Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Review of the Tearling: A Review of The Tearling Series

The Tearling series is a trilogy by Erika Johansen. The three books are The Queen of the Tearling, The Invasion of the Tearling, and The Fate of the Tearling. Our main character, Kelsea Glynn, is the eponymous Queen, taking the throne of a monachy called the Tearling. The country was started when people crossed the sea in order to find a new life, as society in our future world began to collapse. This gives us a world without advance technology, but with knowledge about our cultures, civilisations and history. It reads like a fantasy set in the future.

The first book has to set the scene and introduce us to the characters. Kelsea is headstrong and flighty, not always good at following advice. She makes some questionable decisions over the books, and not all of them pay off. She is good at heart, but not always nice. The POV doesn't always remain with Kelsea, but she does get more focus then anyone else. It shows how ordinary people go about their day-to-day lives, something I liked, as it makes the world feel more real.

In Invasion, Kelsea starts having visions of life in America just before the crossing, showing us exactly how screwed up the world was. These chapters, from the point of view of a woman called Lily Mayhew are some of the most interesting in the book. Since they do answer many questions of how and why so many people left their home, I suggest that people who possibly didn't like Queen give Invasion a try. I have to put a warning here that there is a graphic rape scene in Invasion, but it's as acceptable as a scene like that ever is. The character going through the rape is treated with respect, and it is never excused or justified during the rest of the book.

In Fate, we get another new viewpoint, from a girl called Katie, just after the Crossing. It shows how the better world dreamed of by William Tear started to fall apart. This book, more then the rest, starts to show the lines between good and evil are not so clear. Mortmesne is not the nightmare place we were told. Tear may have had good intentions, but his utopian ideal struggles in practice. Mace, who always seems a dutiful guard, has some darker portions in his past. I would actually say that no character in the series is wholly good or bad.

One of my favourite things about this series is that it glorifies reading. During the Crossing, William Tear allowed people to take ten books apiece. In the intervening years, many fell apart over time. There is no printing press in the Tearling, and many of the population in Kelsea's time are illiterate. Kelsea's guardians had a huge collection of books, and one of the first thing she does is try to create more books.

Religion plays a role, but the only one that seems to have survived from pre-Crossing is Christianity, though a little changed from it's current form. You have to wonder what happened to other major religions. It's treated with nuance - there are good priests and bad priests, just as there are good and bad characters in any circumstance in the book.

This series more then any other I can remember has suffered from comparison disorder. There are a lot of views out their that compare this series to either The Hunger Games, or Game of Thrones. If you go into this series expecting it to be like either of those two, you will be disappointed, because it is not those series. However, if you go into this series with an open mind, expecting it to be it's own thing, then you might find something you like.

These books don't waste any time reminding you of the events of the previous book, or who-is-who. If you pick up the sequels after a while, you might want to reread the first book, too. These books seem long, but they read fast. I really enjoyed this series, personally. I would recommend this series to fans of fantasy or sci-fi who enjoy a good story but don't mind a slightly implausible world.

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