Release date: July 2014
Target audience: Adult
Publisher: Random House
The Queen of the Tearling is an epic fantasy, it's almost a fairy tale story of a great monarch. This is the story of how a leader comes to be a legend. It's full of tension, secrets and the dark deeds in the search for power.
Kelsea was raised in the forest hidden away from all in her kingdom, the heir to the throne of the Tearling she had a price on her head. She never knew her mother but always imagined she would have been a great queen. When Kelsea turns nineteen, the Queen's Guard come to take her to her kingdom. There are many who stand in the way of her coronation - her letch of an Uncle, the Caden (a band of assassins) but her biggest enemy is the Red Queen of Mortmense. The Red Queen is rumoured to be a witch who is has all the surrounding realms in her suffocating grasp. Kelsea's heard of The Mort Treaty but she knows nothing of the terms. Her Guard have made a vow of secrecy to her mother so there are many secrets which Kelsea must discover. They will obliterate any idea of her mother as a great ruler. But will her own reign last long enough for her to change things?
I loved reading this book. I found it so compelling and well written. Kelsea is an interesting character. Living a life with foster parents and being educated to make a great queen, she should know all there is to know about the Tearling but there are many things she is unaware of. She has to learn quickly in order to survive.
The characterisation in this novel was excellent. The author gave each character a strong motivation to drive their actions: vanity, pride, rage - the characters were dynamic and convincing. I thought the Mace and the Fetch were both strong male voices and their relationship with Kelsea made great reading.
I really liked the exploration of the theme of monarchy and leadership and the idea of nature versus nurture. The setting for the Tearling realm is a land which is depleted of resources but almost felt medieval. It was like reading a historical fantasy yet the book is in fact set in the future. Many years ago there was the Crossing to these new lands under the idealist William Tear - he had hopes of building a utopian society but sadly that dream has long since been lost. What actually happened pre-Crossing was a mystery to me but I think that is also how it is for Kelsea. I'm sure that this will become clear in future books.
The magic is also just beginning to reveal itself by the end of the book. This is not Hogwarts. There's no spell-learning. The magic comes from a mysterious source and has the potential for good or evil deeds, I think.
I enjoyed The Queen of the Tearling immensely. I can't wait to read the next instalment. If you enjoyed Trudi Canavan's Age of Five series or Kristen Britain's Green Riders, then you'll love this. I know I did. A thrilling read indeed and everything you want in a fantasy novel for adults.