The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

51g3wlbgfol-_sx319_bo1204203200_I picked this book up before Christmas, as a present for my sister’s boyfriend. I picked it because I know he likes fantasy, and it had pretty good reviews, and if he didn’t like it, well, I could read it then.

Sadly, he read it, and didn’t like it, and then I read it, and also didn’t like it. So I guess that’s a failure of a Christmas present. Disappointingly.

The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.

For starters, let me point out that I had no REAL problem with the storyline of the book. High fantasy, untested monarch, unbringing away from her kingdom, returning to claim her throne, unsure who to trust, a sorceress in the next kingdom, and a bunch of cold, heartless guards whose loyalty may or may not be to her – I have no problem with any of those things, I like all of them.

If that had been the book, I would’ve been pretty happy with it, and perfectly content to read the next two in the trilogy. I like fantasy books. I like high fantasy books. I like medieval-type settings with massive peasant classes and the magical few who are miles above the others, and care nothing for the serfs who populate their land. I am totally on board with all of those things.

What I am not on board with, in this book, is the world-building. Okay, firstly, why did Kelsea’s ancestors sail away from a world of technology? Why would anyone do that? It’s never explained. Maybe in later books. My original thought was that maybe they were escaping a dying or decaying land. Who knows.

Secondly, WHERE did they sail to? It says at one point in the book that it was the Americans and the British who completed the Crossing (note the Camel Caps!) But where were they crossing from and to? And how would anyone from America and the UK even sail somewhere together? There is literally nowhere in the world that it would make sense for Brits and Yanks to sail to together. Not a single place. (I’m open to correction on this. But that’s my feeling!)

Other issues I had with this book were where the magic came from. If it is, in fact, set in our world, a few hundred years in the future, then how did magic come about? What’s the deal with Kelsea’s magical sapphire? Why haven’t we yet discovered magic in our world? I’m not buying it. There needs to be some more explanation of it.

It’s also conveniently pointed out that most doctors died during The Crossing. That’s sad and tragic, but wouldn’t those who survived have set up some kind of training scheme for new doctors? How exactly did the society expect to keep medicine going once the original doctors had retired anyways? I’m not buying this either.

Throughout the whole book, it just seemed to me that the things which had been lost and the things which had been kept in The Crossing were arbitrary, and served only to further plot points which didn’t make much sense to me – antibiotics and modern medicine were lost, but the Harry Potter books survived!

The whole world of the Tearling was just not believable for me, and it jarred throughout the whole book, ruining my enjoyment of what could’ve been a really epic high fantasy trilogy.

I’m going to have to think really carefully about whether or not I bother with the further Tearling books at all.

Two Stars

1 Comment

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One response to “The Queen of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

  1. Pingback: Ariadnis – Josh Martin | Much Ado About Books

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