Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publication Date:  July 8th, 2014
Publisher: Harper
Source: Bought it
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
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.
"Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book."
The summary for this book is a huge hunk of a summary, however, I think to an extent it shows what this book is. This book is so complex and intriguing with so many different facets to it. Due to the nature of this book, a long summary is necessary. However, I would give you this shortened summary: In this book you have the Tear people who have been under the brutal rule of the Reagent, and the Queen passed. In comes the rightful heir to the crown, Kelsea. Kelsea is our heroine who has  a long journey ahead of her to take her rightful place as Queen. This journey is riddled with politics, battles, and magic.

I went into this book knowing it was a slow read that had a lot to set up before it got to the quote-on-quote action. In many situations, I'm all for the slow world building, as long as it is done properly. And I have to say, Erika Johansen does an amazing job setting up this world and the characters. Very little happens plot wise in this book but we are introduced to the main villain and know what to an extent what Kelsea has to face to give her kingdom the prosperity and freedom it deserves. 

As for the characters, I have so many different thoughts about each one. They each have so many layers and reasons for their actions and choices and I loved the sheer amount of development that each character recieves. For me the character that has me most intrigued is definitely the Fetch and that is mostly due to just how little we actually know about him. We do not even really know if we can trust him. And there is definitely something special about him in Kelsea's eyes. Other than Kelsea and the Fetch, we have the members of the Queen's guard. I loved how they were slowly introduced to us and how we learned tiny details about them as Kelsea learned more. 

The one issue I had with this book was the timing of it. It is supposedly set in the future after some sort of apocalypse where William Tear left the Americas to travel to where this book takes place. This is clearly in our world since the Harry Potter books are mentioned, but I struggle with grasping the timing and how the almost medieval aspects of the book fit in with this future society. I also question where the rest of humanity is during all of this and why basic things such as medicine, doctors, and even a simple printing press are nonexistent.

As for what is to come, there are so many questions I have after reading this book. There are so many questions about the world, the Red Queen and who she really is (and who she is working with), the sapphires that seem to be magical, and especially who Kelsea's father is. I really hope we learn the answers to at least some of these questions in the Invasion of the Tearling.

Let me know your thoughts on the book if you've read it or if you plan to read it in the comments!

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