Monday, August 18, 2014

REVIEW: THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen




Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, #1
Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Genre: Fantasy
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5

SUMMARY

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.




REVIEW

Peeps, I was absolutely blown away by this book, and as much as I would love to give you a detailed account why you should read this book, I don’t think I’d be able to adequately describe the magnificence of this fantasy novel to you without pages and pages of fangirling. You simply have to read it yourself. That’s all there is to it. The two main selling points to it, in my opinion, is that one, it’s rumored that The Queen of the Tearling is going to be adapted for the big screen and will be starring Emma Watson as the Glynn Queen (although, if you ask me, I think it would work better as a TV series – I mean, imagine Game of Thrones as a movie…), and two, there isn’t even a hint of romance to be found in this book. You can read more about the anticipated movie version of this book, here.

Here’s the long and spoiler-free short of it. Kelsea’s mother used to be the Queen of the Tearling. She was self-obsessed, vain, and didn’t care much about her kingdom and people. The only clever decision she ever made before she was murdered was to send her baby (Kelsea) far away to be raised by two people she trusted the most. Kelsea grew up learning very little about her mother, and not knowing who her father is. On her nineteenth birthday her mother’s Queens Guard fetched her from the cottage in which she was raised for nineteen years - the only place she had known her entire life - to take her back to the Tearling to rule it. At this time Kelsea’s uncle was standing in as regent, and because he is a stupid greedy bastard he wanted the kingdom for himself and tried to have Kelsea killed before she could be crowned as queen. Kelsea’s mother, Queen Elyssa, who wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed either, signed a treaty almost twenty years ago with the Tearling’s biggest enemy, the Mort Queen (aka the Red Queen), to leave the Tearling in peace. This treaty requires that every year thousands of Tearling folk and their children be sent to neighboring Mortmesne to work as slaves, and perform other unsavory acts, in the Mort kingdom. This all is the basic synopsis of the story, but you’ll find that it is merely a drop in the bucket as you peel away every layer of this brilliant story.

Rich in world-building, detailed history, and intriguing characters, The Queen of the Tearling is a rare gem. Kelsea is not so much an unusual character, but she is perceptive, brave, and intelligent, and I admired her greatly. Surrounded by enemies at every turn and with constant threats to her life, she keeps her head in every situation and many times reminded me of Daenarys in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. She’s blatantly honest about her faults and shortcomings, but is far from a Mary-Sue.

Many characters are introduced along the way and I appreciated how the author elaborated on each of them without it becoming an avalanche of info dump on the reader. I even felt sympathy for the characters who betrayed Kelsea. They were all so well-written. Often I took a moment to just sit back and let the writing sink in, and I frequently thought to myself what a skilled writer Johansen is. Sensitive readers should be warned that this book contains a relative amount of mature content, as well as profanity. It wasn’t overdone and fit in perfectly with the storyline, so it didn’t bother me at all.

As I was reading this book, I was thinking of all the things I was going to say in my review to convince others to take a chance on this excellent novel. The thing is, I can’t. There is just so much I want to say that it would be impossible for me to sum it up in one page. I took a chance on this book which I initially hadn’t wanted to read because I didn’t feel like reading another fantasy with a romance backbone. (I was very wrong about the romance backbone, so by the way – there’s no romance!). It took many positive reviews from bloggers I trust before I was convinced to read The Queen of the Tearling. Now I can’t wait to read the next book! This is not a quick read, but every minute spent reading it, is worth it. Johansen is a phenomenal writer and I’m now a fan who will be following her progress diligently.






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