Review : The Queen Of The Tearling by Erika Johansen

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An untested young princess must claim her throne, learn to become a queen, and combat a malevolent sorceress in an epic battle between light and darkness in this spectacular debut—the first novel in a trilogy.

Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.

Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.

Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”

Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her.  (From: Goodreads)

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Kelsea was going to be the queen. She needed to go back to the castle to get crowned. There were a lot of people who were trying to kill her. Her soldiers had to make sure that she’d always be safe. However, they failed again and again. She needed to be careful. She needed to know whom she could trust and whom she couldn’t.

Try to survive. Try not to get killed.

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The idea of the story is sort of like The Hunger Games (don’t die), but only it was set in the future kingdom. Yes. Future kingdom. No. It’s not a high-tech and cool world. It’s just a kingdom like those in the medieval. (I had trouble getting the time-line right during reading this book.)

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I’ve read so many books which were boring to me for the past few weeks, so I really want to read a good one. I finally picked up this book because I’ve always loved dystopian kingdom fantasy. However, this story didn’t turn out THAT dystopian. New World okay… New London excuse me? And even this New London Bridge what the hell? It’s like you just need to put a ‘New’ before each spot and you can get the map of this New World. I wonder if New York becomes New New York.

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Funny thing is that the world building in this story is totally just medieval, not New at all. The soldiers, the guards, the king-wannabe uncle, the enemies from outside, the enemies from inside, and the enemies under her eyelids. The young queen who was only 19. She shared the same age as I am now. Thank God that no one tries to kill me or wants to kill me. (I hope.)

Kelsea Glynn, the young queen, who should be a novice at being a queen. Nevertheless, she was an expert showing her queen attitude. She had already been good at knife/dagger hunting before she became the queen. However, she was willing to learn more about fighting and politics. Besides, she was very concerned about her weight. Oh my god! Seriously? She was not competing a pageant queen! One good thing I love is her library. It was huge and she was willing to let everyone use it. That was very impressive. As a queen, she was not possessive of her beloved books.

“Do I look like a girl’s girl to you, Lazarus?” Kelsea felt her voice rising. Several heads had turned toward them now. “Do I look like I spend hours in front of the mirror?”

This would be the first time she met The Mace. Well…Kelsea’s old house didn’t have any mirror.

She stared at him for a moment, considering, then replied, “It depends, Lazarus. I have a saddlebags full of dolls and dresses to play with. Do you want to do my hair?”

She then started developing a sarcastic close relationship with The Mace.

“Well, Dyer, you’re not dealing with my mother. You’re dealing with me.”

Kelsea was totally being like ‘ha ha, I win!’

“I may sit on the throne for only one day, but if you don’t open those cage right now, I swear before Great God that my sole act as Queen will be to watch every one of you die for treason! You will not live to see another sunset!  Will you test my word?

Thorne was such a bad guy, such a bad guy, such a bad guy, who should just team up with Thomas.

“Pen. Can I have Pen?”
“Christ, what a relief. Pen wants the job so badly that I don’t know what I’d do with him otherwise.”

Wow. Why? Why trusted Pen without any doubt? This part was a little bit…weird.

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After a moment she realized, bemused, that it was Dyer. He’d shaved his red beard. “Dyer, is that your face under there?”

When you’re the queen, you can bitchtalk to anyone anytime you want.

“You’re a piece of work, Lazarus.”

Indeed!!! He brought all of her books to the castle, a great library.

The Mace, Lazarus, the most protective soldier, who is also my favourite character. He was responsible and full of surprising.

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“You have to sleep sometimes.”
“Not really. The world’s too dangerous to fall asleep in.”
“What about when you were a child?”
“I was never a child.”

Poor Lazarus, just this sentence broke my heart. Childhood is the best thing ever happened in my life. How did Lazarus have fun?

“Wonderful.” Kelsea sucked in a breath as he tightened a strap around her arm. “It doesn’t even cover my back.”
“I cover your back.”

Aaaaaah….Lazarus! That was very very thoughtful. Wait…was that why the armor wasn’t made to cover her back? LOL.

“I don’t fear death, Lady.”
She nodded. Mace didn’t fear anything; she already knew that.
“But I don’t want to die at your hands.”

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“What have you lost, Lazarus?”
“Lady?”
“You’d told Mhurn that you’d all lost something. What have <i>you</i> lost?”
“Everything.”
Kelsea shrank from the bitterness in his voice. “Have you gained something now?”
“I have, Lady, and I value it. Go to sleep.”

The Fetch, a mysterious young/old man. Yep. Kelsea thought he was young but uncle, Thomas had encountered The Fetch, the notorious thief, years ago, so he must have been not that young.

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“God bless your uncle. His taste in allies is no better than his taste in clothing.”

Well…it could be a new fashion.

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“But you needn’t worry, girl. You’re far too plain for my taste.”

Good. And this sentence made Kelsea head ache, lack of self-confidence. And, wow, this man was straight.

“I can get to anyone in this kingdom. I am more dangerous than the Caden. I’ve stolen many things from the Regent, and he’s been under my knife. I could’ve killed him many times over, but that I had to wait.”

That uncle who had bad taste of clothings shouldn’t even deserve to live longer!

The Fetch reached out with one hand, and Kelsea instinctively drew back. But he only touched the very edges of her hair, cropped close around her head, and spoke softly. “Look what you’ve down to yourself.”

And then he was trying to be a caring boyfriend? Once again, Kelsea blushed, of course. She was thinking about how good-looking The Fetch was all the time.

Pen was the youngest guard who later became Kelsea’s bodyguard.

