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The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)
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June, 2016: Fantasy > The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen - 1*

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Elise (ellinou) | 525 comments Kelsea Raleigh is the heir apparent to the throne of the Tearling. Her mom was killed/died (unclear about that) when she was 1, so she was raised in complete seclusion in the woods because everyone and their grandmother wants to kill her. Until her 19th birthday, when a gang of guards come to get her so she can claim her throne, and take it from her uncle, the evil and stupid Regent who has been governing for the past 18 years, made deals with the evil queen from the neighbouring kingdom and was the guy trying the hardest to get her killed. She walks into a rotten kingdom full of problems and starts fixing them, literally as soon as she sets foot on the grounds of the castle.

Yes, I just described the book I read, and not the final project of every other student in a bad “Epic Fantasy 101” class.

I used to be a huge fan of fantasy, but after Harry Potter and The Castings Trilogy by Pamela Freeman, I couldn’t find anything that interested me remotely as much as those two series had, so I sort of gave up on the genre. But recently I found a list of 10 books recommended to adult fans of HP (some of them fantasy, some not at all), so I figured, why not, I might be surprised.

I was not. Not even once. I kept waiting to be blindsided, kept thinking it was too easy to predict to be the actual story. But in vain. It was a compilation of all the clichés of the genre (down to the evil queen being named the Red Queen–honestly, why are evil fantasy queens never pink or green or yellow?); all the “twists” I saw coming a mile off; every time there was a problem, Mary-Sue Kelsea came sweeping in with her magic jewels to fix everything.

But apart from that, the thing that really irritated me (and warranted my giving it only 1 star, which I do to books that outright piss me off and not those I merely did not enjoy) is its portrayal of women. I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, but I’ve been more sensible lately to the treatment of female characters in fantasy novels (probably because I’ve read a few good stories, so now I notice the bad ones), and for all this one’s apparent attempt to have a bad-ass female character - queen, powerful, smart, just, fair, strong, Mary-Sue -, all the other women in the book are servants, slaves, whores, victims of some kind or other, or the evil queen. All the guards are men, all the soldiers are men, all the important people in the queen’s court are men. I’ve come to expect this sort of thing from GRR Martin (full disclosure: I’ve rarely hated anything as much as I hate his ASoIaF series–which I’ve read in its entirety), but from a female author, I would have expected at least an attempt to sidestep this particular habit of the genre.

Also, women are never introduced without some mention of their physical appearance. We are bashed over the head with the fact that Kelsea is plain, and so she compares herself constantly to all the other women she sees. Also, apparently there’s a movie in the works, and Kelsea is going to be played by Emma Watson, who is anything but plain, so... Lol.

So yeah. I had high hopes when I started this book, and they were all violently dashed by page 200. I will not be reading the rest of the series.

tl;dr: I did not like this book. At all.


message 2: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6432 comments Oh my gosh, this book sounds absolutely awful, but your review . . .your review is FANTASTIC. Funny, insightful, love it . . .

I don't consider myself a particularly rabid feminist by any means, but I do notice when books take a particularly disparaging view of women (whether intentionally or not, ahem, Twilight), and I find it tough to swallow.

Truly though - - great review.


Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments Very entertaining review. I also read this book and have to say I enjoyed it more than you. I know where you are coming from, however, as I also grew tired of fantasy at some point. I am less critical of Tearling's flaws because I attribute them to the YA classification and they are part of what I consider the overall weakness of the genre.

And it's worse than just having a plain heroine - Kelsea is also plump and we get to share her angst.


message 4: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6432 comments ok, now I am laughing some more Denizen. I feel bad when people read a one star book, but seriously the reviews are awesome.


message 5: by annapi (new)

annapi | 4977 comments A plump Emma Watson? How are they going to to that? Probably NOT.


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