Title: The Fate of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Release Date: November 29, 2016
The summary may contain spoilers for the previous novels in the Queen of the Tearling series. However, the review is of the entire series and contains no spoilers for the books.
It’s finally happened: the dreaded Red Queen has sent her armies to invade the Tearling. Queen Kelsea knows that her people don’t have a chance of defending themselves militarily; that’s why she gave herself up to the Red Queen’s forces, sacrificing herself to save her people. But things don’t go quite as Kelsea expects; she doesn’t expect her rival to be so human, so tormented, and the things she discovers disturb her. Will Kelsea be able to save the Tearling, once and for all, or will she succumb to the power of the Red Queen?
I have a lot of feelings about the Tearling series. That’s not the most professional or objective way to begin a review, for sure, but it’s difficult for me to separate how I feel about the series from what I think about it; they’re intertwined. For example, in my head, I know that this series has serious flaws. It has plot holes, character issues, and storytelling problems, just to start. And yet, I don’t really care. I won’t hesitate to wholeheartedly recommend this series to everyone. My reaction to it is emotional, rather than what’s in my head, and I’m okay with that.
The main reason I love this series so much is because of Kelsea herself. Specifically, she is angry, and for good reason. She’s been deceived and lied to her entire life. She’s expected to save her people without knowing her history, with incomplete information, which is virtually impossible. Indeed, the bulk of this novel focuses on how our pasts influence our present. The evils we face today often have their roots in the actions of those who came before us.
The Fate of the Tearling focuses more on The Red Queen of Mortmesne than I expected, to its credit. It fleshed out the villain that has loomed over the entire trilogy. She becomes more than just an evil and malicious presence. Johansen never lets the reader forget that she has done horrible things in her quest for power, and is irredeemable as a queen, but a person? Who was she before she was the Mort queen, before her thirst for power because insatiable? It’s a very interesting character exploration.
I reread the first two novels in the Tearling trilogy before diving into The Fate of the Tearling, and it was a good decision. This book ties back so much to what came before, especially in The Invasion of the Tearling, and it’s worth refreshing your memory before delving into this novel. I’m not going to say a lot about how Johansen wraps up the series, except to say that while I’m not sure I loved her decisions, I do appreciate how daring, creative, and brave it was. Indeed, that’s a great summation of the entire trilogy—it’s not perfect, but in the end, it was great.