[The Queen of the Tearling: The Queen of the Tearling 1] Erika Johansen

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The Queen of the Tearling was one of my favorite novels that I read in 2015. This series is set in a feudal fantasy world with a main protagonist who makes mistakes as she comes into her own power. Kelsea Raleigh has been in hiding for most of her life. When she comes of age, Kelsea has to return to a kingdom that she has been so removed from that she doesn’t know if its people will even love her. She has to pick up the fractured pieces of the kingdom and its people all while dealing with the repercussions of actions she hardly understands. It is a tale of adventure and political intrigue, which can sometimes fall under the boring spectrum for me. Although it had a bit of a slow start, The Queen of the Tearling became a book that I couldn’t put down.

What works for Queen of the Tearling was surprising. Political intrigue isn’t always something that works for me as a reader; it sometimes can go too in depth without actually expressing the direness of the situation or becomes too dry with names and places à la Game of Thrones (at times). So although there were a lot of situations that dealt with politics her mother or uncle had set up, it was interesting to read how Kelsea dealt with them. She also made a lot of mistakes politically that had consequences that she had to deal with. They weren’t glossed over because they were used to show how she grew and reacted as a ruler.

I also loved that this novel was straight up fantasy (and strangely labeled as dystopic, but more on that later). There are romantic inklings, but the plot didn’t suddenly become focused on that, which is one of my reading pet-peeves. It was not the point of the plot. Don’t get me wrong, I love fantasy books that also have romance, but only when that’s what I’m signing up for. The world building in this is wonderful. I was very interested in why and how Kelsea’s necklace was magical. Answers to that and other questions I had about the world were not spoon fed to me, but instead were answered in time and at an appropriate moment. I was eager to find the answers, which was one of the reasons why I just couldn’t stop reading. Of course, not all of them were answered so I need to get my hands on the next book in the series.

The only time that the world building was nearly brought to a screeching halt was the first time more modern things were referenced in this medieval world. For whatever reason the author decided that this needed to be a dystopic novel, which I still don’t understand. Kelsea’s ancestors fled their world to start a new one, which strangely then reverted to a medieval lifestyle. I didn’t see why it was necessary to do this. I preferred the fantasy medieval setting over the dystopic one, and found it strange that it was technically a combination of the two. Luckily, modern things were not brought up very often so I was able to ignore this problem and it didn’t bring my rating down. It is one of the strangest world building things that I’ve come across, however, and I wish it hadn’t been included.

I wasn’t sure if I would like this when I first started reading it due to a kind of shaky start, but once it really hit its stride in the adventure department, I was hooked. Super excited to check out the second novel!

5 stars.

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