Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 4 stars Series: Yes - final book in trilogy
Princess Theodosia was a prisoner in her own country for a decade. Renamed the Ash Princess, she endured relentless abuse and ridicule from the Kaiser and his court. But though she wore a crown of ashes, there is fire in Theo’s blood. As the rightful heir to the Astrean crown, it runs in her veins. And if she learned nothing else from her mother, she learned that a Queen never cowers.
Now free, with a misfit army of rebels to back her, Theo must liberate her enslaved people and face a terrifying new enemy: the new Kaiserin. Imbued with a magic no one understands, the Kaiserin is determined to burn down anyone and everything in her way.
The Kaiserin’s strange power is growing stronger, and with Prinz Søren as her hostage, there is more at stake than ever. Theo must learn to embrace her own power if she has any hope of standing against the girl she once called her heart’s sister.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
EMBER QUEEN is the much anticipated finale to the ASH PRINCESS trilogy. It’s really clear from the get go that this is going to be an all-out battle for Astrea – free the slaves, defeat Cress, try not to get too many killed along the way.
This is not a series that is afraid of hurting periphery characters, but none of the core cast have had any severe injuries so far (that felt like they might die). I really liked that the stakes were upped in this, with both the cost on the civilians shown (this is not a fight they are going to win without heavy losses) and a higher level of danger for the core cast. It’s hard to say much without spoilers, but there were times when I was genuinely worried for the core cast – which is rare, considering I go into books expecting most key characters are going to survive.
Also, Theo’s choice in the courtyard with Cress was sooo good. In a way, the actions of others afterwards felt like it undercut her choice (she got her cake and could eat it), but maybe the alternative was too dark?
It’s a pacy story and managed to have enough new takes on the mines and freeing them that having multiple attacks on mines across this and LADY SMOKE didn’t feel repetitive. It has a lot of ground to cover, but manages to keep the story going, and still explore the relationships between Theo, Søren, Blaise (that was a good arc), as well as the other core cast.
The way that Theo’s magic was handled was a lot of fun – the ins and out of why it was different. There is a new magic-plot-device introduced that did feel a bit underused though. It took a while to be introduced, then it seemed to be forgotten at the wayside for a long time until it was needed for the finale.
It’s sad to say goodbye to a series – it’s not the first one this year, nor will it be the last – but it’s the inevitable part of reading. Still, I’m looking forwards to the books she has scheduled for next year.
Read my reviews of other books by Laura Sebastian:
Ash Princess (this series):
Castles in Their Bones: