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The Queen of the Tearling: A Novel (Queen of the Tearling, The) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 8, 2014
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*Starred Review* Although the setting resembles medieval times, this story takes place far in the future. Following a mysterious cataclysmic event referred to as the Crossing, humans now exist without modern technology and have reverted back to feudalism. At the story’s opening, Kelsea, the rightful Queen of the Tearling, turns 19 (the age of ascension) and is escorted by the Queen’s Guard from her forest home to claim her throne. Raised, educated, and protected by an elderly couple since birth, Kelsea possesses much book intelligence but lacks practical political knowledge. Nevertheless, she is everything one desires in a leader—she is strong, decisive, just, and possesses an inner strength that allows her to face any challenge placed in front of her. However, her challenges seem insurmountable and include the need to abolish the slave lottery that plagues her people. In an impressive start to a series, Johansen expertly incorporates magic necklaces, political intrigue, questions of honor, well-drawn characters, and a bit of mystery into a compelling and empowering story. As much is (understandably) left unexplained, it will be interesting to see where future installments take this series. --Kerri Price
“A gripping read. . . . Johansen spins an engaging story with plenty of action . . . and intriguing characters.” (New York Post)
“Johansen’s dark, dizzying time machine is what made this book impossible to put down. You’re in the twenty-fourth century, but also the Middle Ages? The implications made us see our world today--particularly technology and education--in a new light.” (Glamour)
“Quite possibly the highlight of one’s vacation. . . . This spectacular debut is the first novel in a trilogy that is sure to entertain readers everywhere.” (Wall Street Journal, Books-A-Million List of Best Books to Finish Your Summer Vacation)
“Johansen’s strong, efficient prose convincingly conveys the pressures and inevitabilities facing a determined young woman confronting the dangers of a violent era.” (Seattle Times)
“This book worked on me with all the subtle power of an addiction: by the time I realized I was hooked, it was far too late to stop.” (Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of the Delirium trilogy and Panic)
“An impressive start to a series, Johansen expertly incorporates magic necklaces, political intrigue, questions of honor, well-drawn characters, and a bit of mystery into a compelling and empowering story.” (Booklist (starred review))
“The Queen of the Tearling is a gripping read with an enchanting heroine. Erika Johansen has created a wonderful world and I can’t wait to read more.” (Bernard Cornwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Pagan Lord)
“Erika Johansen bursts onto the fantasy scene with a page-turner full of adventure, sorcery, swords, and politics -- not to mention a clever heroine with guts and conviction to spare. The Queen of the Tearling kept me up way past my bedtime, and left me wanting more!” (Helene Wecker, New York Times bestselling author of The Golem and the Jinni)
“Queen Kelsea is the most compelling badass heroine since Katniss Everdeen in this fantasy epic set in a neo-feudal future.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“The Queen of the Tearling is destined to be a fantasy classic. Johansen’s writing is assured, confident and thrilling. I can’t wait for the next book.” (Amy McCulloch, author of The Oathbreaker's Shadow)
“Call it The Hunger Games of Thrones. Erika Johansen’s debut novel is a genre mashup: medieval fantasy meets dystopian future. . . . An addictive and enjoyable adventure.” (USA Today)
“An exciting fantasy tale.” (Buzzfeed)
“Johansen’s intrigues and plots are pitch perfect.” (Romantic Times)
“An epic series sure to enthrall adult and teenage readers alike. [Johansen’s] hybrid world blends dystopia with high fantasy for an unforgettable adventure.” (Shelf Awareness)
“Johansen makes an impressive debut with this ambitious fantasy adventure, which takes place several centuries from now following the collapse of civilization and mass migration to a newly discovered continent. . . . An engaging page-turner.” (Publishers Weekly)
“[The Queen of the Tearling] has engaging characters and moves effortlessly through moment after captivating moment; I could not put it down.” (A.V. Club)
“The Queen of the Tearling tells the mesmerizing and enveloping story of an exiled princess who has to reclaim her throne while fighting back against the neighboring kingdom’s menacing Red Queen.” (Buzzfeed)
“This book absolutely kept me turning the pages at maximum speed, while also soaking up all of the fun character bits. . . . Kelsea has a lot of emotional and psychological complexity along with her extreme competence. . . . A superfast, ridiculously fun read.” (io9.com)
