Saturday, 16 August 2014

REVIEW: The Queen Of The Tearling by Erika Johansen

Author: Erika Johansen
Published by: Bantam Press on 17th July 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Dystopia
Pages: 448
Format: Hardback
Series: The Queen Of The Tearling #1
Source: Bought
Links: GoodReads | Waterstones | Amazon


Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret by foster parents after her mother - Queen Elyssa, as vain as she was stupid - was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea's uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighboring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea's 19th birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother's guard - each pledged to defend the queen to death - arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding.

And so begins her journey back to her kingdom's heart, to claim the throne, earn the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother's legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea's story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance - it's about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly ad fairly while simply trying to stay alive...

I do warn thee, that this may be quite a long review.

Now, a lot of people might classify this as 'Young Adult' and I, myself, had even thought the same prior to reading this book. But now that I have finished it, I can say with confidence that this book is more Adult than YA. There are contents of the book that I don't see being aimed at teenagers. It can be a little graphic at times.This includes violence. (That's a warning by the way.)

The synopsis is pretty hefty with quite an intense amount of detail, you would think it gives away the entire plot but no. I strongly disagree.

I've been waiting for this book for months. Fantasy is my favourite genre, as some would know, and books that include Kings, Queens, Invading Kingdoms, Thrones and Violence, hell, I'll be there to read it. But it was agonizing to come to terms with the fact that I wouldn't be able to read this book until July. (Plus, that cover is gorgeous no? The US edition is just as pretty!)


Nevertheless, these covers do not deceive you. This book was far better than what I had imagined it to be and I took my time in reading it, savoring the writing and melding into the world Johansen had created. Let's begin with what this is actually about.
Now I haven't finished reading Game of Thrones yet, but The Queen Of The Tearling has continuously been compared to George R.R. Martin's hit series and I beg to differ. Whilst GoT contains a very long storyline with dozens of characters, TQOTT has a clear outline of what the story is about. (It's much shorter as well.)

This is about a young girl's rise to power as she prepares herself to become Queen while in constant hiding. Kelsea Glynn/Raleigh is a 19-year old girl who was sent away when she was a baby by her Mother Elyssa, the Queen of the kingdom of Tearling. Everything changes when Elyssa passes away leaving her brother - Kelsea's uncle- Thomas, as Regent and fit to rule over the Tearling. This all ends in chaos as he continues to take advantage of his position to live a life of luxury. But Elyssa had prepared in advance and organized her loyal army of guards - the Queen's Guard- to bring Kelsea back to the Tearling to take her rightful place on the throne. But being a constant target will prove to be a challenge to Kelsea, will she live long enough to take back her position as Queen of the Tearling?

Yes, this book is centered around a female protagonist fighting to take her rightful position as Queen. You don't see a lot of Fantasy books where it's a female, a young adult, fighting and gathering courage to lead the story. I mean, I haven't found many books like it anyway. Kelsea was an incredible character. At first she is living with her foster parents, Barty and Carlin, who were loyal subjects to her mother Elyssa. We watch Kelsea develop, learning as a child and growing up to understand her heritage. At a young age, it's admirable how much she is able to pull through a tough situation with little knowledge. But even a princess has flaws, and Kelsea's show through quite a lot as she usually relies heavily on her guards, especially Mace, or Lazaurus who is seen to be the most loyal and known by all.

What's another amazing detail is that the book seems to be set in the future even if it may not seem it. Location names are still used but altered. So we have New London which is the supposed capital of the kingdom of the Tearling. But even then, we are told that books are a rare find, publisher's do not exist and this amazes me. (It's also bloody frightening. A world without books?!!) And I adored how Kelsea held a love for books, it really made me connect with her.

The world building is pretty good, what with it's medieval like setting (which I absolutely love),  it could be better but this is only Book 1 of a Trilogy so I expect this to improve. Even still, we do get a image of the enemy territory. Mortmesne is ruled over by a powerful woman known as the 'Red Queen.'

There is magical aspects in this story, though not a huge amount. The 'Red Queen' is known to be a witch who had once invaded the kingdom of Tearling but was held off when Kelsea's mother chose to sign a rather horrific peace treaty. Kelsea happens to hold necklaces that could do some extraordinary things. I look forward to seeing more magic in the next book as it seems to hold a lot of importance in the plot.

Whilst GoT has a huge amount of Points Of View from many characters, TQOTT focuses on a small group. I think this makes it a little easier to read and you're not landed with a huge amount of information and detail that you would have to remember. The writing is also a little more simpler than GoT but this works for me, it requires less googling certain words just to understand what the hell is happening or what is being said.

This is a really enjoyable read. Though it feels fast-paced, it's actually very well written out with enough detail and dialogue. I also felt a connection with most of the Queen's Guard's. Let me tell you, once you read this you're going to want your own guard's exactly like Kelsea's! I absolutely adored Kelsea and Lazarus's relationship which started out a little rocky but they grew to support one another. On terms of relationships, there is hinted Romance in this book but if you're expecting a hugs and kisses relationship then you'll be disappointed. Book 1 is merely the beginning and I'm actually glad that we don't see an instant relationship being formed.

The love interest actually has me interested. Why? Because he is nameless. He refuses to reveal his true name to anyone and everyone,including Kelsea. All we know is that he is called The Fetch. (Hah, I love this.)

The Fetch is actually one of my favourite characters, and I'm not saying this because is is the supposed 'love interest' because in my opinion, Kelsea has many potential love interests thrown at her feet. (She has her entire freaking Queen's Guard for god's sake.) But the guy is very entertaining. I could imagine people like him in the world - rebellious, charming with a dark side. He's quite a mystery too and I'm excited to find out more about him. What's great is that there was no insta-love and he bluntly put it out there that he has no interest in Kelsea. (We'll see.) 

There is so much yet to come, secrets we yet to uncover and characters we yet to meet. I loved this book and know this is going to be one of my favourite Trilogy's of all time. There are people out there who didn't like this book and that's okay but that doesn't mean you should have to feel the same way about the book. Ignore all the negative comments about this book, even ignore the positive and read this book and judge it for yourself. Read it because YOU want to read it and trust me, you will enjoy it better that way. I think a huge amount of people haven't given this book a fair trial because the first book wasn't 'as exciting' as some have said or that this was hardly a Fantasy book.

It is Fantasy. Just because we don't see flying fire-breathing dragons, wizards and wars every couple chapters doesn't mean it isn't Fantasy. I for one am glad things are moving a little slowly because then where is the excitement? Now I'm even more fired up for Book 2 and eagerly await for next year! (I think that's when the next one will be out. I'm not sure.)

Gold Wreath 

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