AND FLAMES DIE,
BUT ONE BURNING EMBER
CAN IGNITE A REVOLUTION.
The thrilling conclusion to the bestselling Ash Princess 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.
With 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.
Ember Queen is the third and final book in the Ash Princess fantasy series by Laura Sebastian. Chronologically, the book starts very soon after the end of Lady Smoke — Theo has descended into the fire mine after negotiations with Cress. In Ember Queen, she emerges alive and more powerful, but she has no memory of what happened down in the mine.
Now that I’ve read all three books in the series, I think it’s appropriate to comment on the series as a whole. Does this series feel unique? Do I feel this series adds something new to the fantasy genre? No, I don’t. There are so many elements in this series that can be found in so many other books — love triangles, the concept of ‘the rightful Queen’, betrayal, captives, rebel armies, a cruel and vicious Queen, the list goes on.
But, in YA fantasy, sometimes it feels almost impossible to find a book that doesn’t possess these common, stereotypical elements. And there’s a reason readers keep coming back to these — they’re enjoyable. And I think a teenage reader, one who loves fantasy, would really like the Ash Princess series. Whilst it may be a bit unoriginal in some parts, the characters are interesting, the plot draws you in, and it’s an easy series to get lost in.
“It is a foolish plan. I know that, and I’d imagine deep down, Erik does as well. But with his mother so recently taken from him and the life he knew completely upheaved, Soren is the only family he has left, the only familiar thing in a strange and frightening world.”
Clocking in at over 460 pages, Ember Queen doesn’t disappoint. The characters and the plot are just as engaging as they were in books one and two, and readers will find themselves emotionally invested in the conclusion to the series. Whilst I felt book two was a bit lacklustre because the plot felt like a filler, book three makes up for that with a fast-paced, compelling plot that had me fully engrossed.
Structurally, the book moves along a few different paths. The majority of the book is political, following Theo’s war plans and her strategic campaign to overthrow Cress. Another part of the book follows Theo and Cress’ connection — they are able to meet and communicate in their dreams. Cress thinks Theo is dead, so she believes she’s being haunted. For a time, Theo is able to use these dreams to manipulate Cress and steer everything in a desired direction.
“Blaise said the same thing to me — that I always choose Astrea over him. I don’t think he meant it as a condemnation, but he’s right: what I have left over isn’t enough for him. Maybe it will never be enough for any person.”
There were definitely a few moments in the book where things felt a little too easy for Theo and her crew. Soren’s return to the group was one of them. But the pacing has been consistent in all three books, and readers will feel satisfied with how things unfold in the Ember Queen.
Laura Sebastian captures Theo’s internal conflict incredibly well in Ember Queen. Personally, I feel that this concluding novel is the strongest in terms of capturing Theo’s character development, and illustrating her inner turmoil over the decisions she has to make and the lives she’s putting at stake. After all, this is war. And with war comes death.
Theo is conflicted every step of the way. She feels great responsibility for her rebel army, but she also wants to avoid as much bloodshed as possible. She’s scared, although she hides it well. She’s tormented by Cress, and she’s tormented by all that she’s endured since we first met her in Ash Princess. In Ember Queen, we see Theo as an incredibly vulnerable character, and through that we witness her become the Queen she’s destined to be.
“Sometimes, the time I spent in the mine filters in like sunlight through a curtained window, diluted and soft-edged and incomplete. But other times, the curtain shifts and light pours in, sharp and jarring. I remember darkness; I remember being cold. I remember my mother.”
A satisfying end to the trilogy. I recommend the Ash Princess series to fans of fantasy fiction, or young adult fiction. The trilogy would be a great gift for a young, seasoned reader.
Thank you to the publisher for mailing me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Ember Queen: Ash Princess #3
Pan Macmillan Publishers