The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

The basics

Title: The Crown of Embers


Series: Fire and Thorns #2

- The Girl of Fire and Thorns
- The Crown of Embers
- The Bitter Kingdom

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

Elisa is a hero.

She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't.

Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.

To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trial of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with.

If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.

Read a full summary of The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Crown of Embers and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

In short

Elisa is having trouble being a queen people listen to, because there are some annoying people standing in her way. Her country is basically falling apart after the war, and people want Elisa to marry to be a better queen. She gets attacked multiple times, and one almost kills her beloved Hector (even though she doesn’t know she loves him yet, but whatever). While pretending to be engaged to Southern Lord Tristán, she travels South to find the rumored zafira, the source of magic, together with Invierno Storm who keeps saying he is loyal to Elisa but eh. We don’t trust him yet.

There are lots of Hector/Elisa moments and badassness/Elisa moments. They go South to find the zafira and nearly get killed again by Conde Eduardo’s mysterious advisor/undercover Invierno Franco. Hector, Elisa, Storm and Belén (oh hey, the traitor’s back) escape to Hector’s brother’s ship, and nearly get killed on their way to the zafira. Elisa and Storm go off to find the magic and both touch it/get insanely powerful. Oh, and Elisa destroys the source, but who cares. Then that brat Franco shows up and kidnaps Hector because OH MY HEART. This book will ruin you.

What happened in The Crown of Embers?

  • Hector shaves off his mustache. I think that’s really all you need to remember about this book, tbh. But oh well, if you insist:
  • Elisa is trying to be an awesome queen, but people are not really helpful. She’s doing a birthday parade around the city but all of a sudden, an animagus shows up and burns himself for funsies, scaring the hell out of Elisa and Hector and Ximena and everyone. I mean, nobody can to Elisa when HECTOR is there, but still.
  • They’re trying to get back to the palace, only to find out that someone ordered to lock it down. The only people who can do this are Elisa, Hector, General Luz-Manuel and Conde Eduardo, so we immediately suspect the general and the conde. They are very annoying anyway. But they deny everything, and tell Elisa she’s a bad queen and needs to marry to be better. *narrows eyes*
  • Elisa goes off to talk to Alejandro’s casket because that’s what people do, but then she gets attacked by a mysterious person. Everyone is worried, but Elisa has the Godstone, which apparently heals her. She could have died, but magic saved her life, which is pretty awesome. But then the General blames and executes one of her guards, because the general sucks.
  • Elisa keeps having nightmares of the tomb and one night, she takes Hector, Ximena, Mara and her guards there to find out how the attacker could’ve gotten in. It turns out there’s a secret passage that leads to an underground village below her city, where people who have escaped live, led by an Invierno.
  • Ximena tells Elisa about two paths in a prophecy about Elisa, one leading to evil and one leading to life. Elisa wonders if it’s a real place she needs to go. Then a delegation from Queen (!) Cosmé of Basajuan arrives, among which are Father Aléntin and Belén, the traitor. Elisa acts like a bitch to them, but oh well.
  • Then it’s time to check out guys Elisa could possibly marry. The first is a disaster, but the second, Conde Tristán, is really nice. But everything is forgotten when the Invierno from the underground village shows up, pretending but failing to be an animagus. He claims to be Elisa’s loyal subject but whatever.
  • Elisa decides Hector needs to teach her how to fight, and holy foreplay, people! They’re touching and I can’t handle it.
  • During a dinner with the delegation from Cosmé and Tristán (and Ximena and Hector), Elisa finds out that the “gate of life” is rumored to be located near Tristán’s home. (The one from the prophecy, perhaps?) But then Tristán’s herald, Iladro, is poisoned, and Elisa goes off to the kitchens to lecture everyone and orders to flog the entire staff, because she needs to be stern and all. The kid who poisoned her is found dead.
  • Elisa wants to question the Invierno from the underground village, but he refuses to come, so they arrest him. He tells her that “the gate of life” is indeed located in the South of her country, and that that is where the Invierno believe the zafira is located. The zafira is the source of magic.
  • Hector and Elisa practice fighting again. More foreplay, obviously.
  • Mara talks to Elisa about love, because everyone knows that Hector and Elisa are falling in love, and tells her about the two boys she once loved, one of which being actually Belén.
  • Hector and Elisa are walking to meet with more possible suitors when they are attacked. The royal guard surround Elisa and together with Tristán, who turns out to be awesome at fighting, the five random attackers are defeated, but Hector is seriously injured and MY HEART.
  • The doctor, Enzo, comes to save Hector’s life but he says it’s too late and Hector will surely die and what are you looking at, I’m not crying. Full of despair, Elisa tries to heal him – and succeeds. When he wakes, she realizes she loves him. Did you hear me? SHE LOVES HIM.
  • Then it’s time for the Deliverance Ball, or When We Find Out Tristán is Gay. Love this twist. Also, Elisa gets a letter in which her sister Alodia tells her she wants to marry Hector. Hate this twist.
  • Elisa talks to Tristán and comes up with the amazing plan of pretending for them to be betrothed and traveling to Tristán’s home to find the zafira, and installing Tristán as Quorum Lord after that, so he can vote for all her ideas. It’s brilliant, really.
  • They all set off for the South, with a decoy Elisa in the carriage, and Elisa walking behind it. They find out soon that they are being followed, and Belén goes to spy on them and find out they are Conde Eduardo’s men, including his mysterious advisor Franco.
  • Elisa and Hector talk about how Alodia wants to marry him and everyone knows that they love each other, why must you kill me so. Also, they fall asleep holding hands, goodbye.
  • They get to a city where they stay the night, but they find out that their followers are in the city as well, and that Franco (according to the Invierno, Storm, an Invierno assassin) is coming to kill Elisa. Elisa, Hector, Belén, Mara and Storm escape through the sewer to board a ship, while the others distract Franco by traveling to Tristán’s home.
  • Hector has a plan because he’s a genius and they go off to board a ship (do people board ships? I don’t know ship terminology) that actually belongs to his brother, Felix. Elisa convinces Felix to take them South to find the zafira, even though that takes them through the worst storms ever.
  • IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STORM, HECTOR TELLS ELISA HE LOVES HER. OH MY GOD. Also, Mara and Elisa talk about love, and Mara knows that Hector and Elisa are in love, and gives her lady’s shroud to keep her from getting pregnant, because Mara is a genius as well.
  • They get to the island where the zafira is located, and on the beach, HECTOR AND ELISA MAKE OUT. But Hector tells her they can’t be together because she is his queen and he won’t just be a diversion for her because he loves her too much and OH MY GO MY HEART.
  • Elisa and Storm sneak away to find the zafira without the others because Elisa doesn’t want to hurt anyone, and they find it in a beautiful valley.
  • They find the guardian of the zafira, who wants Elisa or Storm to take his place. But Elisa, awesome powerwoman she is, calls the zafira and gets even more powerful because of her living Godstone, and defeats the guardian. Even though the guardian tries to get Storm to take over his place, Elisa gets them both to escape, causing the guardian to die and the valley of the zafira to collapse. Oh well.
  • When they get back, Hector gives Elisa the cold shoulder and I just can’t handle it. They get back to the mainland after that, and meet with Ximena, Tristán and the others.

