Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen

Clearly there's something wrong with me, because I liked this book. Maybe it's because I stumbled upon it on the shelf rather than hearing all the hype and predictions of "book of the century". I will admit that I am a little annoyed that this now appears to be the first in a trilogy (how unusual) and I'll have to read on to have a couple of questions answered, if the books come out in a timely fashion.  But even knowing that, the story interested me.

Essentially, something caused the world as we know it to cease, and the survivors got in boats and sailed to the new world (okay, this part could have used a bit more explaining, or a map, at least, as there are references to an old America on one side of the ocean and to New Europe on the side where the story takes place. Yes, a map would actually be nice.) Once there, a sort of feudal/ medieval  society started up, and of course went amok. Tearling, a small country, with not much of value besides farming and Tearling Oaks, has become subservient to Mortmesne, ruled by the Red Queen. (Okay, eye rolling is acceptable. I'm not sure if names were chosen as tribute, foreshadow, or what. Seriously, even without a Red Queen, you know that Mortmesne is gonna be the bad guy.) Tearling has a lazy, weak regent, in power since his sister died years before, but not before she sent her infant daughter Kelsea safely into hiding. But now, Kelsea is 19, and it's showtime!

The story is that of Kelsea claiming her throne and making the first salvo into getting Tearling into a better place. There's the Queen's Guard on her side, and a mysterious Robin Hood type character, named Fetch, and some rescued souls. But there are also the requisite baddies: evil do-ers,  schemers, workers of magic, traitors. It's not a genius tale, but it's not bad. And Kelsea is not a beautiful, strong, athletic young woman, but she grows to overcome her shortcomings.

But my greatest pleasure in this book? All the references to books -- books we know and love, or know and despise. Books! And Kelsea's greatest joy in life is reading. Books!

“Even a book can be dangerous in the wrong hands, and when that happens, you blame the hands, but you also read the book.” 

I'll read on, because  I 'm kind of curious to find out who her father was and why it's so important.

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