The Queen of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling Trilogy #1)

The Queen of the Tearling (Queen of the Tearling Trilogy #1)

4.4 96
by Erika Johansen

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A #1 Indie Next Pick and LibraryReads Selection

Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess


A #1 Indie Next Pick and LibraryReads Selection

Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler—and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend . . . if she can survive.

This book will be a beautifully designed package with illustrated endpapers, a map of the Tearling, and a ribbon marker.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Princess Kelsea has been hiding in the forests of the Tearling since her mother's death, training for the role she will have to play when she turns 19 and becomes the queen. But once Kelsea arrives in the capital and proves her right to the throne, her troubles begin. Her uncle had been acting as regent, and the alliance he made with the sorcerous Red Queen of neighboring Mortmesne is the first thing Kelsea decides to change. She will have to find allies fast as her actions threaten to plunge her kingdom into war. VERDICT Johansen's debut is a solid fantasy that doesn't stray very far from the traditional playbook. Intriguing references to a "great crossing" that happened 2,000 years ago and led to the immigrants' civilization losing access to higher technology could have added depth if developed (perhaps it will be in future volumes). The novel does have a strong heroine, but the publicity campaign describing this as Game of Thrones meets Hunger Games is misguided. Libraries will want to purchase, as the movie is already in the works with Emma Watson set to star. [See Prepub Alert, 2/1/14; also named the top Indie Next pick for July.—Ed.]
Bernard Cornwell
The Queen of the Tearling is a gripping read with an enchanting heroine. Erika Johansen has created a wonderful world and I can’t wait to read more.”
Wall Street Journal
“Quite possibly the highlight of one’s vacation. . . . This spectacular debut is the first novel in a trilogy that is sure to entertain readers everywhere.”
USA Today
“Call it The Hunger Games of Thrones. Erika Johansen’s debut novel is a genre mashup: medieval fantasy meets dystopian future. . . . An addictive and enjoyable adventure.”
Romantic Times
“Johansen’s intrigues and plots are pitch perfect.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Queen Kelsea is the most compelling badass heroine since Katniss Everdeen in this fantasy epic set in a neo-feudal future.”
Seattle Times
“Johansen’s strong, efficient prose convincingly conveys the pressures and inevitabilities facing a determined young woman confronting the dangers of a violent era.”
New York Post
“A gripping read. . . . Johansen spins an engaging story with plenty of action . . . and intriguing characters.”
“Johansen’s dark, dizzying time machine is what made this book impossible to put down. You’re in the twenty-fourth century, but also the Middle Ages? The implications made us see our world today—particularly technology and education—in a new light.”
“A bright new entry in the fantasy genre. A heady mixture of adventure, romance, magic and mystery, this debut novel from Erika Johansen is a captivating work.”
Booklist (starred review)
“An impressive start to a series, Johansen expertly incorporates magic necklaces, political intrigue, questions of honor, well-drawn characters, and a bit of mystery into a compelling and empowering story.”
Forget The Hunger Games (sorry!): The Queen of Tearling is the best YA novel I’ve read in ages.”
McClatchy News Service
“You could write The Queen of the Tearling off as yet another young-adult female fantasy novel, but that would be doing it an injustice. . . .The world created by Johansen is solidly drawn with interesting characters - all with hidden pasts, traumas and flashing swords.”
Shelf Awareness
“An epic series sure to enthrall adult and teenage readers alike. [Johansen’s] hybrid world blends dystopia with high fantasy for an unforgettable adventure.”
A.V. Club
“[The Queen of the Tearling] has engaging characters and moves effortlessly through moment after captivating moment; I could not put it down.”
“This book absolutely kept me turning the pages at maximum speed, while also soaking up all of the fun character bits. . . . Kelsea has a lot of emotional and psychological complexity along with her extreme competence. . . . A superfast, ridiculously fun read.”
Lauren Oliver
“This book worked on me with all the subtle power of an addiction: by the time I realized I was hooked, it was far too late to stop.”
Amy McCulloch
The Queen of the Tearling is destined to be a fantasy classic. Johansen’s writing is assured, confident and thrilling. I can’t wait for the next book.”
The Queen of the Tearling tells the mesmerizing and enveloping story of an exiled princess who has to reclaim her throne while fighting back against the neighboring kingdom’s menacing Red Queen.”
Helene Wecker
“Erika Johansen bursts onto the fantasy scene with a page-turner full of adventure, sorcery, swords, and politics — not to mention a clever heroine with guts and conviction to spare. The Queen of the Tearling kept me up way past my bedtime, and left me wanting more!”
Kirkus Reviews
Chick lit meets swords and sorcery in the perfect commodity for a hot demographic.But is it art? Debut novelist Johansen turns in a fantasy novel that’s derivative of Tolkien, as so many books in the genre are—it’s got its merry band of warriors, its struggle for a throne that has a long and tangled history, its battle for good and evil. That this novel just happens to have commanded a huge advance and a movie deal, with Emma Watson attached at this writing to play the heroine, Kelsea, is incidental to the tale, which, schematized, would be pretty by-the-numbers. As a worldbuilding exercise, it has many deficiencies: While the story is set in the not-too-distant future, its trappings are medieval and not, as inA Canticle for Leibowitz, because of an intervening apocalypse; it’s a churchy and mystical sort of place, but the heroine has a command of Mendelian genetics (“Red hair was a recessive gene, and in the three centuries since the Crossing, it had bred slowly and steadily out of the population”). But, continuity errors and improbabilities aside—when hiding from a deadly enemy, for instance, a troop of royal guards isn’t really likely to get drunk, sing loud songs and keep the orcs awake all night—Johansen adds value to the tale with well-crafted sentences that sometimes build into exuberant paragraphs: “The queenship she’d inherited, problematic enough in the abstract, now appeared insurmountable. But of course, she had already known the road would be difficult. Carlin had told her so obliquely, through years spent studying the troubled nations and kingdoms of the past.” On the plus side, too, is Johansen’s wise choice to make the heroine a plain-ish Jane who learns on the go, discovering her inner resources as she emerges from adolescence into adulthood. And applause, too, for some nicely gory closing moments.A middling Middle Earth–ian yarn, then, that seems destined to be the next big thing among theGame of Thronesset.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Queen of the Tearling Series , #1
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1 MB