How did it end?

But then when they are all together, Franco shows up and wants to kidnap Elisa to Invierne. Ximena, betraying brat that she is, tells Franco to take Hector to Invierne instead, because Elisa will willingly follow because she loves Hector. Elisa confirms this, and Hector is in pain because he didn’t realize this. The Invierno take Hector away and EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE OKAY.

But then Elisa finds her strength and dismisses Ximena, because she’s furious with her and Ximena only pretends to know what’s good for her. Then she realizes she should become a better queen, and that finding the zafira didn’t help her with that. She decides to build and army of her own and call a meeting with her sister, Crown Princess Alodia of Orovalle, and Queen Cosmé of Basajuan to meet with the queens. I mean, how freaking badass is this?! (*cue Run The World*) She also decides that to form an alliance with the South of her country and Tristán can’t possibly give her babies (I mean, I’d like to see him try), she needs to marry Hector, who is also a Southern Lord. And then Elisa, Belén, Mara and Storm go off to retrieve Hector from Invierne. I MEAN, HOW BADASS IS THAT?!

anything else

Godstone: a jewel that is implanted by God into the belly button of each bearer during infancy. Elisa got hers in the middle of her christening. It warms and cools itself depending on what the bearer is experiencing, often warming during prayer and cooling off as a warning. A new bearer is chosen every hundred years.

Invierne: rebels who live up in the Sierre Sangre, a mountain range beyond the desert of Joya D’Arena. They are rumored to have mages in their midst who can fight with magic.

Animagus/Animagi: the aforementioned mages who wear amulets that glow with magic. Their main weapon is magic fire, virtually impossible to stop.

Via Reforma: a movement of the Christianity-esque religion prevalent in this world that is a little stricter than most. Elisa’s family and all of Orovalle follow this path, and it is this school of thought that leads them to keep secrets from the bearer for their own safety.

The Quorum: Joya D’Arena’s main council. People to know who sit on it: General Luz-Manuel and Conde Eduardo.

Zafira: one of the two sources of magic.

Other recaps for this series:


  • Can I just say I love your commentary throughout the retelling 🙂 Five stars for the writer of this recaption!

  • Hector shaves off his mustache. I think that’s really all you need to remember about this book, tbh.


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