Talk about your middle book syndrome. This one was disappointing after having read the first book in the Fire and Thorns series. The events and characters from book one are clear and memorable, and even though I just finished this about three days ago, already the events and characters (with a couple of notable exceptions) are slipping through the cracks in my memory. Especially compared with #1, this one just felt kind of messy. The good news is that Carson's characters are still great, her world-building is still fresh, and Elisa's evolution as a character continues to impress me (as does Carson's ability to create lovable romantic partners for her).
Spoilers for book one, ahoy!
Elisa is now queen of Joya d'Arena, but her competence as a leader begins to fade as she's besieged on all sides by disloyal advisors, assassins, conspiracies, and court politics. And it's as frustrating to read about as it sounds. Meanwhile, Elisa is still trying to unlock the secrets of her Godstone, even as the Inviernos begin to reignite their war against her. To make all of this even worse, she's beginning to fall for her bodyguard Hector, even though she must choose a husband for political reasons. It's all very muddled and stressful. But like with book one, it takes a turn when they leave the city and head out into the wilds, this time on a quest for a powerful object connected to Elisa's Godstone.
But for as muddled as it was at times, the ending saved it, and I'm now looking forward to book three in the fall. Hector was yummy, Mara was a good addition as Elisa's "side-kick," and I was happy that by the end, Elisa had finally gotten her confidence back.
Can I give this a 3.77777777777? I don't know why that specific number, but it feels right.