Khanh the Killjoy

I deserve a Nobel Prize for this

The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen

Reader beware: Looooooooong rant.

What does [that lady] see when she looks in the mirror? Kelsea wondered. How could a woman who looked so old still place so much importance on being attractive? Kelsea saw now that there was something far worse than being ugly: being ugly and thinking you were beautiful.

Because how DARE anyone ugly have confidence in themselves.

When I die, I want inscribed on my gravestone "She Read The Queen of the Tearling." Call me unambitious, but that shall be counted among my proudest accomplishments, because never have I ever read a more painfully long, worthless book.

The copywriter who wrote this book's summary compares it to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones; they have clearly read neither. They compared to the world-building to that of The Hunger Games. They compared the characters to that of Game of Thrones.

Are you fucking kidding me?

A thousand monkeys typing on a thousand typewriters could write a book that is more similar to those works than anything this book has to offer.

This was also the most intensely painful reading experience I have ever had due to the sheer length of the book, aggravated by the fact that the book just dragged on and on and on without a point. This is the book that doesn't end. A good 30% of the book is devoted to traveling. Not since The Hobbit have I been so fucking bored out of my mind. Bilbo Baggins could have gone there and back again, and then make another round around Middle Earth, and sure, why not---take a few years to flutter around Rivendell chilling with the elves in the time it took this book to go anywhere.

The Summary: Kelsea Raleigh is the new Queen of the Tearling. Her mother, the late Queen Elyssa has died, and it is time for Kelsea to claim the throne. She travels to the new kingdom. She's traveling. She's on a horse. They're slowly making their way to the castle. Slooooooooowly.

Meanwhile, the Red Queen of Mortmesne is wonder where the fuck Kelsea is. She's spent the last 19 years searching for her. Seriously, where the fuck is the girl? Oh, well, the Red Queen will think about that later. Time to fuck some slaves! OH YEAH. GIVE IT TO ME, BABY.

Kelsea's still traveling. Man, her new guards are really, really good looking. Oh, shit, she's kidnapped. But not really, because the kidnappers pretty much let Kelsea wander free.

Oh, whew. She's free. Back to traveling! Whooo! OH YAY, WE'RE AT THE CASTLE. Kelsea makes some fucking stupid decisions and pretty much dooms her country within hours of reaching her new castle.

Meanwhile, Javel, the guard, is telling his story, his sad story of how his wife was lost to him.

Kelsea's throned queen! YAY! She spends a lot of time talking to her advisors. She almost gets killed (several times).

Meanwhile, the priest, Father Tyler, is really, really upset at how his life gets flipped turned upside down.

The Red Queen of Montmesne is fucking more slaves. Where is that dratted Kelsea.

Kelsea thinks she is very plain. She should go on a diet. But no, she shouldn't, because she's plain anyway, and who cares about appearances, anyway. Man, Kelsea wishes she were pretty. As pretty as her maidservant, the one whose beauty is so valued that she got enslaved and raped for it.

Meanwhile, Javel is still doing shit. Talking to people. Getting roped into some random-ass plans.

Father Tyler is still moping around.

The Red Queen's pissed off. That fucking Kelsea. Why does she keep eluding my grasp. And by grasp, the Red Queen means her minion's grasps, since the Red Queen is just too important to do anything about hunting Kelsea herself. Magic, pfft. Ugh, whatever. Let's get ourselves a 7-year old little boy and BLEEP him in the BLEEP BLEEP. That is so not legal.

Javel's still talking somehow.

Kelsea's still talking to people. It sure would be nice if she were pretty. But really, Kelsea doesn't have time to think about that right now. There are more important things at hand. Like insulting a woman in front of the Royal Court.

Fuck, they're traveling AGAIN?!

The end.

765. Mother. Fucking. Pages.

The Setting: IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY MOTHERFUCKING SENSE. I started this book thinking it was a medieval fantasy. It wasn't. It has an old-world feel. It's not. Women are in long dresses. We are riding horses. We're using hawks to hunt. There are kings and queens and magic and castles. What you you mean it's not in the past? What do you mean it's not a fantasy.


I seriously do not fucking understand this setting. First off, it is fucking lazy, because the retelling of the history is told by mouth, AS A STORY.

“Once upon a time, there was a kingdom called the Tearling. It was founded by a man named William Tear, a utopian who dreamed of a land of plenty for all. But ironically, the Tearling was a kingdom of scarce resources, for the British and Americans had not been fortunate in their choice of landing place.

British. American. This is the motherfucking future, people. How the fuck did we get here?