Meet the Author

Erika Johansen grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. She went to Swarthmore College, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and eventually became an attorney, but she never stopped writing.

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The Queen of the Tearling 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 96 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an entertaining book for a first time author. However, she really eviscerated anyone over 40 in this book, leading me to believe she is a young author. She had a scene that was particularly mean, describing an "ancient woman" in her forties. A few plot holes. Not a lot of insight into how this post-apocalyptic country came to be. Very graphic descriptions of sex, so don't let young girls read this. The heroine is supposed to be similar to Queen Elizabeth. I will buy the second book for entertainment, but all the hype of promotion of this book seemed a bit excessive.
irishclaireKG More than 1 year ago
Well, This is Really Closer to Two and a Half Stars ...but I'll round it up to three for the beautiful, old-fashioned cover complete with a lovely silken bookmark. As for the rest? It's a mishmash of 'stuff' which utterly contradicts itself and falls into illogic a great deal of the time. If that does not bother you, then it is an enjoyable but slight book. Expect to find plot devices from 'Hunger Games' (even the term 'tribute' is used), 'Game of Thrones,' Harry Potter (there's a direct acknowledgement of the 'Rowling collection' as part of preserved books), 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (watch out for Ark of the Covenant zapping accessories), 'Mean Girls' ('Fetch', really??) and many others. What really irked, me, however, is the chaotic backstory. The convoluted history of The Tearling (and this whole world) is never clearly explained--we are never sure where this all takes place (defunct America? Europe?), what really happened with the Crossing and why (it actually sounds like the Pilgrims coming to the New World)...all the action takes place in a decidedly medieval setting complete with armor, castles, serfdom, 12th century weapons...fear of witches and magic...there is no real medicine yet there are references to antibiotics, transplants, and contraception...there are no longer books but knowledge of print's a total jumble. Kelsea is schooled as a queen but most of personal and political history has been kept from her: what's the point of a largely clueless queen?! But she trudges on displaying gross shallowness one minute (wondering why ugly people have the audacity to wish being pretty) then in the next paragraph displaying wisdom beyond all others. There is the predictable crush on the Bad Boy (shades of Robin Hood there) impression was that this had no clue what it was supposed to be. It's a trilogy so are we going to get ALL these answers in other books? We needed a whole lot of them for this book. Emma Watson is evidently going to do the movie--hope it's more cohesive than this. It's not a terrible book--it's just sort of all over the place.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an over-hyped mess of a book.  I wanted to like The Queen of the Tearling, but I would have had to suspend a desire for decent world building, basic character development and a plot that made sense.  Here are just a few of the overwhelming problems with this story. In many ways The Queen of Tearling is poorly derivative of the Girl of Fire and Thorns series by Rea Carson. QotT is written in the most simple and (very) Young Adult style, except for rape references, pedophilia, and gratuitous torture—all of which seem to be thrown in for no apparent reason and are jarring juxtaposed against the juvenile style.  The heroine, Kelsea, is obsessed with everyone’s looks, especially her own.  (As an aside, I found it peculiar and inexplicable that if a female was depicted as attractive she was a victim of abuse, a whore, or evil—no other options). It’s stressed over and over how plain and overweight she is, which could have been interesting in the hands of an author who understands human nature.  Kelsea has very cringe-inducing notions about how to behave—for instance, after an assassination attempt; her group of guards (men she’s only known for a week or so) glimpses her nude body before she grabs a towel.  But Kelsea is annoyed with herself for this perceived “vanity” and later tends to have a pathetic need to get naked in front of these hapless men to prove she’s not vain.  Seriously, in Kelsea’s mind it’s “vain” to keep your clothes on in front of a bunch of strangers old enough to be her father.    The dialogue is awful.  Kelsea either repeats whatever someone just said, or if her silly ideas of what to do are challenged, she says something like, “I think you can figure it out.”  Really. Most of the time when Kelsea spoke, I was hoping someone would finally tell her to shut up and learn something about life first. Kelsea also falls instantly in puppy-love with a serious creep who humiliated and threatened to kill her—and the only reason given is because he’s hot.  Really. These Queen’s Guards, who are supposed to be the best of the best badasses are lame.  While escorting Kelsea through dangerous lands, they get drunk and loud at night when there is the constant threat of ambush.  