I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #3) by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #3
Published: November 29th 2016 by Harper
Source: TLC Book Tours
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I’ve been following the Queen of the Tearling series for several years now, and have been impatiently awaiting the final installment of the book. The Fate of the Tearling is not the ending that I expected, but I found it satisfying nonetheless.
For any of you who haven’t read the previous two books, here’s the concept in a nutshell: Our modern Earth goes hella fascist, and life gets pretty dark. A band of survivors led by a man named William Tear manage to escape, and travel on ships across time/space to a new world where they can create a better future–but something goes wrong. Human nature gets in the way of Tear’s utopian vision, and you get the Tearling, a kingdom that’s Game-of-Thrones mixed with the Hunger Games. After being raised in the forest by her aunt and uncle, a teenager named Kelsea Raleigh becomes its queen. She’s rightfully outraged by the injustices she finds in her newly inherited kingdom, and tries to set things right, but she’s fighting against generations of compounding mistakes, and it’s a losing battle. Meanwhile, the crown jewels are imbued with magical properties, and offer Kelsea glimpses into the Tearling’s past.
The Tear sapphires and their powers provide a way to unite the past and the present, so that we are following two parallel but related storylines. In The Invasion of the Tearling, we alternate between Kelsea’s problems in the future, and a young woman named Katie who lived in the time right after the crossing. Katie’s story is at the center of understanding what went wrong with the Tearling in the first place, and understanding the past is the key to fixing the future.
Along with Katie’s story, The Invasion of the Tearling returns to characters old and new. I particularly enjoyed the treatment of the Red Queen. In the first book, I felt like she was a ripoff of Melisandre from A Song of Ice and Fire, but the following two books fleshed her out a lot more as a character. Because Kelsea spent time in the Red Queen’s head, we’re able to empathize with her to a degree, and understand the ways in which she was a product of her own upbringing and not just a haphazard force of evil. And she’s still evil, don’t get me wrong, but she’s complexly evil, driven by her own insecurities and her desire to rise above a childhood of being someone else’s pawn.
There are many plot twists in The Invasion of the Tearling that I wasn’t expecting. I suspect that some readers will not enjoy the ending, because it seems like a Hollywood cop out. At the same time, I appreciated the thoughtfulness that Erika Johansen gives to how that ending impacts the characters. A lot of things happened to Kelsea in the past three books, and we get to see how she manages to live with herself and her decisions, none of which are without consequences. Everything comes with a cost, especially magic, and so the ending was both hopeful and bittersweet.
Actually, I think that general sentient sums up my thoughts on a lot of the plot points in this series–while many characters and events may not feel entirely original, the thoughtfulness that goes into them sets them apart from typical fantasy tropes.