The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Published: July 8th 2014
An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.
Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.
Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.
Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”
Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.
Okay, so this sounds like an incredibly awesome medieval fantasy novel. Right?
Here’s the world map, because it’s really well done:
So there’s the Tearling (where Kelsea will rule). You see some Fairwitch Mountains to the north, Cadare to the south, God’s Ocean to the west, and Mortmesne to the east. Makes sense, it’s a nice fantasy world. Can’t wait to begin!
So in essence, this book is about the princess becoming queen and learning to rule her new medieval nation. The places are made up, this world map is obviously not a real place.
But then slowly but surely throughout the book you suddenly start to hear of REAL PLACES and MODERN THINGS that are now “extinct”.. Like Britain, America, New London (wait wasn’t this a medieval setting? Nope).
AND THAT’S NOT EVEN THE BEST PART!
Queen Kelsea LOVES books. Her foster mom, Carlin, had a mini library and would let Kelsea read a book when she had done something really well. Awesome! Who are Kelsea’s favorite authors? Nobody big, just the oldies like ROWLING and TOLKIEN.
Wait, what??!?! This is a dystopia???
Johansen, you lied!
This isn’t a medieval fantasy at ALL! And that honest to god REALLY bugs me. Because I can’t just go into a novel thinking it’s one genre then getting completely slapped with FALSEHOODS!
And since it’s not a fantasy but actually a DYSTOPIA, where the fuck is this place on a map???? Is this in the United States? Is that the west coast? Where’s Canada? WHAT HAPPENED TO CANADA??!!? I grew up in Canada you can’t just leave that shit out.
It becomes really apparent real fast that Johansen wanted to make a medieval fantasy novel and then did a full fledged COP OUT halfway through her world building. It almost seemed like she was like “Hmmm this is becoming too hard to map out. Let me use some real world places and things and just mix it in with my fantasy world. Nobody will care, it’s fantasy (right??)! *cue evil laughter*”.
So that was my biggest qualm with this book because honestly that clusterfuck consisting of genre-confusion and lack of (?) world building really frustrated me. This is all I will say for all of you who have yet to read the book.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW THE UNICORN!!!!
I have put another unicorn after the spoilers so you can comment (if you decide to).
Overall this book was okay. I kept reading it because I liked the
medieval undertones overall concept. One thing that also kind of bugged me was that I had a really hard time figuring out what the climax was. Like there was talks of war throughout the book from pretty much the first page yet it never happened… We got all this talk of Mortmesne being unforgiving if no slaves were delivered and then NOTHING HAPPENED! The Red Queen got a visit from a black blob that eats little boys and was told to do nothing. LITERALLY. The Fetch put Thomas’ head on a stake for the Queen. The only “villain” to escape was Thorne.
So… in sum.. this book was basically showing us what the Queen dealt with while trying to get control of her nation. It was so.. disappointing? There wasn’t even a romance to get us through it, just tiny one-sided glimpses of feelings.
MEH. I don’t know guys, it was really disappointing. I think I will read the next book. Why? Because I think I saw something brewing between a couple characters and I want to see if I’m right. Hehehehehe.
I give it 3 out of 5 incredibly sad stars.