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, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.
Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. 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—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.1
Kelsea has lived in exile her entire life. Raised by a governess and a queen’s guard they were the closest thing she had to family. Aside from the fact that she was the future queen of the Tearling, there was very little that Kelsea knew of her mother and the history of the kingdom that she would one day call hers. Her mentors prepared her for the life of a queen, while instilling their own beliefs and morals into the young girl. None of which could have prepared her for the perils that awaited her. From the moment the queen’s guard came to rescue her from her secret exile, Kelsea’s life was in danger. With threats at every side, Kelsea could only dream of reaching the safety of her keep in order to do any good for her kingdom as queen, but even her own keep has its own snakes.
When Kelsea decides to disrupt a disturbing tradition of her kingdom for the good of her people, she has sealed the fate of the entire kingdom and many to their deaths. With help from unlikely places and dangerous faceless men, Kelsea may have the chance to prove herself to be the queen, the true queen of the Tearling, and to one day help her people rise from the depths they so humbly call their home.
Queen of the Tearling has an interesting mix of dystopia, medieval and magic. The scene painted throughout the novel speaks of the medieval time, but the history of the people refer to a time very much like ours that was lost long ago. Many of the resources, knowledge and technology had been lost during the period known as The Crossing. The Pre Crossing world living through sparsely documented notes from historians in books that are very few and far between.
Kelsea portrays the queen of the common people. Someone who is not beautiful, and not ugly, but plain. Someone who has nothing spectacular about them and rather everything working against them. With her upbringing and the help of a mysterious and very powerful magic, Kelsea may just rise to become the most powerful queen the Tearling has ever known and to wipe out the dark magic threatening to spread across it’s boarders.
I have to admit that pin pointing the timeframe of this novel was a bit confusing at first. Having an idea of an era helps to create the picture in your mind. Even in worlds that are wholly their own we can create in our minds a variation of what the author had intended. In the Tearling it was difficult to picture medieval dress, weapon and life set in the future. Kelsea’s character is very plain and although this can be relatable to a wide variety of readers it also boarders on our main character being boring. Many of the outside characters take the spotlight away from her and even create many favourites in the novel with Kelsea falling behind in the ranks. It isn’t until she begins to find herself that her character really starts to take form, taking the reins back and bringing her back into the spotlight and our favour.
There are many great characters and I think the story has the potential to really build into something great. This is not a novel that I would rant and rave about to others, but thankfully it is also not one that I hate. I’m was rather excited to see that the second book was available on audiobook and have already jumped into it. Not quite what I was expecting thus far, but you must wait and see to hear about that. In the meantime, if this book happens to fall into your lap it is worth the turning of a few pages, but I wouldn’t suggest rushing into it. I have a feeling that this is one of those trilogies that I could easily drop and never return to if the books are not as readily available as I would like.
- Book summary courtesy of Harper Collins book page.