Queen of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling #1) by Erika Johansen

It was on her nineteenth birthday that the soldiers came for Kelsea Glynn. They came to escort her back to the place of her birth - and to ensure she survives long enough to take possession of what is rightfully hers. But like many nineteen year olds, Kelsea is unruly, has high principles and believes she knows better than her elders. Unlike most nineteen year olds, she is about to inherit a kingdom that is on its knees - corrupt, debauched and very dangerous. Kelsea will either become the most fearsome ruler the kingdom has ever known...or be dead with the week (from Amazon).

Rating:

I've been trying to get myself to read this for about a month now, and have only just gotten round to actually picking it up. So apologies for posting this book review so much later than promised. 

Kelsea is our heroine, a young woman raised with the understanding she will one day rule. She never fought the idea, as such; it just never seemed real to her. Not until the day the Queen's Guard come for her. Kelsea quickly proves she is not the girl her mother was, and has plans for her kingdom. This book just sort of follows the fallout from those decisions, and it works. 

Johansen plays to her strengths and keeps the story simple - she is establishing Kelsea as a monarch. It is not easy, and Kelsea makes a lot of enemies along the way. The third person perspective allows us insight into other characters other than Kelsea; we see the motivations of the other characters, good and evil, and allows a deeper understanding of every move they make. 

Kelsea is such a great character, because she is just so rough around the edges. There's nothing worse than a 'Mary-Sue' female heroine, and Kelsea is anything but perfect. She is stubborn, has her weaknesses, and does feel fear. She just never lets it stop her, and that's always the mark of a true heroine.

The men of the Queen's Guard are wonderful as well; a lot of variety in personality, but all loyal to their vows. They have been anticipating Kelsea's return to the Keep for almost two decades, and she isn't quite how they expected her to be, and so she keeps them on their toes a little bit. I liked the dynamic they had with Kelsea, particularly Kelsea and Lazarus. There was a real fondness for each other's minds and strength there, and despite Kelsea's age and inexperience he did trust her judgement, as she proved a fresh set of eyes. Pen also seemed quite sweet, but there wasn't much character development there. Which I can forgive, because there was no time in this book. The next one, perhaps. 

Lots of other characters were introduced, such as one of Kelsea's ladies at court, Andalie, and Marguerite, a former member of Kelsea's uncle's harem. They all have potential for being very interesting, very important characters, so I'm excited to see where the other books in the series take them. The Fetch is an enigma, a character without a real name but seems to have a connection with Kelsea; I do wish to see more of him too, as his presence could really raise the stakes in the future. And I wish to know exactly who he is. 

There seemed to be historical inspiration laced within the story, which I liked. Kelsea's journey to power reminded me of Queen Elizabeth I. Two young woman, up against great odds, ready to fight for their crown and their people. The plot moved at a steady pace and at times, I really found I just couldn't put it down as things were getting very interesting. Lots of breadcrumbs were dropped that I would assume are going to be picked up and expanded on in the sequels, but this really seems like a solid basis for a book series that could be legitimately fantastic. 

I would love to see an adaptation of this sometime soon, maybe after we get another book or two in the series so we all have an idea of where the story is going. There is some speculation regarding a film adaptation, so who knows? 

I'll definitely be reading book 2, and am looking to get my hands on a copy soon. I won't be buying the hardback though, which is the only one you can get in the UK at the moment. It doesn't match my cover, and as much as I enjoyed this book, I won't be buying a book that doesn't match. 


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