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Elisa, Queen Regnant of Joya d'Arena, has defeated the invading armies of Invierne. However, she finds ruling her new nation difficult. An outsider from another land, her commands are not respected and she faces challenges from both the nobility and the masses, whose taxes must pay for the rebuilding of the country. Elisa must also face down a renewed threat from Invierne. Defeated on the battlefield, they now play a game of misinformation and intrigue, with assassins stalking the rooftops of Elisa's capital. In the midst of this Elisa discovers a vital clue to the origins of the magic of her Godstone, but dare she leave the capital in the hands of her rivals to pursue this quest?

The Crown of Embers is the sequel to Fire and Thorns and is the middle volume of a trilogy. Like its predecessor, the book is an easy, light read but is unfortunately rather less successful. Whilst the first book featured a solid, eventful plot which unfolded with focused conciseness (a relief from the too-many flabby epic fantasies around), this second book is comparatively uneventful and repetitive. There are several assassination attempts, which are foiled. Elisa angsts over how to rule her kingdom more effectively, to no conclusion. She angsts who whom she should marry for the good of the kingdom, to no conclusion. She moons over a potential love interest, even in the middle of a dire assassination attempt. Rinse and repeat.

These problems are confounded by regressive characterisation of the lead: Elisa evolved, in a standard but nevertheless reasonably-well-handled way, from coddled princess to warrior leader in the first book. In this second volume she seems to lose all of the confidence and skills gained in the first book and becomes a lame duck ruler, unable to assert her authority. This would be more convincing had we not seen Elisa already weld a band of desert villagers into a fearsome guerrilla army. No real explanation is given for Elisa's fall from competence in this volume save it was necessary for plot purposes. Some of the secondary cast get some decent character development (such as Tristan, one of Elisa's potential suitors), but overall the characters are less interesting than in the first book.

Where the novel does spring to live is in its depiction of the unusual magic system and the revelation that a lot of what is assumed about the world's backstory may be untrue. But these moments where character (and reader) assumptions are overturned are fleetingly brief. Otherwise for the bulk of the novel we are subjected to pretty standard YA fantasy fare, with the added irritation of an undercooked love story that utterly fails to convince.

The Crown of Embers (**) is a serious letdown after the first novel in the sequence. There are flashes of inspiration and interest, but overall this is a book that is content to rest on its laurels rather than build on the successes of its predecessor. It is available now in the UK and USA.
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on 7 November 2012
Elisa is now Queen, however, no one is taking her seriously but her personal guard Hector. With her enemies stirring, she has to go on a perilous mission to discover the power of her Godstone. I did not think this was possible but this book is even better than the first with everything from romance to action. This book ends on such a cliff-hanger that I want to read the next book sooo bad.
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on 11 September 2013
Elisa is so different from the same usual strong heroine we see in most fantasy novels. She's not beautiful or especially gifted, other than that she was born with a God- stone , of which she has been kept ignorant of her whole life. What really intrigues me is the setting and cultures of the two warring races of peoples. Our heroes are the dark haired dark eyed people of a gentle nature in a surrounding that is much like an Arabian desert . While the enemy are the tall pale skinned, fair hair power hungry (sorcery) ones. In a very refreshing way the author creates the surrounding s so well you feel transported into the hot sun, smelling coconut honey scones and fresh mangoes. I felt the urge to travel and ride a camel! A great adventure, as well as spiritually inspiring
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on 9 April 2015
This is the third time that I've read this book and for some reason I'm only leaving a review now, which is crazy because it's a great book. I realised What a strange premise for a story when I tried to explain this to my girlfriends, but a gripping one nonetheless and well written. I never expect a high standard of writing in some books sold at kindle but, this is really good. Interesting plot and brilliantly intense and tension filed love story which is always fun. Recommend to readers who liked the assassins's curse and the throne of glass.
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on 27 October 2012
LOVED IT, a fast paced second in the series, Elisa is challenged with well meaning helpers, uncertain future, a hidden crush and battling the unknown whilst trying to save her friends and her kingdom, really nicely written - can't wait for the next one as couldn;t put this one down!
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on 19 June 2013
This second book was as good as the first and again I could not put it down. In fact i got so engrossed in Elisa's story that I did not realise that I had reached the end of the book, and now i have to wait for the next book to be published. Any idea when?
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on 3 February 2015
From intrigue and deception, through holy quest and with a good splash of romance and humour thrown in, this is a great sequel to Fire and Thorns and I can't wait to read the next book.
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on 19 September 2014
A truly wonderful read: enticing, loveable characters cloaked in mystery yet utter abandonment for the confines of 'normal' fantasy books.
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on 20 June 2015
Truly the best series I have read in a long time. Brilliant characters, great pace, wonderful imaginative writing. Couldn't put it down.
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on 3 December 2014
An excellent read
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