Author: Erika Johansen
Series: #1 in the Queen of the Tearling series
Source: Local Public Library
First Published: July 2014
First Line: "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.
Book Description 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.
My Review: This book was a blend of a lot of things. It's full of adventure, action, magic, fantasy, dystopian with a strong historical feel to it and it was a good read. At the centre of the book is Kelsea, the young girl who was raised in seclusion until it was her time to take back the throne. She's a smart, strong teen who was fairly easy to get behind as the main character. I loved that her main focus upon taking her throne back was putting her kingdom to rights and standing up for the 'little guy' with strength and compassion. She's not a fluffy, pink princess looking for her Prince Charming but a force to be reckoned with.
I'll admit that I never quite got a handle on the interesting, and quite confusing, world that the story is set in. It's a post-technology/dystopian setting but with a very Medieval feel to it. Some unnamed catastrophe has occurred and humans have made The Crossing to a new land. I'm still not sure if it's some new land mass, part of England or what happened to everyone who didn't make the Crossing. Are they alive? Dead? Who knows. Not me, apparently.
Once these people Crossed they left behind all modern conveniences (cars, computers, medicines ...) and now live a medieval way of life. Why? Again, who knows. Honestly, it's hard to wrap your head around and some of the ideas don't quite make sense if you think on them too long. The inconsistencies are there but I chose not to dwell on them and hope that in future books they will be made more clear to the reader. Plus, once I chose not to worry about figuring it all out I got sucked into the story line and even enjoyed some of the references to the 'old world' - specifically specifically the Harry Potter reference of "seven volumes of Rowling". :)
The secondary characters were varied and interesting for the most part but it was Mace/Lazarus who stole the show for me. I look forward to learning more about this mysterious man. The Fetch, Master of Thieves? Not as much. First, I wasn't fond of his moniker (side note: I couldn't get Mean Girls 'fetch' references out of my mind when I initially read his name - 'Stop try to make fetch happen!') and he didn't have enough page time for me to get a good feel for him. Honestly The Fetch seemed a little too good to be true and his appearances didn't endear him to me ... at least not yet. I predict he'll have a much bigger role in the future books.
There is a really dark and sinister character in the Red Queen and she makes things interesting. Super creepy, but interesting. Evil, sadistic and power hungry she's an admirable foe to Kelsea. With some of her actions I couldn't help but be reminded of Melisandre from Game of Thrones but I still enjoyed learning more about her truly evil ways.
This was a good start to a new series. I found it to keep my interest and have a slow but gripping story line. It left me with enough unfinished business (budding relationships, what is the blue jewel? ...) to be eager to pick up the second book in the series, Invasion of the Tearling (which I've been advised by a 17 year old co-worker at the library that it's even better than this book!). I look forward to reading more about the daunting task ahead of Kelsea as she tries to right the wrongs her mother's time as Queen put upon her people.
My Rating: 4/5 stars