This book was an instant buy for me as soon as I heard of its existence. Being a huge fan of Emma Watson who apparently couldn’t put it down, I simply had to give it a go. Despite it being a very new release, a film adaptation is already confirmed with Emma as the star and Harry Potter producer David Heyman in the director’s chair. Having read it, I’m positive that it will be a blockbuster not to be missed.
Set in the 24th century, the story follows Kelsea, the heiress to the throne of the Tearling, who has been raised in a woodland cottage by her foster parents after the death of her mother Queen Elyssa. On the evening of her nineteenth birthday, the remainder of the Queen’s Guard arrive to take Kelsea back to the Keep where she will rule as queen. For the last eighteen years, the Tearling has been ruled by her uncle, the Regent who is controlled by the evil Red Queen of neighbouring kingdom Mortmesne. Protected by the Mace and an army of men who were fiercely loyal to her mother, Kelsea embarks on the journey to rescue her kingdom from the tyranny that it’s under while dodging the forces that are out to kill her.
Kelsea is a wonderfully funny and endearing protagonist. Johansen has created a heroine that is strong-willed, down-to-earth and extremely easy to relate to. She isn’t the typical beautiful princess, as she is repeatedly described as plain and overweight and her attitude is indeed far from queenly. She is constantly being told how different she is to her mother who was spectacularly vain and stupid. Kelsea’s love of books and knowledge stems from her childhood in the woods and it’s this upbringing that no doubt gives her the humble personality that so astounds her Guard on first meeting her. Her naivety is countered by her growing maturity throughout the book as she learns more about the situation she has been born into and what she can do to rectify it.
Although the book is supposedly set in the very distant future, it has an overwhelming medieval theme running through it. There doesn’t appear to be any technology or futuristic elements but the mention of doctors and such remind us that this isn’t the medieval time that we know of. The idea that the 24th century will actually be very much like the 15th and 16th is incredibly original and interesting to consider. What implications would that have and what happened to cause the world to reverse so dramatically? There is the feeling that some sort of apocalypse or global revolution occurred and there are brief mentions of the time before but the reader is left to come to their own conclusions about that, opening it up to multiple interpretations.
Scattered with smile-inducing one-liners, a fast-paced fantasy plot and a main character going through both the physical journey to her throne and the emotional journey of growing up, The Queen Of The Tearling is a must read for Game Of Thrones fans, particularly female ones. Like George RR Martin’s epic series, there is plenty of debauchery and threat but with much more likeable characters and an undeniable feminist slant. I’d love to see more kick-ass female protagonists in fantasy series and Kelsea more than satisfies that. I’m very much ready for the sequel already!