Finished Books: Queen of the Tearling

Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen


  • Published: 2014
  • Pages: 343

Summary from Goodreads:

“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.”

  • Rape & pedophilia
  • Library!  Books!
  • Magic jewels
  • Dishonest surrounding individuals
  • Could die any time

These were the notes I wrote to remind myself of some of the important plot aspects.  They are all informative snippets about what this story holds.  But there is much more to this book as it unfolds.

Erika Johansen created a future world that has lost most forms of technology, has returned to medieval ways, and has magic.  We don’t find out the depths of the magic in this book, but I’m sure the author will delve into that in the later segments of this trilogy.  Lush descriptions of the environment and events bring the story to life.

The reader meets Kelsea as she is spending her last moments in the area where she grew up before the Queen’s Guards take her away.  At nineteen, she is now queen and might be murdered before she gets to the Keep.  She has been educated and raised by a couple (not her parents) that volunteered to keep her safe as long as they could in an isolated home.  As a young, inexperienced queen, she must make decisions on how to rule the entire country based on the knowledge bestowed to her from two individuals.  And those two individuals refused to tell her everything.  So does her current Queen’s Guard.

Kelsea grows as a queen, rationalizing decisions and questioning her judgment at times.  She must figure out who is trustworthy and fast.  Her life depends on it.  From the moment she was born, she created enemies, and now that she is queen, they want her dead.  From a kidnapping on the way to the Keep and a murder attempt at her coronation, Kelsea must constantly keep her wits about her.  

The story is compelling, although there are holes in the world-building that will hopefully be filled in later.  I’m interested to see where this story goes next.  I’ve heard good things, so I’ll likely give the next book chance and go from there.

Rating: 3 stars


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