Why are all technologies lost? We supposedly got to this place in an event called The Crossing. Where is this place? Are we even on Earth? Why are there so few survivors? This land is called New Europe. We have a town called New London. Did it actually pop up out of the ocean? Why was the old world destroyed? Why did we have to seek refuge in New Europe? Are we so fucking inconsistent that in all the hundreds of fucking years in which we've settled here that we have lost all the motherfucking techologies of today's time in the future. So much that we don't even have the technology for motherfucking PRINTING PRESSES? We have geneticists. But we don't have the technology to buy books.

And why are books rare? Because we motherfucking burned them for fuel when we got here. Despite the motherfucking forests of oaks that surrounds this new land, they fucking burned BOOKS for fuel.

That was what had happened to most of the books that originally came over in the British-American Crossing: the desperate had burned them for fuel or warmth.

There are no doctors. There are, like, 2 doctors in the whole of fucking New London. New civilizations have come up with technology, they've been so much more innovative than this. The Medieval Ages were more advanced than the Tearling, because they don't know how to fucking make gunpowder or cannons.

Seriously. You expect us to retain absolutely fucking NOTHING of the knowledge that we have gained for all these years? Did you choose the motherfucking dumbest pieces of shits to carry over to the New World? Why didn't you choose important people, like scientists, botanists, doctors, instead of a bunch of fucking feeblewitted morons who don't know how to carry over fucking technology from the old world when you crossed over to the new. Who fucking BURN BOOKS FOR FUEL DESPITE BEING SURROUNDED BY TREES.

Fucking dystopian fail.

The Writing: Not since Charles Dickens have I read such verbosity. There is a reason why this book is so long. It is packed to the brim with the most long-winded, irrelevant description of every fucking thing in the world.

Introspection? Sure. This book has it aplenty. Let's describe every single fucking thought that Kelsea has ever fucking had in her head. Kelsea thinks. A lot. Some relevant things. Mostly very, very, very idiotic things that make no fucking different whether they were omitted or not.

Red hair was a recessive gene, and in the three centuries since the Crossing, it had bred slowly and steadily out of the population. Carlin had told Kelsea that some women, and even some men, liked to dye their hair red, since the rare commodity was always valuable. But after about an hour of sneaking looks at the guard, Kelsea became certain that she was looking at a true head of red hair. No dye was that good.

Her dreams? Kelsea thinks about them. Her opinions about the men? Sure, let's have it. Kelsea's insecurity? Sure, let's have several fucking paragraphs on it. Man, her food just tastes fucking terrible tonight. Let's describe her thoughts on the venison in excruciating detail.

Dinner was venison, stringy and only barely edible after roasting over the fire. The deer must have been very old. Kelsea had seen only a few birds and squirrels on their ride through the Reddick, though the greenery was very lush; there could be no lack of water. Kelsea wanted to ask the men about the lack of animals, but she worried that it would be taken as a complaint about the meal.

Man, it's a motherfucking long journey. After all, the traveling alone takes about 30% of the book. LET'S JUST DESCRIBE EVERY SINGLE FREAKING DETAIL ON IT. The houses are built with bricks. LET'S DESCRIBE THE FUCKING BRICKS IN DETAIL.

To the east, Kelsea spotted what must be the house of a noble: a high tower made of red brick. Real brick! Tearling brick was a notoriously poor building material compared to Mortmesne’s, which was made with better mortar and commanded at least a pound per kilo. Carlin had an oven made of real bricks, built for her by Barty, and Kelsea had wondered more than once whether Barty had bought the bricks off the black market from Mortmesne.

DETAILS! DETAILS! DETAILS! We are fucking drowning in details. The clothes of the noblemen! Let's decribe them! One of the ladies wear a hat in the shape of a fish! Let's mention that. And while we're at it, let's make fun of her for it! WILL IT EVER STOP?!

The Guards: Not since Monty Python and the Holy Grail have there ever been such irreverent, incompetent fucking royal guards. They are the most fucking pathetic examples of soldiers I have ever fucking encountered. This is Kelsea. She is one of the last of her royal line. Her life is priceless. She is supposed to be guarded by 9 men. 9 men who are motherfucking blundering assholes because they cannot do anything right.

While they are traveling, the men get drunk and sing bawdy songs instead of securing her guard. They are completely fucking shocked that later on in the journey, they are captured.

While they are traveling, they are caught AGAIN off their guard. Kelsea is forced to flee for her life.

At the castle, while they are supposed to be watching her back. Kelsea gets stabbed---in the back.

...a bolt of pain arrowed all the way down to her toes.
Stabbed, she thought, dazed. Mace didn’t cover my back after all.

