The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling is a 464 page novel, published by Harper Paperbacks in 2013. It’s the first in the series of the same name.

The Queen of the Tearling Cover

Much scientific (especially medicinal) knowledge was lost during the Crossing—three centuries previous to the events in this post-apocalyptic tale. I believe the Crossing was from America to Europe, partially due to a legend of an entire ship full of doctors and medical equipment sinking during the Crossing.

In the new feudal world, Queen Kelsea–who has spent 19 years being raised and trained to rule the Tearling–is herded onto the throne in place of the Regent who happens to be her slovenly uncle, desperate to keep his place on the throne.

Kelsea comes into her crown with a host of problems in the kingdom, illiteracy and daily assassination attempts the least of them. She faces dozens of well written moral and political issues, backed by the looming threat of a broken truce with the Red Queen, leader of the Tearling’s neighbor, Mortmesne.

Kelsea reminds me of Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore–another writer who expertly blends political unrest with fantasy. However, both Kelsea and her world have much more depth than Graceling. She starts off her rule with a bang, ending the Mortmesne-enforced slavery resulting from Kelsea’s mother’s truce with Red Queen.

She follows this explosive start with a number of forceful changes, but what I liked about her most of all was how utterly convincing she was as a new head of state who happens to be a gawky badass. Without much human interaction as a child, Kelsea is unused to and at times uncomfortable with interacting with her Queen’s Guard and the people she now rules. An introvert myself, it was wonderful to see the inner workings of a female character struggle through ruling a kingdom and a people she knows next to nothing about.

Erika Johansen perfectly captures this awkward transition and creates a character that truly interacts with the world–making me crave more. After a reading slump, The Queen of the Tearling was a fantastic reminder of why I love fantasy so much. Although there is minimal magic in the novel, Kelsea’s mysteriously magical sapphire pendants show a huge potential for it in the future of the series.

I just loved this book–the intricately detailed characters, the fascinating world with a refreshing turn away from describing the apocalyptic even that brought it about, and the looming threat of an adversary with powerful magical abilities–it is easily one of my favorites from 2015. I’ve already finished the sequel, review forthcoming. If you haven’t read this book, all I have to say is… why not? Get reading!

TITLEThe Queen of the Tearling
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AUTHORErika Johansen
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PAGES: 464
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ALSO WROTE: The Invasion of the Tearling
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SORT OF LIKE: Graceling, Prince of Thorns
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FIRST LINE: The Glynn Queen–Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, Seventh Queen of the Tearling.

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  1. Trackback: 2015 Favorites Roundup Part 1 | Realm of Reviews

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