Thursday, April 30, 2015

Time to Talkback: Review on The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Authors had their time to talk now it's Time to Talkback. This gives me the chance to review the book or books I have been reading. Now I'm all for a honest review and at times I can be a bit harsh with some of the judgements I voice, as far as book go. But it has nothing to do with the author(s) for without them what would my imagination be (goodness help us all). It is just my own opinion, constructive criticism (I say) and I just want to state it as so many of us sometimes do. Good or Bad, I am always thankful for the books I read and the author(s) who wrote them. So, welcome to Talkback and here to a honest review.

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Age Group: Adult
Genre Type: Fantasy
Publication date: July 8th 2014
Publisher: Harper
Format: Paperback
Pages:  447 pages
Source: Books-a-Million
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As an intriguing and epic debut novel, The Queen of the Tearling, Erika Johansen creates a lavish, terrifying and somehow beautiful world, combining tones of historical fantasy and dystopia altogether. Erika Johansen illuminates our minds and imagination with tales of royalty, magic and war. The Queen of the Tearling is a riveting tale of suspense, adventure, mystery, and political aguish.

Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is the heir to the throne of the Tearling, a peaceful kingdom on some kind of secondary world that refugees from Earth have settled somehow, also known as “the crossing”. (They have The Hobbit and the Bible, but whether they came in spaceships, or some other kind of vessel is unclear.) Kelsea has spent her entire childhood hidden away in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, raised by two foster parents, Carlin and Barty, because her mother is dead and no one seems to know where or who her father is.

But now that Kelsea has turned 19, she's ready to take the throne. And as the novel begins, a group of men arrive to take her to the “Keep” in New London, the capital, so she can be crowned. But her evil uncle, the Regent, has hired lots of assassins to kill her before she can ever sit on the throne, so they have to fight their way to the city. Plus there's a sexy thief guy, the Fetch, who's basically Dread Pirate Roberts and Robin Hood mixed into one. But Kelsea soon realizes that her foster parents didn't tell her how bad things had gotten in her kingdom, because of an oath they swore to her mother. Turns out the Tearling lost a war with the neighboring kingdom, Mortmesne, who is ruled by an evil sorceress Queen possessing dark magic. As a result of this defeat, the Tearlings have to send a ton of slaves to the Mort every year in order to keep the contract of peace and not aggravate a new war. Kelsea is determined to put a stop to these human tributes, but she has to confront deep-rooted interests in her own kingdom, and the threat of a new war with the Mort. Oh, and the Church is in cahoots with the slavers too.
Johansen avoids describing the character’s personalities outright, showing them through their actions. Johansen also makes little remarks of the character’s appearance, leaving us to imagination most of what each character would be like. Though with the flaws in the author’s detailing of characters it does not intrude on our relationship with each of them, finding a connection is easy to do. (Cheer for the good, Boo for the bad)

Johansen takes this book in a very dark direction at times, with slavery and political corruption and abuse. (This is not a YA novel. There is vulgar language and sexual content that may not be appropriated for all) But Johansen could have giving a more "realistic" take on this material, convening the struggles that Kelsea would have to deal with to change the situation of her country, that's existed for decades, and facing real setbacks. We do hear about a lot of terrible atrocities, mostly second hand, and there's the ever-present threat of war, with pervasive rape and slaughter.
But The Queen of the Tearing is basically a fairytale, with some disturbing content in the mix. A lot of the fun of this book is in seeing Kelsea triumph over great odds, and slowly winning everybody's love and respect. At first, the men who come to fetch her from that cottage in the middle of nowhere see her as a silly young girl who can't do anything, so a lot of the book is about her proving to them and everybody else that she's really dedicated and wise beyond her years. As the book goes along, Kelsea gets magic powers to go along with her general tendency to say or do the right thing in almost every situation. Sometimes you just want to read about someone who rights wrongs and makes the world a better place. Johansen has created a wonderful story of overcoming the odds and defeating enemies no matter how great.

The sequel to The Queen of the Tearling comes out this upcoming June, and I for one can’t wait.

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