The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen

❝ I don't understand your fascination with the damned things [books]. They don't feed or protect you. They don't keep you alive. But I see that they are important to you.❞

Ah this book.. I've read so many mixed reviews on this one, that put me off for reading it for quite some time. Eventually, I decided to give it a try and decide for myself.

 

The story

The heart of this story is a coming of age tale. Kelsea, a nineteen year old girl is the queen to be. Many want her dead. We follow along her journey to her throne and her attempts to gain the respect of her people.

 

The writing

I am not gonna lie: the story progresses slowly. If you are an impatient reader and you are looking for a page turner, then this book is not for you. I didn't mind the slow pace. Or the fact that the narration was packed with details. I liked the details because they weren't just added to fill pages but they rather added more depth to the plot and the characters' background. The book itself has been compared to 'Game of Thrones' and having not read the books I cannot say if the comparison is true. But I do watch the tv show; and to that extent I can see why some people drew the comparison (although game of thrones is still more brutal).  In 'The Queen of the Tearling' the moral compass for some characters is next to no existent: this book has rape, drugs, child abuse, human trafficking you name it. All of these describe a kingdom, a society in ruins. This is the kingdom that Kelsea has to rule over.

 

The characters | Some spoilers ahead!!

Kelsea was lovable. She wasn't full of herself, she was humble and insecure. But she was also strong and proud. And she adored books. What more can I say?

❝ Bookshelves are not meant to be empty.❞

No they are not.

She is a true ruler, one that wants respect from her subjects, not fear, or contempt. She wants a just system for everyone: both the nobles and the poor. She understands that education is vital for a progressing society, but she is not deceiving herself: she knows that this is not something that can happen overnight.

Other notable characters in the story:

-Lazarus the Mace is the Queen's right hand and her protector. He is one of the strongest characters in the book; both a skilled fighter and advisor, he is super valuable to Kelsea.

-Pen is the appointed Queen's bodyguard by the Mace, as well as part of the Queen's Guard.

-Javel is one of Gate's guard, who lost his wife some years back. For some parts of the narration we follow him, learning his background too. (I didn't like this character one bit.)

-Thorne is you could say the king of the underworld. A nasty character that looks only after himself (every story has one).

-The Red Queen is the major rival for Kelsea. We do not know her real name; no one does. We suspect she is a witch, but nothing is confirmed as Kelsea herself performs some weird magic tricks too and we are almost positive she is human (almost because we don't know who her father is). The Red Queen rules the neighboring kingdom to the Tearling and hers is far more advanced and rich. For some reason she fears Kelsea and the power she might hold.

-the sapphires: I understand that they are not characters but they are of key importance. At first we think it's because they are in the future Queen's possession, a way to identify her. We will soon learn, however, that they are no ordinary jewels. The full extend of their magic will probably be explained later (also: why sapphires and not diamonds? Plus why they are two?).

-The Fetch: obviously I kept one of the most intriguing characters for the end. We know that he has eyes and ears everywhere and he is also anonymous (yep this book uses lots of no actual names). He is a mysterious fellow that appears when he is needed and he is always watching Kelsea. His exact age is not given, but Kelsea was attracted to him. I hope she not related to him, that would be too much in the GOT territory.

 

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this first installment. Although there are tons of questions about the plot and the world the events take place, it didn't ruin the book as a whole. It is a series after all.

As a side note, I really liked the third person narration and the fact that there was no romance (well yet).

❝ My responsibility, she thought,and the idea brought no fear now, only an extraordinary sense of gratitude.
My kingdom.❞

read a sample below: