There’s been a fair bit of press about this new fantasy series because Emma Watson (who swore she would never do another franchise again) admitted to “staying up all night” to read it, and has already put herself in the lead role in the upcoming movie. So just months after release, there is already a film adaptation in the pipeline, as well as its own wiki.
I guess the question is – is it worth the hype?
I’m going to say yes. With the popularity of Game of Thrones, audiences are primed for another epic saga full of magic and mystery. But this is also incredibly well done. The characters are well-rounded and the premise interesting. The basics of the well-constructed plot involve Kelsea, the 19-year-old queen of a land called Tearling, who has lived her whole life in hiding. Later we find out this was also a kind of training. Upon reaching her majority, her deceased mother’s loyal Kingsguard come to take her to the capital to take her proper place on the throne. On the way though she discovers some hard truths. Her uncle the regent is trying to kill her to take the throne for himself, and the mother she imagined was so beneficent was a vapid and vain woman who sold her own people into slavery to stop the neighbouring country of Mortmesne from invading.
Instead of being defeated by this knowledge, Kelsea rises above it and shows her mettle. She immediately puts a stop to the slave trade and quickly becomes beloved by the people. But the dangers around her continue to grow and she has to wonder who she can trust.
This is a coming of age story set several hundred years in the future but it’s also impossibly backwards. Several centuries ago the people of the Tearling removed themselves from the modern world, so it is a medieval society with some knowledge of modern customs. While much is new to Kelsea, allowing us to learn with her and share her responses, there is still clearly more to learn in subsequent books, starting with the magical jewel of the Tearling royal line, which appears to have bonded to Kelsea and offers her unknown magic and insight. Then there is also the handsome brigand known only as The Fetch, has won Kelsea’s heart.
I like Kelsea – she’s none of your pretty princess types, but describes herself as mannish and heavy-set. Even The Fetch remarks that she is too plain for his taste. So it is the quality of her character that wins people over. Each chapter begins with a snippet from a history book written some time in the future – one which alludes to the great changes made during Kelsea’s rule. This new fantasy series is definitely one to watch.