Later on, in the bath, Kelsea gets cornered by an assassin! She's almost fucking killed again.


Guards?! Guards?! They are supposed to be subservient. They are supposed to be respectful. They are supposed to be odebient. They are not supposed to talk back to her. Oh, sure, they SAY they're not going to talk back to her.

He stared at her without expression. “I say nothing, Lady. That’s why I’m a Queen’s Guard.”

But words mean fucking nothing. Because whatever Mace (real name Lazarus, head of Kelsea's guard) is, it's not fucking subservient. He talks down to her, as if she were an incompetent little girl (well, she is, but she is still the fucking queen). He talks back to her. He disagrees with her. When she's gravely injured, Mace nudges her by poking at her with his foot. Is this the behavior of a guard towards his queen? I don't think so.

Mace’s boot landed in the small of her back, and Kelsea bit her tongue against a scream.

Kelsea: Incompetent nitwit. A heroine who is so astoundingly stupid and unprepared by her fucking mentors that she is unworthy of governing anything but a toy kingdom made of Legos.

I hope Kelsea steps on the pieces. I hope they hurt badly. I hope our aspiring queen is in pain for the torment and the headache and the hangover I experienced while reading this book about one of the most insipid heroine to ever litter the precious pages of a book.

She constantly complains about how plain she is.

But her face was as round and ruddy as a tomato, and—there was no other word for it—plain.

She has the most fucking idiotic thoughts about everything and everything. No subject is too minor for her notice. The rug? Oh, it's probably made of deer hide. Spare me.

She is not a fucking queen. Her guardians are incompetent, because she has been so completely fucking sheltered from the world that she doesn't understand anything, but she still knows things. Somehow. She has never seen alcohol, yet she knows what alcohol smells like. She knows what alcoholism looks like when she sees it in a man. And she revels in being drunk, cause it's just like in a book, y'all!

Kelsea woke with an aching head and a parched mouth, but it wasn’t until breakfast that she realized it was her first hangover. Despite the discomfort, she was charmed to experience something that she’d only read about in a book. An upset stomach was a small price to pay for fiction made real.

She cares SO MUCH for the fate of her people. Kelsea is so incredibly hurt that her people are being sent as slaves to Mortmesne---250 a month---that she is willing to renege on the treaty between their countries. Within hours of her arrival to the capital, Kelsea makes a heroic gesture that completely endangers the peace of two nations. She stops the shipment of slaves. She was warned. She didn't listen. She risks the lives of the entire nation for the sake of a few.

“Lady, the Mort Treaty is specific. There is no appeals process, no outside arbiter. If a single shipment fails to arrive in Demesne on time, the Mort Queen has the right to invade this country and wreak terror. I lived through the last Mort invasion, Lady, and I assure you, Mhurn wasn’t exaggerating the carnage. Before you take action, consider the consequences.”

Despite being plain, Kelsea is terribly judgmental of looks. She criticizes an old, ugly woman for daring to look beautiful. She is envious of another woman's beauty, despite the fact that that woman's beauty got her raped.

Kelsea complains a lot about the extravagances at court. The pointless waste of money. So much that she is willing to waste her valuable men's time and her own resources into traveling 2 weeks to get her books from her old home. And right away. It must be done right away.

The Fetch: A criminal. The projected love interest. A Robin Hood? Not quite. You see, Robin Hood steals from the rich and actually DISTRIBUTES it to the poor. The Fetch? Nah.

“Well, he’s a hero to the common people, Lady. Every piece of rich man’s fortune lost endears him to the poor.”
“Does he distribute the money to the poor?”
“No, Lady.”

So, um. Exactly HOW is he the hero of the common people?

Naturally, she should turn him in. Kelsea is the queen, she should set an example to her people. Put criminals where they belong.

Or not.

Kelsea took a deep breath. “I wouldn’t betray him for any number of pounds.”
“Ah, Christ.”

Emma, Emma Watson. I heard that you have signed up for this project. I adore you. You are brilliant. You are gorgeous. You are a goddess, and you have won my heart ever since you stepped onto the screens of Harry Potter, with your disapproving frown and your frizzy hair, far more beautiful than Hermione Watson could ever be. But I adored you then, I love you now, and I hope for your sake that the movie adaptation exceeds every aspect of the book, because the book itself has almost no substance to offer.

I can't even hate this book because it tries so hard. It is the equivalent of having your 6-year old niece draw a picture of you. Sure, you look like a motherfucking moose with butterfly wings for some fucking reason, but hey, it's an A for effort, right?

Quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley proof subject to change in the final edition.