The most recent and final episode of Erika Johansen’s ‘Queen of the Tearling ‘trilogy, The Fate of the Tearling, has finally arrived, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. In the final chapter of this engaging trilogy, Kelsea Glynn, Erika Johansen’s teenage heroine (who will make you forget all about Katniss Everdeen and that other adolescent protagonist from the Divergent series) whom we first met in Johansen’s two previous books, The Queen of the Tearling and The Invasion of The Tearling, is not only at last a full-fledged sovereign, but has also developed strange powers and acquired a powerful sapphire necklace, neither of which she can even begin to comprehend.
When we first met Kelsea Glynn in The Queen of the Tearling she was an insecure teenager who is suddenly named Queen of the Land of the Tearling after the rather unexplained death of her estranged mother. Raised far away from court by two people close to the deceased Queen for Kelsey’s own protection, she is suddenly thrown into a world of court intrigues and assassination attempts on her person. Simultaneously she battles the very real threat of the deadly Red Queen, whose real identity is a mystery, but it’s no secret that she wants Kelsea dead. By the end of The Queen of the Tearling, Kelsea Glynn is on her way to becoming the regent that her people and all of Tearling need her to be.
Johansen’s narrative is absolutely enticing, and it’s no less captivating in the second novel, The Invasion of the Tearling. Here, Kelsea not only begins to morph from teenager to woman and fully-formed sovereign, but the Tearling is under the savage attack of the Red Queen and her conspirators. Additionally, Kelsea must also battle with powerful visions who begin to plague her about an unknown woman named Lily who lived in the era known as “pre-crossing.” While Kelsea doesn’t know for certain who Lily is, she is sure that this woman holds the key to the future of the Tearling.
Now in The Fate of the Tearling, and most decidedly no longer a lanky and awkward teenager, Kelsea knows that as Queen of the Tearling she has a heavy responsibility on her shoulders, and it is up to her to stop the advance of the Red Queen upon her realm. But Kelsea becomes a prisoner of her deadly enemy, and the chances of securing the safety of her people and her own, begin to grow slimmer.
While incarcerated, she is manhandled and beaten by the Red Queen’s cohorts, while also threatened with rape and abuse by her jailer. But Johansen created no ninny with Kelsea Glynn, and the young queen responds in kind:
“Hands”, the man demanded putting the torch in its holder. Kelsea held them out and allowed him to place manacles around her wrists.
“Pretty does not move quickly enough.”
“Perhaps not”, Kelsea replied. “But before pretty leaves this dungeon, she is going to deal with you. Know that for a certainty.”
The man looked up, startled. “Nonsense. She is only a prisoner.”
“No. She is a queen.”
“Yes.” The man locking her manacles and ran his palm over her hair. There were certainly worse places he could have chosen to touch, but the possessiveness in the gesture made Kelsea’s skin crawl. “My very own queen.”
She rolled her eyes, sickened. “Christ, let’s go.”
“Women shouldn’t curse.”
This exchange with her lecherous jailer, cements Kelsea’s transformation into a woman who is unafraid to fight and die for the Tearling and for her people. Kelsea’s transformation into an Elizabeth I warrior queen of sorts is complete, but the danger surrounding her and the Tearling increase even further.
She continues to have visions of the Tearling’s past, not only of Lily but also important people who took part in the “crossing” which include William, the mysterious man who founded the new world that bears his name. As Kelsea fights to survive within the grasp of the Red Queen, her faithful right hand nicknamed the Mace and a handful of loyal subjects and servants, likewise struggle to set Kelsea free while battling the Red Queen’s forces and her black magic, further cementing an alliance with an evil force. But Kelsea has powerful allies of her own, that give her the final reach of strength that she needs to possibly defeat her enemies.
In the end Johansen brings this trilogy to an unforeseen and completely unexpected conclusion. Whether it was the best ending is certainly debatable, but what is undeniable is that the journey to the Tearling’s past and Kelsea’s final stand as queen of a land that she seeks remain free, is an astounding one and completely worth the read.