Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Release date: July 2014
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Promotional copy from publisher at WFC '13.

Description: Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother - Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid - was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea's uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea's 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother's guard - each pledged to defend the queen to the death - arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding...

And so begins her journey back to her kingdom's heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother's legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea's story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance - it's about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive...

My thoughts:
I got sucked in to this book and read it pretty quickly. Kelsea has ben raised in isolation by her foster parents, allowed to read many things but kept ignorant about a lot of the recent history and politics of the kingdom. So she's intelligent, but has large gaps in her knowledge. As the story progresses, and Kelsea learns more about the decisions her mother and uncle have made to try to keep the kingdom 'safe', readers start to see that her aunt & uncle most likely kept her ignorant so that she could make decisions based on her, not on the political histories that sometimes push the edges of 'right' and 'wrong'. There are some pretty horrible things happening in the kingdom, and Kelsea is determined to fix as much as she can.

The time setting of the novel is also interesting. Technology has risen and fallen again. The book is a bit vague on some details - at some point there was 'The Crossing' from somewhere to the world they now live in - on this journey, a lot of technology and medicine was lost. So although they are aware of some things that used to be around, there are gaps in their knowledge and the facilities to produce such technology and medicine again. For instance, Kelsea knows red hair like hers is a recessive gene. But, they are living in almost European medieval conditions because of the materials they have access to.

It's very much a story of 'the young hero comes out of hiding and sets the kingdom to rights', which might be a repetitive story for some, but there are enough unique aspects that I still found it interesting. There's an evil queen in a neighbouring land who has been happily taking over countries for a while, and suddenly finds Kelsea a threat she was not expecting. There are hints of magic, and in some areas, like for the queen, this seems normal, but to Kelsea and those in her country it's a very odd occurrence which they can't seem to explain.

I really enjoyed the story, and found that Kelsea, without knowing the political recent history of the country, was a very interesting heroine for the book. I'll definitely be buying the next one when it comes out. In some places, things seemed a little too easy for her, which I wasn't too sure about, but overall it was a very good book. I give 'The Queen of the Tearling' 8 out of 10.


Fall Into Books on August 19, 2014 at 1:01 AM said...

Great review! This book looks interesting. I think I'll add it to my TBR.

Amber @ Fall Into Books

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