Monday, December 5, 2016

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

From the publisher: A #1 Indie Next Pick and LibraryReads Selection

Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.

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This book is incredibly impressive. It's not only the first in a very well-regarded fantasy trilogy, but also the debut novel by this author. All in all, it was a beautifully written, complex, adventurous book and I can't wait to continue on with the series. Though the world-building in the beginning of this novel did get get a bit dense and underwhelming, the world that is created here is fascinating and terrifying, and certainly begging for sequels. 

I was and am a bit confused yet about exactly when this book is set.  In most accounts it seems to be a fictional, sometimes magical world ruled by monarchies and brutal immortal leaders and in most ways completely separate from how I view the "real-world" today. However, there were numerous moments indicating that this is in fact a future version of our current society. These were things like the city of "New London" and how it came to be, as well as some other references to current modern life (like referring to books by Rowling!). These implications and sources of confusion both intrigued and perplexed me. 

After about 100 pages of this book, the pace really begins to pick up as new characters are introduced or become more important to the narrative. Kelsea's harrowing journey to her new city is only the beginning of the politically-charged, violent and dramatic course of the novel. 

Queen Kelsea is truly a kickass heroine and I can't wait to see how she develops even further as a character in the following books. She's strong, decisive, intelligent and totally unprepared, which makes for an incredibly complicated persona. I also really enjoyed the various supporting characters, as well as some of the chapters that quite sporadically take a widely different viewpoint--a church official, Gate Guard, and disgraced ruler, for example.

All in all, highly recommended, and I'm excited to start the sequel right away. 

Book links for HarperCollins, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads

Thank you to HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours for sponsoring this tour (and the tours for the rest of the trilogy!). Check out the rest of the tour stops here

1 comment:

  1. I've been meaning to start this series for a while, and now that the series is complete it is the perfect time!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.