Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Review: The Bitter Crown by Justin Lee Anderson


The Bitter Crown (Eidyn #2) by Justin Lee Anderson
Publication Date: December 5th, 2023
Paperback. 560 pages.

About The Bitter Crown:

"A war once held in the shadows now escalates into full-scale revolution in the second novel of Justin Lee Anderson’s epic Eidyn Saga. The fog of war is lifted and the conspiracy at the heart of Eidyn finally exposed. Now that they know the truth, Aranok and his allies must find a way to free a country that doesn’t know it’s held captive. But with divided loyalties and his closest friendship shaken, can their alliance hold against overwhelming odds? The quest to retake the country begins here."

I was blown away by The Lost War when I read it last year, and–like most people–I was completely shocked by the twist at the end which left me dying for the sequel and left The Bitter Crown a lot to live up to. Fortunately, The Bitter Crown was an excellent sequel and continued the story with consistency and intrigue to almost match the first book.

The Bitter Crown picks up not too far from where The Lost War left off and we’re thrust right back into the world with all the characters we know from the first book. I won’t say specifically what the big twist from the first book is because it’s honestly a very substantial spoiler/twist that I would really hate to ruin for anyone, but this sequel generally deals with the fallout of that big twist and what happens next. All of our characters must now decide what to do about the conspiracy they’ve uncovered, and not everyone agrees on just what to do or how to treat certain players involved, whether on their team or not.

I’ve really enjoyed following and getting to know all of the different characters and perspectives in this series, but I will say that there were quite a few times in The Bitter Crown that I felt exceptionally frustrated by some choices that were made and some of the arguments that arose between characters. Some of this made sense, as I’m sure there would be a lot of tension and conflicting opinions on how to handle things, but sometimes it just felt more generally annoying than critical to the plot.

We also see major development occur with each character we follow, largely because of a major event from The Lost War that occurs and means that big changes are, essentially, inevitable. It was interesting to watch everyone come into their own and rediscover who they are, what their motivations are, and where they stand on many different situations. I also appreciated that there was a lot of exploration of moral ambiguity among the characters and that I think really fits well with the rest of the story and general themes explored in this series so far. Loyalties are definitely tested and there are a lot of different types of ties between people explored and tested, and I especially appreciated that so many of the outcomes from these tests were varied and unexpected at different times.

The Bitter Crown felt very much  like a second book in a series and I don’t mean that in a negative way, as it did exactly what it was supposed to. There was an abundance of time spent figuring out how to deal with the immediate fallout from what happened in the first book and it felt incredibly realistic with how everyone opted to move on. There continues to be an immense amount of political intrigue and machinations occurring in every corner of this world, and I’ve liked the many different explorations of power and approaches towards handling things.

Anderson's pacing in The Bitter Crowns leans to the slower side, which allows readers to really immerse themselves in the characters’ internal struggles and intricacies of the world-building. There was a lot of planning going on in this book that I enjoyed getting to spend time on, as it allowed for a lot of introspection into the characters as well as further exploration of the world itself. That being said, there was still plenty of action and plenty of time spent progressing the plot and preparing us for the third book and what I’m sure are many more crazy things to come.

Overall, I’ve given The Bitter Crown four stars! While I didn’t love this one quite as much as The Lost War, this has been a really thrilling fantasy series and I’m absolutely hooked to find out where Anderson will take the story next.

*I received a copy of The Bitter Crown in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org

No comments:

Post a Comment