When they are presented with clear proof that there is a traitor in their midst, the leader, Mace, only throws a fit.  In fact Mace, who for some reason everyone fears, is constantly bragging about how he knows things and is never wrong—yet he’s constantly wrong, and constantly fails. There’s an evil queen, who is beautiful of course, which seems to be the only reason she is evil.  And the magic? It is only a plot device—Dues ex machina at its worst.  But the worst thing by far is the preachy and condescending style of the writing.  This author writes as if the idea of helping the poor is her own original idea.  I’ve gone on enough, but there’s so much more that fails the logic test in this over-hyped and unoriginal book. If you're looking for good examples of Fantasy, these authors deliver—Robin Hobb, Sarah J. Maas, Andrew Ryan, and Patrick Rothfuss.
Caosta More than 1 year ago
This book is definitely one of the best science fiction and fantasy books that I have read in years. Intriguing story telling, a blending of old and new. A world of richly designed characters, fascinating plotline, and multiple twist and turns that keep the book interesting and make you not want to put it down. Loved the book from beginning to end, and can't wait to see what will the author write next. I will caution that there is some stronger language, and adult content in the book but for anyone who had read Game of Thrones, or adult who read Tamora Pierce when they were younger. This book is an absolute winner.
ABookishGirlBlog More than 1 year ago
Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is a princess but she is not your average princess. Raised by a couple, Carlin and Barty, while she was in hiding Kelsea is more the girl next door who loves to read then a princess in a castle trying on gowns and then buying them all because she couldn't decide which one she liked best.  It is Kelsea's nineteenth birthday and it is time to go back and ascend her throne where her Uncle currently sits as regent. Unwilling to give up the throne to a teenager Kelsea's Uncle and many others with lots to lose should Kelsea become queen conspire to make sure that the coronation doesn't happen. During this quickened coronation Kelsea is wounded but still gets confirmed showing everyone that she is just not some little girl who can pushed around that even with a knife in her back she will still stand as the queen. Even though Kelsea is now Queen Kelsea the blaggards won't relent and Kelsea and her guards must constantly be on their toes. Adventure abounds in this book as Queen Kelsea fights to stay alive while making drastic changes that while may be better for the Tearling now in the long run it could bring a fearsome enemy to their very doors. Magic can be found in Kelsea's two Tearling sapphire necklaces that when worn gives her a means to protect herself and can they can even show her what is to be. Queen Kelsea of the Tearling has the power to change the lives of the Tearling for the better this is her chance to see herself and the great things that she is capable of. A female heroine that we can all relate to because even though she doubts herself sometimes and is insecure about her looks at the end of the day she does what needs to be done regardless of her self perceived shortcomings. I loved, loved, loved this book, which is the first in a trilogy, and cannot wait to read the remaining books in this series when they come out! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so pleased by this book. The storyline, pacing, chatacter development, and setting are all masterfully put together. I can not recommend this book enough. It truly has everything for everyone, hints at dark edges, and leaves me waiting for me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a sucker for a pretty cover so I read this book. It's a very big set-up for a series and the first book does leaves most questions unresolved. We at least know the printing presses come back since each chapter begins with an excerpt of a book written about the Tearling Queen's reign. I'm glad this is targeted to be made into a movie. Many of the characters seem flat (especially the heroine) and some good acting will bring them to their full potential. And I agree with the reviewer about the book having issues with age. It's difficult to tell if it's just the author's perception of what's 'old' or if time itself is different or if in general lifespans are very short. The red queen is over 100 years, the tearling queen is 19, the guard is "old" and in their 30's/40's? I just worry that one of the men she's crushing on may end up being the father - ew. Another issue I have with the book is it seems to want to be left leaning politically and anti-religious but it doesn't quite make the point. But since these are popular stances with young people these days it makes me feel perhaps the Crossing has something to do with all the icecaps melting in the future due to global warming and survivors establishing new colonies at the poles or wherever land can be found.
pooled_ink 25 days ago
