July 17, 2014

Latest Read: The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of Tearling (#1) by Erika Johansen 
Publication date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Category: Adult - Fantasy
Source: Received at BEA
Summary: On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive enemies who will use every weapon to prevent her from wearing the crown. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust. But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—if she can survive. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The Good
It's been a very long time since I've started a new fantasy series, especially one that isn't young adult, and The Queen of Tearling met my very high expectations. Kelsea Raleigh Glynn has grown up hidden from the entire world, with only her surrogate parents for company. But on her nineteenth birthday, it's time to come out of hiding and claim who she is - a princess and the rightful heir to the throne. She knows nothing of her mother except that she was beautiful and more than a little vain. In comparison, Kelsea is homely (I hate using this word to describe her but I don't want to use plain either!), loves books, has an inquisitive mind and stronger than she looks. When the guard who once belonged to her mother arrive to take her to the kingdom, it sets Kelsea on a perilous and eye-opening path. She learns truths about who she is, who her mother was and the true history of her kingdom.

I loved how the author just dived right into the story. It felt fitting because Kelsea herself was diving into the unknown and as she learned about the world she had been hidden away from, we learned right along with her. It was good, steadily paced and focused on Kelsea who was most definitely the heart of the book. All her life she's been secluded, unable to form friendships or even learn about her mother. Everything about her upbringing was controlled (for a good reason) but now she's seeing it all. The poverty, the fighting, the cruelty that's been inflicted. At the same time, she's seeing something in herself she didn't know existed. I mean for someone who never saw the outside of a forest - she really went for it! She embraced her right to be Queen and fought for it from page one. She fought for the respect of the guards and as soon as she saw how people were being treated, she took an immediate stand. There is something very empowering about her character!

Along her journey, she makes.. allies. It's hard to call them friends exactly but they protect her, they're honest and they're helping her fight. There's Mace, the captain of the guards, who is more fond of her than he's willing to let on. He's a stoic soldier to the end but he's not fooling me! (At least that's what I like to believe). There's also the mysterious Fetch who believes in Kelsea's ability to be a good Queen although he needed some convincing (although, everybody needed to be convinced of this). Plus more people she slowly lets into her court as she tries to right past wrongs. It was this extremely well-done story filled with magic, strong characters and a war that is far from over.

(Super minor) reservations
There two minor things that stood out to me. One, lack of a person that Kelsea could form an emotional connection to. I get that she's the Queen and unsure of who she can trust but I feel like she needed someone. A friend. I think if her people had been friends instead of just allies, I would've given this book 5 whole stars (instead of 4.75). That was pretty much the only thing missing for me. Second, I initially pictured this world to be some made-up fantasy land but then some throwaway comments to contemporary literature like J.K. Rowling confused me. Hopefully in the next book, there's a bit more clarity as to where and when this series is taking place.

Do I recommend?
I do! It's a such a good first novel in a series I definitely plan to continue. If you like fantasy, I recommend this one out.

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

If you had a magical talisman, what would it look like or what stone would it be?
(source)

My birthday month is June and my birthstones are: alexandrite or pearl. Alexandrite is purple, which is all sorts of perfect and I absolutely love pearls SO I can't help but choose between these two for my talisman. I'm not sure how a huge pearl would look as necklace (probably not too great) so I'm going to go with alexandrite. I imagine something kind of celestial, maybe the alexandrite is in the shape of a moon or star. That seems queenly and magical right?

2 comments:

  1. I wanted to hate this book because of the controversy surrounding the author's unmerited advance and instant movie deal, but I just couldn't, and ended up giving it five stars on Goodreads. The only problem I had with the book was the beastly long, information laden, first chapter, but once I got into the book I realized the necessity for it. I almost cried yesterday when my son brought in the mail and Haper Collins had sent me a beautiful hardbound edition. There was no note, so I have no idea why, but no complaints here!

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  2. Oh, The Queen of the Tearling! It was such a surprising read, mostly because I didn't expect to love it as much as I did. I cannot wait to see more of Kelsea, and read all about her adventures -- though I do hope there's a smidge more romance involved! Also, that stone is absolutely lovely :)

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