Pre-note: Before reading this book, you should definitely plan on reading The Invasion of the Tearling and The Queen of the Tearling. If you read this review, be forewarned about potential spoilers pertaining to the first books, but I’ll keep it to a minimum.
I have been waiting for Fate of the Tearling for probably close to a year now. The publication book was originally delayed by about 4-6 months because Erika Johansen wasn’t ready to publish. Fortunately, I thought that the book was pretty amazing and the wait was really worth it.
To summarize, The Red Queen had her army invade the Tearling in the previous book. That ended disastrously for our main heroine, Kelsea, even though the Red Queen’s army retreated… With Kelsea in tow as a captive. Through a process of events where Kelsea was getting know know the Red Queen as a more human (but still pretty terrible) person, she got free and went to save her people. She’s also having these flashback and learning how the past can help her save the future…
I don’t know if I noticed this in earlier novels, but there were at least two “graphic” sex scenes in The Fate of the Tearling. I’m in no way offended by sex, but I was kind of thrown by the aggressiveness of one of the scenes. I think my problem with it was that it was clearly set up to confuse which one of these men were Kelsea’s ancestors, but the one guy was just a not-awesome person who might have had a few good points early on but did really terrible things to get it across. When it happened, it was in the midst of a fight between the two characters, and I couldn’t help but think that if I was talking to a young impressionable girl, I would want her to know that having sex with someone won’t make a problem go away, and maybe that is why I felt a little uncomfortable about it. It wasn’t the scene’s existence, it’s that I couldn’t stop thinking that it wasn’t fixing anything. At least it focused on the women instead of the men; being a female-character centric novel, I would have expected no less.
This is another thing that wasn’t super evident early on. The “old” world, where we currently live, had pretty well devolved into total chaos. It wasn’t awesome in, which is why people in Erika Johansens novel universe sailed away to an island in what I gather is another parallel sort of world. I imagine it is kind of like Australia. It felt like Erika Johansen was trying to made a symbolic point about how political extremes and ideologies aren’t necessarily effective. In her view, communism wouldn’t work people wouldn’t feel valued or important, even if they were working hard and some people (one particular family in this case) tend to hold more power in order to govern or whatever, which we learn here is a bit of a problem because it contradicts the total equality. But also, in this story we learn that monarchy doesn’t work either and neither does our current system I guess? Social inequalities exist in those systems and doing a total 180 doesn’t work. I’m in no way trying to get political; I know what I observe and by no means think I have the unbiased political expertise needed to determine what the best system is, or if we even have an ideology that matches what would truly work for us. Also note that my use of “ideology” is pretty academic and includes liberal, conservative, communist, capitalist, etc. ideas. And maybe that’s the point I think Erika Johansen was trying to convey; there are all social problems, and so far communism (when practiced, not on paper) hasn’t really eradicted them, but neither has anything else (monarchy, democracy, etc.) and we don’t know what will finally click, and maybe definable ideologies aren’t the “way to go”, and we’re just trying to figure it out as we go and some things (such as solialism – think universal health care, access to education) have gone a long way to improving things. In the end of the book, they were able to find a nice balance where there were only slight differences in social equality and everyone was living full lives without and major socioeconomic strife. It’s kind of optimistic in that “someday things will work out and we don’t have to go generations for that to happen, it can be now if we just change somethings” sort of a way. Who knows, it’s beautiful to think that no one will suffer, and I can certainly try to do my part, even if politics isn’t my personal sphere in which to solve it.
I think just because she conveyed something so massive without it being a really tedious academic subject, I like Fate of the Tearling even more. It’s something that I think can be really thought provoking topic.
Title: Fate of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publication: November 29, 2016
Page count: 496