Nineteen year old Kelsea has been collected from her foster parents by the Queen’s Guard. Her guard now. She must travel to New London to take her crown and dislodge the Regent who has ruled dishonestly since her mother’s death. As she learns the truth about her Kingdom, she sees her task won’t be easy and there are many who would stand in her way. Those who profit most will not welcome change.
It took me a while to get into but there was a turning point where it grabbed me. I’ve always struggled with epic fantasy but this one probably has less waiting for stuff to happen than most. It probably would have best for me to read it when I wasn’t so busy as it did suit being read it bite-size chunks. Despite the young protagonist, it is definitely not young adult in style or content.
Initially I was thrown off by the use of some modern words; things that wouldn’t exist in a world without science. But then The Crossing was mentioned. The original Tearlings came over from America and Europe, the relation to the worlds is never explained.* For once I would have liked more back story. It’s hard to fathom how people setting off to create a utopia end up with a medieval style world, with traces of modernity spattered about.
What I did like was the sense of hope throughout. Here is a world that is cruel and corrupt and a new ruler comes along and isn’t instantly thwarted. Kelsea has her troubles and she gets in deep water, but she leaves us with hope. Maybe she can do good. There might be no hope for the utopia, but there might be some for peace and fair treatment.
Kelsea was cleverly bought up in isolation but her education was stuffed to the brim with history and literature. She was kept from corruption and developed a good moral compass. I did fear for her safety a lot. She treads on many toes and it could seem like she gets out of things a little too easily, but it’s a refreshing change from doom and gloom.
Not that things don’t get dangerous. The Red Queen of Mortmesne was an interesting character, even if we don’t see much of her. She starts of as purely an evil enemy of Tearling but there’s more depth to her than that. There is a glimpse of how she became the way she is, and I would definitely read on in the trilogy to find out more.
So the world-building is a bit confusing but the characters definitely made up for it by the end. There is already a film in the pipeline from Harry Potter producer David Heyman starring Emma Watson. *The film teasers have said that a mysterious land mass appeared after an environmental disaster and the story is set 300 years later but I didn’t pick this up from the text at all.
The Queen of the Tearling is published by Bantam Press, an imprint of Transworld, and will be available from 17th July 2014 in hardback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Also reviewed @ No More Grumpy Bookseller
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
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