The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

 

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, Kelsea has crossed the brutal Red Queen, who derives her power from dark magic and who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what she claims is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing. She finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. Soon Kelsea herself begins to change; she does not recognize either her reflection in the mirror or the extraordinary power she now commands. The fate of the Tearling—and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Queen Kelsea is running out of time.1

The middle books of any trilogy are always dangerous; you really have to time them right. Do you jump at the book as soon as it is released to get your fill, or do you wait?  All us bookies know the pain of finishing a book after eagerly devouring it, only to be reminded that the next book is not due out for over a year.  At the time it seems unbearable and your mind has a neat way of reminding you of your loss in the most subtle of ways, but there comes a special day, without realizing it, that you have been able to move on, until the bomb drops that the release date has been set, the cover has been revealed and now you are on the ticking clock of the pre-order list.

The final book of the trilogy is set, the cover has been revealed, and there is a part of me that wishes I would have waited to read this book, despite the fact that I did not research and know that the series was not completed before I started.  My concern does not come from a place of eagerness but a place that I worry that if enough time passes I may leave the Tearling behind me forever, or worse, to a time when you don’t remember any of it and jump in blindly hoping for flashbacks (because who really has time to re-read a book that isn’t even on their favourites list) that never come.

Kelsea Glynn has done the impossible of surviving long enough to become crowned queen of the Tearling.  She has created many changes within her short reign and has even given some of her people hope of a new future.  That bright future; however, is on the horizon past the dark cloud of war that inches nearer each day.  It was an inevitable outcome even before Kelsea had solidified her resolve and yet the bleakness of her circumstances cannot be avoided.  There is a light in the form of visions, power given by the mysterious sapphires that hang around her neck. Kelsea is given a glimpse into the past to a time even before the Crossing.  Kelsea’s experiences through the eyes of Lily Mayhew become too real to just be visions and Kelsea can’t help but feel there is a connection to this past and something she is missing that could save her and her people.

There is always one thing about the middle story of a trilogy that is so inflated that you spent much more time than necessary on the topic, events, or characters, but without this long winded addition the second story would be too short begging the question of it’s necessity but would ultimately result in a two book story where the final tale is twice the length of the first. Now how often does that happen and where is the business savvy machine sense in that?  Lily’s story, although connected to our main tale in more ways than we could guess, often takes us away from the Tearling when we are finally getting back into the groove of the story.  Yes Lily has problems, and yes it’s all connected, but there was much of the story that I was glad I was audiobooking because I think it would have been much more difficult had I had to pick up the book and try to read it in my spare time.

Kelsea is growing into the queen she is expected to be, but there are differences to her personality and even differences to her appearance.  The cause is unknown, but the mysterious and magical sapphires are the first of everyones guess as they caution Kelsea and even beg her to remove the sapphires.  The magical sapphires offer magical power, but they also offer protection.  Removing the sapphire would be to put her life in danger, far worse than any she has experienced so far.  A darkness and even the queen of Mortmesne herself desires the jewels and would do anything to get their hands on them.  Could these magic stones be Kelsea’s bargaining chip to ending a war? or could releasing their hold lead to her death and the destruction of the Tearling?

Although Kelsea’s character is more grown up in the second novel, there were many times where her actions and her dialogue didn’t seem to fit.  There were even times when she confused and annoyed me; whether or not this was the authors intention remains to be seen.  As mentioned I didn’t really care for Lily’s story until it really picked up in the end and even had some intriguing morsels to let us stew over until the final book.  Kelsea even does something very dangerous and her story ends on a cliff with many theories of what is to come, but there is a smaller story that escapes in the shadows that is even more of a mystery that I am more excited to see the result of than anything else we have seen.  The story of the priest is an unexpected source of adventure that comes late in the game and it may be risky to put so much stock in this relatively small role in the adventure to come.

The Fate of the Tearling, the final book in the trilogy, comes out in November of 2016 and without any obvious notices of it’s release I could easily see this one slipping through the cracks.  What’s worse is I’m not so sure I would even bother putting a reminder for the release date.  The Fate of the Tearling is truly a mystery to come, one that may never be revealed.

  1. Book summary courtesy of Harper Collins Erika Johansen book page.
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