Blurb from Goodreads:
In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.
And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies – chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.
To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable – naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.
So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea – and the Tearling itself – will be revealed…
With The Fate of the Tearling, Erika Johansen draws her unforgettable story full of magic and adventure to a thrilling close.
Tell me there’s going to be a book four! No? Well, drats! I’ll just go and drown myself in tears then. Considering how much I disliked the first book of this series, I never thought I’d get so invested in its world and its characters. This book in one word? Irresistible! How can I put it down when it’s spilling all the answers I’ve been dying to know? Spilling it in a riveting way, if I may add. Because there were lots of unexpected cards played in this stunning conclusion to this trilogy. And then everything just interlaced beautifully with each other and connects with a perfect fit.
The Fate of the Tearling definitely outshined the first two books. It was just… more. More growth, more intense action, more problems to deal with. What I enjoyed the most about the whole thing is getting more answers about Tearling’s early history and seeing how it gradually started to move away from William Tear’s ideal of peace. And of course there’s the revelations about the characters I’m most curious about—Row and the Fetch. I’ve had my eyes on the Fetch since the first book so imagine my excitement when this one opened up with his POV. Even if I wasn’t so curious about the Fetch, I think, his would still be the perfect POV to start this story with. That’s because the mystery that surrounds him has a way of reeling readers in.
Rebellion and revolt. No ruler had ever held such things down for long, not by force.
The characters—and I mean every single one of them—are all worth spending time with. Although there’s nearly a dozen of characters for Johansen to tie up, it didn’t interrupt the storyline. And when she inserts characters into her stories, you can expect that those characters weren’t there to just add to the drama. Expect them to fully develop as you go along because no character is ignored in Johansen’s world. They all get a portion of her attention—even the minor characters like Javel, Ewen, and Aisa—meaning they all have their important roles to play and they have their own bags of surprises to carry.
There’s also more growth to Kelsea’s character in this book. We saw her regretting the things she’d done in haste in the past. And more importantly we saw her trying to learn from those mistakes so it doesn’t happen again. There’s a lot of serious surprises thrown in Kelsea’s path throughout the book including the truth about her parents and I think she handled them maturely.
The mistake of utopia is to assume that all will be perfect. Perfection may be the definition, but we are human, and even into utopia we bring our own pain, error, jealousy, grief. We cannot relinquish our faults, even in the hope of paradise, so to plan a new society without taking human nature into account is to doom that society to failure.
The story also follows the lives of the first generation of children born after the Crossing—Katie, Gavin, and Row—as Kelsea continues to see into the past. And boy, was it riveting! We finally get to see the things that leads to Jonathan Tear’s assassination and the beginning of the downfall of William Tear’s utopia. I love how seamlessly the story transitioned from the present to the past and back again. Apparently Johansen has a knack for making these things happen.
These people are so damned proud of their hatred! Hatred is easy, and lazy to boot. It’s love that demands effort, love that exacts a price from each of us.
There’s so much going on with this book but romance isn’t one of them. Which is fine by me. Everywhere you look there’s an enemy just waiting for an opportunity to pounce so there’s really no room for kissing and cuddling for Kelsea. With how things ended in The Invasion of the Tearling I was expecting quite a showdown between Kelsea and the Red Queen in this book. It was rather surprising to see them form some kind of unofficial and unspoken alliance instead. It was good to see a softer, more human side of the Red Queen though. But the Red Queen wasn’t Kelsea’s only enemy. There’s Brenna, who is determined to take revenge for what Kelsea did to Thorne. There’s Anders and the Arvath who had long wanted to see Kelsea dethroned because she’s a non-believer of the church. And lastly, there’s the Rowland Finn and his terrifying horde of blood-sucking children ready to tear the whole of Tearling apart.
Hell? Hell is a fairy tale for the gullible, for what punishment could be worse than that we inflict upon ourselves? We burn so badly in this life that there can be nothing left.
While this book did a spectacular job answering all the questions I’ve had since book one, I noticed that it raised some more questions too and a few of them were left dangling as the series ended. Jonathan Tear still has to die in the end. Why? There was no explanation at all! Which kind of made me so mad. Because… why? There were also some ideas that the author just seem to forget about, like Katie’s sapphire that magically came into Kelsea’s possession. Where did that sapphire go? What was it’s purpose in the story?
I still have conflicted feelings about the way this ends. Given everything that’s been going on, I wasn’t expecting this to end without spilling blood all over the Tearling but somehow it did! To me it looks like the ending just threw everything that happened from the first and second book out the window. It’s a lazy way out. Normally I would feel dissatisfied with this kind of sloppiness, rant a little, and take down a star from my rating. But not in this case. Because there’s a strange part of me that actually loved it! Easy fix or not, that ending made me feel… sad! For hours! I just felt so sorry for Kelsea because she deserves to have a happy ending like everyone else. Instead she ended up feeling alone, just like when she was in Barty’s and Carlin’s cottage.
This book wasn’t perfect but it’s nearly there. I base my rating on the emotions it left me—alone and wanting. Only a few books ever lingered in my thoughts after I’m done reading it and this is one of those. So I decided to give this my five unshakeable stars despite the flaws. I think this is a good series to bury your nose into if you’re up for some intense fighting to raise your bloodlust. Or if you want something with a totally unique world-building, and fierce characters, and an interesting magic system, this series might be right up your alley.