He turned to Pen. “Pen, you’ll trade your horses with the Queen as well. If we’re fortunate, they’ll put all their energy into tracking the mare.”

Poor Pen that he had to take the risk of getting killed. And it was call ‘if we’re fortunate’.

“I’m sworn, Majesty.”
“But sworn to whom? If it came down to a choice between the Captain of Guard and myself, which way would you go?”
“Don’t force me to answer that, Lady.”
“I won’t, Pen, not today. But you either trust me or you don’t. And if you don’t, I no longer want you as my close guard.”

Well…clearly, Pen was one of the guys who were afraid of Mace more than Kelsea, but Pen was just worried about her safety.

Okay, let’s get into some details (spoiler alert!!!)

The Queen’s Guard would cart her back to the Keep kicking and screaming, if need be, and imprison her on the throne, and there she would sit, hung with velvet and silk, until she was assassinated.

This is really really radical. imprison her on the throne……until she was assassinated

Kelsea started at the letter, fascinated. Her mother was long dead, and yet here was something she had written, actually touched.

Such a shame. Kelsea had never talked to her mother, and yet what she had left her made her touched.

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“But don’t allow reliance on weapons to impair your mind, Kelsea. Your wits have always been sound; see that you don’t lose them along the way. It’s easy to do so when you pick up a sword.”

Ah…right. Cleverness always wins the fight, always.

Before that day, Kelsea had thought of Carlin as her foster mother, if not the real thing. But now she understood that she had no mother at all, only a cold old woman who demanded, then withheld.

Carlin, the foster mother, who had been a lady in the castle seemed to be a very serious woman. She was the master of the house. Barry, the foster father, who was younger and had been a guard in the castle couldn’t even speak louder than her.

Hawks were beautiful creatures, and good food as well, but Barry had told her that in Mortmense, and even on the Tear border, hawks were trained as weapons of assassination.

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The hawk swooped in from her right and Kelsea ducked again, but not soon enough. Talons punctured her neck and ripped through the skin. Blood, thick and warm, oozed down to her collarbone.

The Queen’d got her first attack…by the hawk.

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After a moment, Kelsea realized that she was watching the rhythm of the man’s dying pulse, his heart pumping out his lifeblood onto the sand.

It’s always good to know that the queen had a secret interest in blood. Afterall, she’d just got scratched by a bloodthirsty hawk. Damn vampire joke!

Kelsea snapped; she was angry at herself for finding this man attractive, and it seemed very important that he not know.

Girl. Though she was a queen-to-be then, she was still a girl. And she found that The Fetch was attractive.

Kelsea found the Fetch leaning against a tree, staring at her, his gaze flat and speculative. When she met his eye, he smiled, a dark and frozen smile that made her flinch.
Not just a thief, but a murderer as well. Beneath the hadnsome man, Kelsea sensed another man, a terrible one, with a life as black as the water in an ice-covered lake. A murderer many, many times.
The idea should have brought horror. Kelsea waited for a long moment, but what came instead was an even worse realization: it didn’t matter at all.

Yep. She still couldn’t help herself even though she knew how dangerous he was.

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‘I am Death. I come quickly, I come slowly, but I am not cheated.’

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“This necklace is yours; I don’t claim it for myself. But I’m going to hold on to it.”

Kelsea’s mind must have been going like “sure!  you can keep it as long as you want.”

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The Queen might think she’d leashes this particular dog, but Arlen Throne had no leash, and she’d find that out soon enough.

Well…if Arlen could be as cute as African wild dogs…

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Several things happened all at once. A man shouted behind her, and Kelsea felt a knifing pain in her left shoulder. Mace shoved her flat to the floor and crouched above her, shielding her with his body. A woman screamed in the audience, an entire world away.

The Queen got ambushed for the second time. This was during her crowning. (And they couldn’t even locate the crown? They had to borrow/take a tiara from a lady!!)

Thorne had never seemed so much like a spider as he did at that moment; he’d crept out from a corner to repair his web, and wait with an endless, malebolent patience for some helpless thing caught and thrashing.

The Best Quote of The Book!!!

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Oh, who cares? They’ve all seen me naked now. The idea was aweful, so mortifying that Kelsea found herself giggling helplessly.

Uh…do control yourself, Lady. I believe that she somehow suffered from some light mental illnesses. Why? Because she almost got assassinated in her own bathroom just then, for the third time!!!

It’s difficult to analyze the motivations of a traitor. Some betray their country for money, some for revenge. Some do so in order to satisfy a feeling of true alienation from their country’s values. Some betray when they have to no choice. Often these reasons will blur; treachery is hardly a one-size-fits-all proposition. Indeed, one of the most famous traitors in Tear history sold his country for the most basic motive of all: because he didn’t know why he shouldn’t.

RATS

He gave Tyler a benevolent smile that put Tyler immediately on his guard, dissolving the pity like sugar.

The discreet of the church……

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Javel’s stomach twisted again, more sharply now, as though someone had reached in through his navel, grabbed a handful of moving parts, and squeezed until something popped.

Little Gate Guard…(shooking my head, sighing)

At first, I was excited to read this book. It was good at the first few chapters. However, it seemed like they were playing the same routes over and over again. Conspiracies. Assassination attempts. Be careful.

I honestly don’t recommend this book unless you really like to read kingdom stories and stories of being-very-careful-because-you-might-get-killed-at-any-moment.

3 out of 5 stars

P.S. I am super super disappointed after finishing this book…because Emma Watson’s taste of books isn’t the same as mine.

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