“You could write The Queen of the Tearling off as yet another young-adult female fantasy novel, but that would be doing it an injustice. . . .The world created by Johansen is solidly drawn with interesting characters - all with hidden pasts, traumas and flashing swords.” (McClatchy News Service)
“A bright new entry in the fantasy genre. A heady mixture of adventure, romance, magic and mystery, this debut novel from Erika Johansen is a captivating work.” (Bookreporter.com)
“Forget The Hunger Games (sorry!): The Queen of Tearling is the best YA novel I’ve read in ages.” (Jezebel)
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Top Customer Reviews
It's not a matter of leaving loose ends; rather, the author knows where she's going and she's going to take her own time getting there. And she WILL get there. I like complex world-building stories, and this one feels like a comfortable entry-level offering. The writing doesn't have the lyrical quality of Name of the Wind, or the driving action of The First Law, but I was just as absorbed by this series as I was by those two. Kelsea, as a heroine, actually managed to feel fresh, not very cliché at all. My only complaint would have to be that the simplistic writing style felt better suited to a younger audience, and this series is definitely for older teens and adults. I don't really care about sex (and in fact there isn't much of it), and the violence wasn't notably gruesome, but there was a surprising amount of rape. At least A Song of Ice and Fire feels like an adult story. This series reads like the younger end of YA, which made it that much more jarring. I will say, though, that it does not glory in it.
All in all, though, this is an excellent series, and an author to watch.
Perhaps if this distopian element was removed this would be a really good straight forward quest/adventure/fantasy book. The fact that it is already signed up for a movie directed by one of the Harry Potter directors and starring Emma Watson makes me think this is going to be one of those movies which strip out the simple story line and comes out wildly different to the book. Much of the book's good points lie in the thought process of the Heroine and I think this will be hard to capture in a movie.
If you just put the inconsistencies of the world building out of your mind you can enjoy this as a fairly typical fantasy book. Only recommended for the forgiving reader.
A thrilling, epic journey showing one young woman's courage to do what is right and not what is easy. The world building and character development in this book blew my mind. Kelsea is a strong, yet naive woman thrust into ruling a kingdom she knows little about. All she has is herself and her Queens Guard.
The Tearling is a vast land of varying landscapes. From forests to deserts, it is a magical world held under the threat of invasion from Mortmesne.
A definite must read for lovers of fantasy, Queen of the Tearling is an epic adventure you won't want to miss.
The good: That it starts out with Kelsea as queen. There's no long prologue of her as the serving woman. No two-books-worth of a fight for the kingdom.
There is no "big evil". I mean, sure, the Red Queen is a bad guy but it feels like a political thing than an a supernatural thing. More like fighting Hitler than Satan.
The point of view doesn't jump between dozens of characters. Yes, there are few chapters showing us a few other characters. But I'd say 80% of the book is focused on Kelsea's point of view. I'm tired of sprawling fantasy epics that have a different character POV every chapter.
The bad: Kelsea's companions all fall into place too easily. They're all too perfect. Pick a random woman out of the crowd to be your handmaiden? Yeah, she's got the ability to see the future. Choose a random meek priest to perform the coronation? He'll be the only priest in the world with a similar fetish for historical books. For someone who was raised in a shack with no human contact, Kelsea is remarkably lucky at picking her companions.
The bad guys are ridiculously bad. A bit of grey would have made things more interesting. Not only did the Regent steal her throne. But he also is into slavery. AND he has bad taste in art.
Not only is the handmaiden's ex-husband abusive...but he's ALSO a pedophile.
Kelsea has a number of "visions" that act as convenient deus ex machina to propel the action. She has a vision of villagers shackled into slavery and sets out to free them. Why didn't she have a vision of the people plotting that a few days in advance? Well, we needed a rousing action scene at the end of the book.
Overall, things just go too easily for Kelsea in this book. All her friends are perfect. All of her decisions work out well, no matter how impetuous or thoughtless. Even when she disappears for a week to go save the villagers, her kingdom seems to tick along just fine without her.
I don't want all of my fantasy to be grimdark but I think things could have been a bit more difficult for Kelsea.