!

Thanks for having me, Candace!

All the other tour stops:

9/10 One Page Reviews— This or That
9/11 Pure Imagination— This or That
9/12 Candace’s Book Blog— Interview
9/13 Two Chicks on Books— Character Interview, Hector
9/14 Books with Bite— Interview
9/17 Laura’s Review Bookshelf— Interview
9/18 Short and Sweet Reviews— Guest Post
9/19 The Non Reluctant Reader— Interview
9/20 Book Chic— Interview
9/21 Good Books and Good Wine— Interview
9/24 Short and Sweet Reviews— BONUS TRACK! Author Interview

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  1. I wish my TBR pile wasn’t quite so big right now so I could get to this series. I have heard such great things about it!

    I loved the interview, great questions and answers!

  2. Yay, so glad you loved this one too Candace! I continue to be impressed with Elisa the more I read about her, and I absolutely love how much she grows in each book. And the romance? *dies* One of my favorites this year for sure, that slow burn with all the tension and and the anticipation just sucks me in every time. Such a fun interview as well, I love that Rae put the issue of weight in there, and I also like that after the initial third of the first book, Elisa came to appreciate how she looked and didn’t continue to fixate on her flaws but rather on her strengths. SO GOOD!

  3. Thanks for posting this wonderful interview! I feel happy that I have read/loved all of the five fantasy books that Rae Carson mentions. I am very excited to read The Crown of Embers and see more awesome personal growth in Elisa. And I think I’m most excited about the romance. I didn’t buy either of the romantic possibilities in book one. But I wondered about this possibility in book one, so I’m so so glad it’s coming to fruition in book two!

  4. A CLIFFHANGER? *dies* I might wait a liiiiitle more than before picking this up, but it sounds AMAZING! I loved The Girl of Fire and Thorns and Elisa really is such a phenomenal character. I’ve heard a loot about the romance in this one though, so I’m very excited about that. I loved Hector in the first novel and I’d love to see him grow into something more – he’s exactly what Elisa needs. Fantastic review and interview, Candace! I can’t wait to finally pick this one up now! 😀

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