The Queen of the Tearling
By: Erika Johansen
I let people talk me out of being really excited for this book. I did, and I'm ashamed. I LOVED THIS BOOK. There, now I've gone and said it outright, we can proceed.
No really, this book was so fantastic. I had issues with most of the world-building, but the story was told so well and so simply that I found myself overlooking those things and just falling in love with the story.
I love Kelsea! She reminded me a lot of Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns series, but less naïve at first. That's not to say she wasn't naïve, because she was, but she was also really authoritative from the very beginning, which I loved about her. It made the story interesting from the beginning that she wasn't willing to let herself be pushed aside. Her love for her kingdom also made me really love her. It's so important to me to know what characters are passionate about, and this book did that very well.
I had a few problems with The Fetch, just because he started the relationship by kidnapping her, which is kind of problematic. I like him as a character, however, simply because he's interesting. I want to more about him.
I loved Kelsea's relationship with her guards, too. The relationship felt right, in all the ways that count. It was a nice balance of her being in charge and having to prove that, but also an amiable sort of friendship. I love the Mace and Pen and their very different relationships.
The antagonist perspectives in this were so well-written and fascinating. There were so many kinds of antagonists in this story, which made the world feel so much more genuine. There was the Red Queen, who was freaking creepy as heck and so MESSED UP! But in a really interesting way. I want to know more about what is wrong with her and what that creepy guy she called was. Then there was the regent, who was so apathetic and absolutely disgusting. Just reading his sections, I wanted to vomit all over the book, but I like that it made me feel things, even revulsion. Then there was the gate guard, who got caught up in things too big for him. I just really liked how complex the plot was and how diverse the characters were.
The plot was great too. You can tell that this is an introductory book, but there was still so much that happened and so much being set up. I was a little bored about 50 pages in, but that stretch of boredom didn't last very long and then I was never bored again. I'm excited to see where the story is going in the rest of the series, and I sort of hope that the series goes more than just three books.
I had a lot of issues with the world-building in terms of the history behind the world. There was no solid explanation, just general mentions of things that made no sense. What is the Crossing? What in the world happened to all the technology? Why did some culture stick and some didn't? I came away with absolutely no concrete knowledge of what any of the terms actually meant. I have gigantic doubts about whether or not this world could conceivably make sense, but I love the story and that makes up for it.
Overall, I loved this story and these characters and I cannot wait until the next one.
“Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book.”
“The mark of the true hero is that the most heroic of his deeds is done in secret. We never hear of it. And yet somehow, my friends, we know."