The Queen Of The Tearling (book 1) by Erika Johansen (book review).

October 1, 2016 | By | Reply More

‘The Queen Of The Tearling’ is the first book in a trilogy by Erika Johansen about Kelsea Glynn, the heir to the throne of the Tearling. Kelsea has been raised by foster parents, Barty and Carlin, in seclusion till her nineteenth birthday, kept safe from her uncle, the Regent, who would kill her to ascend the throne. Once she turns nineteen, her mother Queen Elyssa’s Queen’s Guard come to take her to claim her rightful place as queen of a poor country under the heel of its powerful neighbour ruled by a sorceress queen.


The book is set in what seems to be a medieval time, which we learn is actually far into the future. Humans have left the world as we know it after an undisclosed event to travel in ships across the sea to a new lands. The British and Americans land in the Tearling named after the utopian leader William Tearling. The Tear, after losing much of their technology and skilled workers, become farmers due to the limited resources of their lands. Whilst their neighbouring country called New Europe has mineral ores, which are used to make weapons for their army and doctors they brought with them when they crossed to treat their sick. New Europe’s good fortune doesn’t last long as a sorceress only known as the Red Queen kills the democratic rulers and oppresses the people and New Europe is renamed Mortmesne. She quickly invades the surrounding nations and makes them pay tribute. In Tearling’s case, the tribute is people who are chosen by lottery and sold into slavery in Mortmesne.

Kelsea is well-educated but has no practical knowledge of the world. Any information about her mother and her rule as queen is kept from her, along with the identity of her father. Kelsea must try to ascend the throne amid assassination attempts from the Caden, a guild of assassins hired by the Regent, who is under the thumb of the Red Queen. She also faces opposition from the nobles and God’s Church, Tearlings foremost religious establishment which has been growing in importance under both the Regent and Queen Elyssa after William Tearling had banned institutional religion. Kelsea must try to deal with Arlen Thorne, a black market dealer who heads the census department which deals with the lottery of people sent to Mortmesne.

Her only real allies are her mother’s Queen’s Guard led by Lazarus the Mace, whose respect she must first earn and her few household women among whom is Andalie a seer. Kelsea also gains a questionable ally in the form of the mysterious and dangerous Fetch, a Robin Hood-like character who plagues the Regent and the nobles by stealing from them. Although he does not distribute the money, he is still a hero of the common people.

Kelsea must stop the shipment of people to Mortmesne and prepare for the inevitable invasion of the well-equipped and trained Mort army with the few resources at her disposal. One of which is the Heirs Jewel, a companion to her mother’s Queen’s Jewel which are magical sapphires that show Kelsea visions and warn her of threats. The full extent of their power is unknown and Kelsea has to learn to control them.

Kelsea is a strong, thoughtful, intelligent heroine and very relatable. I found it very refreshing that, for once, the protagonist is described as ‘plain’ and struggles to learn the things required of her. Kelsea doesn’t just suddenly and skilfully gain all the required knowledge of being a ruler and we see her learning as she goes along. There are some inconsistencies, like her ability to deal with people after living a completely sheltered life. She seems to have no problem understanding people or places, even though she has only really had contact with two people her entire life and in a extremely remote area. She can’t possibly have gained that much knowledge and experience from the books she reads as a child. Having said that, I’m very eager to get my hands on the sequel.

Supreethi Selvam

September 2016

(pub: Bantam Press, 2014. 434 page hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-593072-691-2)

check out website: www.booksattransworld.co.uk


Category: Books, Fantasy

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