The Queen of the Tearling
by Erika Johansen
Summary: 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.
Source: I purchased a hardcover
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I really enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling.
It had a slow start and wasn’t quite as action packed or romantic as I’ve come to expect from YA fantasy, but then I realized that I wasn’t reading YA fantasy at all. It was an adult fantasy, but since the author is a woman and the protagonist is 19, I think there’s a lot of confusion on where to place it. There wasn’t a ton of violence or sex, so it’s not inappropriate for YA, it just lacks the familiar formula of a YA fantasy, fortunately.
I absolutely loved how the book was written. Each chapter had quotes from works set in the world, presumably in the future, that talked about the Glynn Queen, the True Queen, and even the Red Queen. We knew in the present that she was traveling to the capital in order to claim her throne and we knew that it would likely upset the Mort Queen in the neighboring country due to the last war and the treaty that prevented it. I had no idea what would happen and I liked not being able to predict anything. Occasionally, the author would shift to different perspective, like that of the Mort/Red Queen and the traitorous Gate Guard.
I realized quickly that I wasn’t reading just another formulaic fantasy with a would be queen who would likely be super naive and change things and then fall for a handsome guy. Kelsea was smart, angry, and not used to being pampered, so when she made changes and rash decisions, they were often things that needed to be done. And while it could be argued that she did indeed fall for a guy, it was not at all romantic or even a major plot point whatsoever, nor did she make decisions based on her love interest. The more Kelsea began to understand her kingdom, the more the reader began to understand the world and I loved how it all unfolded.
As an interesting twist, the book was a fantasy, with horses and armor and long journeys, but yet was set in a future where the modern world somehow collapsed and many technologies were lost during an event called the Crossing, so it’s like civilization starting fresh. I can’t wait to know more.
I highly recommend the book and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books.
Fox and Wit Reading Challenge – A book with foil on the cover
2019 Popsugar Reading Challenge – A Debut novel