pooled ink Reviews: 4.5 Stars A solid book, definitely. I’d been hearing rustlings from other authors about this book for almost a year before I finally snatched it from the shelves in a bookstore and devoured its tale greedily. I only had the blurb to go off of, a vague sense of gut certainty that I would like this story, and the dregs of a giftcard to pay for it. Somehow it wasn’t what I had expected. It surprised me. This book includes castles, knights, swords, wars, jewels, bloodshed, and brief glimpses of magic alongside startling familiarities such as organ transplants, genetic science, and the like. Everything seems so old and yet so modern creating an overall wholly otherworldly setting. Unexpected, but it works quite nicely. There are things I like and don’t like, characters I embrace or sigh at, moments I hold my breath or roll my eyes at, etcetera. But weirdly enough instead of it making me dislike this book for our differences in opinion, it somehow draws me in because even when I’m not in favor about something in this book it still strikes me as woefully realistic and realism is something I value in books, for the most part anyway. THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING is only the beginning to a captivating fantasy trilogy. One must be stouthearted, open minded, and willing to leap to accompany the Tearling Queen on this dawn of a new age, but rest assured your efforts will be rewarded. A solid tale crafted with cunning, brutality, bravery, and fantasy, The Queen of the Tearling reveals no surprise as to its celebrated precedence in the literary world. Read my FULL review here: P.S. Why does no B&N I visit ever have the rest of the series?? So frustrating.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I'm excited to see what the next book has waiting for Kel.
Anonymous 6 months ago
best book ive read in a long time
Anonymous 8 months ago
Anonymous 8 months ago
Anonymous 8 months ago
An inventive and riveting blend of fantasy and girl power, the Tearling books stand above the rest.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Anonymous 11 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a ride. Had me crying twice. A familiar plot but worth the read. ~*~LEB~*~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Engaging and well-written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very very good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. Despite having absolutely no romance and being someone gruesome in parts it was still a captivating read. I just don't understand why there are so many references to anyone over 35 as old and ugly. I hope there is a point that comes out more clearly in the sequels. Otherwise it just feels biased and rude.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SallyPinkReviews More than 1 year ago
Johansen's writing shines as brilliant as an intricately cut sapphire with her first novel, "The Queen of the Tearling." Set in a futuristic society, the reader discovers a time and place uncharacteristically backward, a feudal society lacking electricity, formal education, and comforts including medical care. Tearling is a country under Mortmesne control, forced to send shipments of slaves to keep the peace between the two countries. It is into the world Kelsea Raleigh is born, heir to the Tearling throne. She's marked by a brilliant sapphire that hangs around her neck and a deep scar burned into her arm. She's raised by foster parents, each given a certain responsibility to impress upon her. The novel opens with the old Queen's guard finding nineteen-year-old Kelsea hidden away. They must escort her to the capital so she can finally assume the position for which she's been so carefully groomed – ruler of the Tearling. The journey is filled with danger despite the loyalty of Kelsea's companions, Mace, Pen, Carroll, and Mhurn. Kelsea confronts several emotions: courage, bravery, hope, fear, loyalty, and the stirrings of love. Her emotions and moods infuse the stone around her neck with a power she has not experienced before. When she arrives in the capital, her first act is to stop the shipment of Tearling slaves to Mortmesne. Now, can Kelsea despite her youth and inexperience, keep her people safe? Johansen effortlessly blends action, adventure and characterization. Her writing style is easy to read and understand, especially in light of the fantasy setting. There's magic, heroes, and villains accompanied by despair, hope, and courage. I simply couldn't put this book down. I needed to know what would happen next to Kelsea. There are a lot of unexpected turns and surprising layers to this wonderfully nuanced story. Consider me on the hunt for the sequel. I would recommend this story for 13-year-old readers and up. This book is thrilling from the first page to the last!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The reason I picked up this book in the first place was because reviews said it was "better than the Hunger Games", so I wanted to see for myself. There is only one small, very small, aspect of the story that could be like the Hunger Games, but other than that the two stories are very different. But I still found "The Queen of the Tearling" just as intriguing and entertaining. The book hasn't received that many good reviews and I can understand why, but I was still able to enjoy reading the book. It honestly passed my expectations of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well-written fantasy or dystopian future (CAN'T BE SURE WHICH) with excellent characters that you want to know more about.