Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is the next queen of the Tearling, that is – if she makes it alive to the capital to claim her throne. The sole heir has lived in exile her entire life, hidden away from her people and the regent – her uncle, who has ruled her kingdom in her absence. As she ascends her throne, she realises that not only is she the queen of a weak and corrupt kingdom, but also a daughter that keeps paying for her mothers mistakes. The question is, will she be able to make things right, or will she be killed before she even has a crown on her head?
The Queen of the Tearling captured me right from the start, as Kelsea leaves her protected life in the woods far away from the capital, she sets out on a dangerous journey. A journey that makes her, and the reader, aware of how little she knows of the status of her kingdom. As it will turn out, not knowing much about what is going will be your mantra for this novel.
The story takes place in the fictitious kingdom of the Tearling. As the story unfolded I started to get a little confused, a city named New London or the reference to some of my favourite authors from «our» world were mentioned. Another mystery is «The Crossing». You get the sense that just the word, «The Crossing», should mean something to you – but you have no idea what this crossing is or what it means.
I have to admit, that at first this was a little annoying – but as I followed Kelsea through her struggles, I sympathised with her, not even she knows what is going on and she is the main character. The questions in my mind did pile up, and by the end I kept wondering what the Tearling really was. A new discovered land? A new planet? Or just a dream?
Little by little I realised that this meant that the first kings, ascended from the Tearling family crossed from, what I assumed to be, our world. Or something like our world. What ever happened, well, you wont know at this point. So if you are the sort of reader that absolutely hates not knowing what is going on – consider yourself warned. You will not know what it is – at least not in this novel. Even though I am not a huge fan of being kept in the dark, it works. The things you do learn and discover throughout the novel points, in my opinion to a bigger picture. What that picture is, I am not sure, but there is more to learn, the question is will you have the patience to wait for it?
The Red Queen series really had me going on about having a young female protagonist – reading the Tearling series; I now wonder how on earth I will like Mare Barrow when I go back to that series (anxiously waiting for the next book!). Compared to Mare, Kelsea is everything she is not. Kelsea seems to be more mature about her own role, and even though she has her insecurities; she works through them and deals with them in a better way.
Here I really did enjoy the characters, from the unreadable Fetch to the annoying noblewoman Lady Andrews. Most of the characters develop through the novel and by the end of it – I had the feeling that I had not seen the end of that development. That is also part of why I enjoyed this book so much, there is so much more to their stories than you think. Even the Gate guard has a bigger role in this than I expected – and I do hope I get to know more of his story in the next novel.
The Red Queen is the main villain in the novel – and we are not told much about her (surprise!), except the fact that she is the mysterious queen of Mortmesne, the neighbouring kingdom. This queen has her own dark secrets and surprisingly even has her own villain to fear. What this mysterious villain is, I am at this point not entirely sure – but it has me intrigued.
Overall, The Queen of the Tearling captured me quickly, and I read the book in two days as I could not put it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen, how it would end and what the sapphires Kelsea carries mean. The plot is good, the characters develop and I like how everything somehow is connected. The past, the present and the future.
The only thing that I struggled with was the part of knowing so little, there is a constant knowledge that you do not know what has happened in the past, the characters will not reveal the past and you only get hints of a lost world. How all of that comes together in the next novel will be interesting, but I do think I wont find out anything until I have read the last page of The Fate of the Tearling. Patience is a virtue they say, and for this novel – oh I am so struggling with patience.
Another favourite element of the novel are all the great quotes, here is one of them:
«Carlin often said that history was everything, for it was in man’s nature to make the same mistakes over and over»