The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

3.5 Stars

The Queen of the Tearling is a solid introduction to the Tearling trilogy. It has a good balance

between world building and storytelling. There is enough adventure and intrigue throughout to keep

you coming back for more. It’s not perfect, and it didn’t quite make it to my ‘favourites’ shelf.

Perhaps one of the remaining novels in the trilogy will, I hope so.

The story follows Kelsea, the exiled heir as she journeys through the impoverished kingdom of Tear

to reclaim the throne that is rightfully hers. She is accompanied by the Queen’s Guard who travel

with her and face outlaws and assassination attempts on the way to the main city. Once there,

Kelsea discovers the awful treaty her mother signed with the neighbouring kingdom, and we watch

as she does all that she can to liberate her people and keep them from the clutches of the evil Red


There are a number of tropes here that are normally associated with fantasy novels; the orphan, the

evil queen, the country with unfamiliar names that are difficult to pronounce. There are however a

number of unique features that help make this story stand out from the crowd; Kelsea has a plain

appearance and at no point during the story becomes beautiful or stunning. There is no love story

that dominates and serves to drive the story forward. Books and fiction are highly valued by Kelsea

and have played an important part in her education.

The continued reference to Kelsea’s plain appearance quickly became a sticking point for me. Her

unconventional appearance should have been a positive but it instead became an over emphasised

point that the author continually want to remind us about.

Although the main character is a strong woman, the same cannot be said for the supporting female

characters. They are template characters who need to be saved from violence. The interesting

supporting characters are all male.

The magical system, if there is one, is left wide open and the end of the novel so we have no idea

what rules govern the magical powers. You are left with the feeling that no matter what happens

magic will save the day in the end.

Overall I enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to someone who enjoys fantasy and adventure

and isn’t looking for something that will re-define the genre. I’m looking forward to reading the

sequel, “The Invasion of the Tearling” and hope the world will be expanded, the magical system will

be explained in some detail and the supporting female characters are given a bit more depth.


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