The Queen of the Tearling Review

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

I have been gone for a while on here but if we're friends on Goodreads then you know I've been keeping up with my reading! I have been reviewing on there, maybe not as descriptively, but still it counts. But I had to come on here and write about this lovely book I just finished- The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen.

I'm sure many have probably been hearing about this book and the hype around it, but I definitely think its lives up to it, especially since I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. I checked this book out of my library around the end of July and it's just been sitting on my table. Occasionally I would glance at it, but still shied away from picking it up. The hype, the lengthy pages and the beautiful cover seemed intimidating and daunting to me. But as soon as I picked it up (yesterday afternoon), it was a done deal. I can't even seem to recollect flying by the pages as I did, but that just means that it was that good!

The book jumps from narrator to narrator, introducing several characters along the way but the main one is Kelsea Raleigh, who is the future Queen of the Tearling (as the title implies). She's been kept out of reach, her location a secret, from everyone around her until the age of 19 when she's able to be crowned and ascend her throne. This is where the story picks up in the beginning, Kelsea seeing the Queen's Guard, her guards, coming to escort her away to The Keep, which is just the name for the castle and area surrounding it in Tearling. Kelsea hasn't had any interactions, beside her two guardians, an elderly couple who balance off between a "good cop" and a "bad cop." Yet, her guardians have been raising her throughout the years with the correct tools to govern Tearling one day and be able to rise her people from the opposing kingdom nearby- Mortmense. Clearly, reading history books and learning to hunt are important qualities, but many things have been hidden from Kelsea as well. It's not until Kelsea leaves her sheltered life in the woods and enters the Keep- her kingdom- that she sees firsthand what has been kept from her, and how significant of an impact she can have as the new queen. Following Kelsea we learn how much Tearling has changed from the beginning of time and how the ominous Red Queen that resides past the mountain range, is a looming and powerful threat. Kelsea is very young and inexperienced at governing, but she proves to be agile and quick on her feet when it comes to the kingdom she represents.

There's many things that the book left unanswered, but I thought that was great as not everything was given away in huge increments with this first installment. You get enough details and back story to piece things together, but still want for more as the rest of the storyline continues to be mapped out. I wanted more in specific to the Crossing and the world-building of the Tearling, and surrounding kingdoms, but I got a feeling that it wasn't time to just let everything unfold yet. And I'm ok with that, because hopefully it will all be worth the wait.

There were modern-day references like J.K. Rowling and Shakespeare (alright, well that one isn't that present-day) that tied in with this age-old world that was borderline Medieval. And I'm not sure if it's because I'm already immersed in the Game of Thrones world but there were a couple things in this book that reminded me of the GOT world. For example, I totally correlated Kelsea with Khalessi from GOT; they both have this tough, and independent personality, forfeiting all ties with their family if need be to start afresh. And the saying that Kelsea kept saying about better to die with a safe conscious, was something that Daenerys Targaryen would stand beside as well. Besides, Kelsea's strong emotions with her people, and specifically the main topic of her anger and dissapointment with her kingdom, is something that Khalessi also passionately fights against.

Also, I'm not sure if I'm the only one but I was expecting the cliche-romance that's involved with these types of fantasy books- a solider or guard that is so dashingly handsome, and clever that it's sort of love at first sight, but there's not really any strong romantical ties with Kelsea in the book. Sure, there's one mysterious character that I'm still left wondering about, but I don't see that forming itself into "something" anytime soon. And again, I'm ok with that, because it's refreshing to see a strong, female character taking charge and not relying on her suitor to rescue or advise her along the way. You always have kings and princes that mange to do fine on their own, with their female love interest just adding to their charmed but hard life of ruling. Over it.

Overall, I am definitely buying this book because it would just make a nice addition to my bookshelf. Plus, the cover. Do I need to mention it again? This is a really great book, that instantly makes you fall for the world and the characters in it. It's clear that Johansen writes with a purpose and manages to add persona to everyone encountered, no matter how small of a role they seem to play; and while doing that effortlessly seems to be a breeze as you read, if you take a step back you have to realize the difficulty of it all. Let me know if you've read this and/or if you're just as excited, but still a bit skeptical about Emma Watson being attached to the film version of this? (yep, already it's underway for becoming a movie). If you have read the book, can you see why I'm still a bit skeptical?

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