Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling

Kelsea Glynn sat very still, watching the troop approach her homestead.

I picked this up thinking “Oh this seems like a reasonably straightforward, returning sovereign type fantasy thing”. I was very happy to be proved wrong! It begins much in the ‘returning-sovereign-will-save-the-land’ vein, in a seemingly high fantasy world with the rightful heir to the throne (Kelsea Glynn) having been raised in a cottage in a wood somewhere by Carlin and Barty Glynn. A troop of soldiers arrive to take her to New London to be crowned, and then… Well, then everything flies wonderfully off the hook. Not so abruptly that it’s jarring; but we slowly realise that no, this is not a typical high fantasy story. It doesn’t actually look as though Kelsea is even going to make it as far as New London, let alone get crowned, because the Regent (her uncle) has formed an alliance with the Tearling’s scary neighbour (Mortmesne) and is sending assassins after her. There are killer hawks! There are guild assassins and bits of magic and a sort of highwayman bandit type who might be helpful.

Kelsea is also realising that she has been consistently lied to about, well, something… She does not know what. And that she is lacking a lot of experience and knowledge. And that her guards are lying to her as well. She’s a fantastically tenacious protagonist, who starts out with a good knowledge base but little experience and then learns really fast because it’s learn or die and Kelsea has decided that she’s not going to die before she even gets to her throne. The scene when she does finally get crowned is exhilarating and the story doesn’t end there!

The worldbuilding is also excellent – I could babble about it for hours. I’m going to avoid that though (because spoilers) and just say that it’s one of the most interesting fantasy set-ups I’ve seen in a while. The politics all weave together with the history and the brutality of feudal-ish lifestyles and the tension between the state and the church. Excellent, so excellent. A fantastic story about a new ruler coming into power, set against a brilliantly conceived world – I am eagerly waiting for the sequel to come back to the library.

Rating: read this book. Aim to be half as hardcore as Kelsea Glynn.

And then, radio silence

Hello all. Yes it has been an absolute age since I’ve been on here at all. I assure you that I am in fact alive and semi-functioning. It’s just that recently, I have been feeling a bit like this:

Sue White and Alan StathamSo, as you can imagine, it’s been challenging even thinking about posting anything. But I’m back, at least temporarily. Hopefully I’ll have some reviews for you soon – I’ve been reading non-fiction books! My goodness, what a shock *fans self* perhaps I should lie down until this phase passes and I’m safely back to fantasy?

I even read history books, which was actually counterproductive to me learning about history because generally history makes me so angry that I end up yelling and throwing things about. As far as I can tell, all anyone bothers writing about is years and years of rich bastards prancing around on horses with falcons or something while everyone else starves/goes to war/has a generally shit time. I’m trying desperately to find history that is about normal people, but as writing was for a long time restricted to people who had enough money and time to learn it (because they weren’t desperately trying to grow enough food to not die or something similar) that is really hard because there just aren’t many records to go on. Besides, politics now is shit enough without having to read about hundreds of years of people in suits/crowns/robes getting to make decisions that affect everyone without input from the people who have to live with those decisions. Pah!

And thus ends my accidental rant… Book reviews soon!


P.S the image is from a show called GreenWing, which is a fantastic comedy set in a hospital ward. Watch it.