Monday, November 14, 2016

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)

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.
Very well done.  This is a series with lots of characters and lots of political intrigue, which can be hard to do well, but the author more than succeeds at keeping it all going.  I love a good fantasy with a focus on characterization but that also delivers on the action and this one has both.  I thoroughly enjoyed this first installment and appreciated how Johansen manages to keep the story moving while also introducing us to a variety of characters and building a foundation for the series.

Entertainment Value
First books in a series can be difficult, but, again, this book really succeeds in introducing characters quickly and keeping the action moving.  She lays the foundation for her world in a way that makes you want more but doesn't feel like a lot of exposition.  I'm so excited to be a part of the three book review tour for this one and can't wait to move on to the second book!

This is a great choice for fans of political intrigue with a dash of fantasy in the style of Game of Thrones but with maybe a bit more social awareness.  It's got some violence but less gore and definitely more of a respect for women.  It might be a difficult choice for younger teens, but it's a good book for older teens and adult fantasy readers.

Thanks to TLC and to Harper Collins for having me on the tour.  Click here for a link to the other stops on the tour!