Review Wednesday: The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling #3
Goodreads Blurb:
In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies – chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.

To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable – naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea – and the Tearling itself – will be revealed…

With The Fate of the Tearling, Erika Johansen draws her unforgettable story full of magic and adventure to a thrilling close.”

I’m so sad to see this series draw to a close.  I’ve so enjoyed getting to know Kelsea and her Guard and watching her grow as a ruler.  That being said, while I don’t think this was the best series ender ever, it did a fine job wrapping everything up.
1.  The characters.  Like I said, I truly enjoyed getting to know all of the characters even more.  This book deals with some complex themes like morality and sacrifice which leads to some great character development.  I loved Kelsea as the MC.  She wasn’t perfect (and had her flaws on full display) but she tries her best to keep the kingdom in order and find out what she can do to right a wrong that started the Tearling on this horrid path.  The supporting characters are all wonderful as well; Mace, Pen, Elston, Katie, Jonathan, etc etc.  I loved how the author brought in the past characters as well as the present ones to give the reader a first hand look at what happened in the beginning, after the Crossing.
2.  The background.  In my review of the first book of this series, I mentioned wishing that there was more information on the Crossing and what happened in the early days of the Tearling.  We finally get a pretty whole picture in this book (although there are still pieces missing albeit not incredibly significant pieces) which I loved.  The Crossing seemed like such a mysterious event and the sapphires with their magic especially confuzzled me.  However, this book wrapped it all up nicely and presented it with multiple POV’s which was very much appreciated.
3.  The plot.  The plot is pretty varied.  Sometimes it sped up and I just had to keep reading.  Other times, there was a lot of introspection and abstract theorizing which dragged it down a bit.  Overall, though, there’s plenty of overall drive and it’s fascinating seeing what Kelsea does to try and win back her kingdom and deal with increasing threats that have emerged from the past.  The ending, though, is the main point I want to talk about here.  To be non-spoilery, it was definitely unexpected.  I truly do understand why the author chose to end it like that, what with the different themes the author is exploring (more on that later), however, as a reader, I wanted more closure and perhaps an epilogue a few years down the road.  It was incredibly fascinating, however, and played into the themes so, so well.  One quick note: the romance drops off sharply in this book which I loved.  It played into the themes so well and also demonstrated the necessity of a Queen to think of policy and her people first.
4.  The themes.  As mentioned above, the themes played such a huge role in this book.  Kelsea explores the past through her sapphires and learns about so many events that took place in the early years which influenced where the Tearling ended up.  She constantly struggles with what she is willing to give for her kingdom to flourish and if it is morally right for her to exert her will on others via the sapphires.  The idea of a utopia is also explored much more deeply in this book than in the other two (mainly because of the additional background on what went wrong in the Town) which I enjoyed.  The idea that a utopia is an impossibility because of human nature came up quite a bit.  I enjoyed these themes immensely and I love that the author chose them to intertwine with the story of a girl who inherits a kingdom.  This is such an onion book: you can either stick with the adventures of a young queen, or you can delve deeper into the psychological reasoning behind the utopia failure and morality and sacrifice.
5.  The setting.  One aspect I think the author let go a tiny bit is the macro-setting/world.  There is a map provided which helped a bunch but there was a lack of information on the customs of each country and, generally speaking, the lives of the people in Mortmesne and Cadare.  The author made a tradeoff with the intense development of theme and while the setting wasn’t dearly missed, I did notice that everything felt less real because of it.
The Final Verdict:
A truly beautiful onion book with intense development of theme and character.  The plot kept everything moving along nicely as well, even as the macro-setting rhetoric dropped off.
4.5 stars

“Sometimes I think: if they want to walk around armed and build fences and let a church tell them what to do, let them wallow in it. They can build their own town of closed thinking, and live there, and find out later what a shitty place it really is.”

“Hell? Hell is a fairy tale for the gullible, for what punishment could be worse than that we inflict upon ourselves? We burn so badly in this life that there can be nothing left.”

“These people are so damned proud of their hatred! Hatred is easy, and lazy to boot. It’s love that demands effort, love that exacts a price from each of us. Love costs; this is its value.”

“They’re good, these stories,” Mace continued, his cheeks stained with light color. “They teach the pain of others.” “Empathy. Carlin always said it was the great value of fiction, to put us inside the minds of strangers.”

0 thoughts on “Review Wednesday: The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen”

  1. It's quite the mixed bag for this series. I'm one of the people who absolutely loves it (it's one of my all-time favorite series') but other people haven't liked it. I'd be interested to see if you liked it! Thanks for stopping by, Jenny!


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