With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.
But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.
For all my criticisms, this was bloody brilliant.
The Invasion of the Tearling, or In Which Queen Kelsea Gives Zero Fucks, was superbly entertaining and compelling despite my criticisms of the series. I finished the book in two days and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Many people, myself included, had issues with the worldbuilding, namely the modern world going post-apocalyptic and then transitioning into a medieval type fantasy world with horses and magic just didn’t sit right – so many plausibility issues, and dystopia and fantasy don’t mesh particularly well together. That said, I can give points for originality, and I got over that aspect for the sequel.
The pre and post-Crossing world is brought to the forefront of the novel, as several chapters are dedicated to the perspective of Lily, a seemingly insignificant woman living at the end of the pre-crossing era, just before the world goes to hell in a handbasket. Her chapters do feel a little jarring, as they deal with her life in a recognizably modern world.
Readers should be aware that there are either descriptions or mentions of rape, sexual assault and abuse. As uncomfortable as they were, they didn’t feel gratuitous to me – men in positions of power who know they won’t face consequences for their actions, coupled with a lack of structure and law, make for a dangerous world for women, whatever era they may be in.
This installment essentially focuses on the impending invasion of the Tearling army after Kelsea stopped the slave shipments in the previous book. Her forces are greatly outnumbered, there is dissent amongst some of her citizens, especially the Church and the nobility, and overall there is a growing sense of doom and inevitability.
I like that Kelsea isn’t a likeable character – as I mentioned in the beginning of the review, she gives zero fucks in this book – with impending war, she has to make some ruthless decisions – she’s not an overly friendly or sweet-natured person, but she gets things done and generally tries to do what’s right. (With some notable exceptions.)
One thing that does irk me is the whole appearance saga – in the previous book, it was mentioned how plain Kelsea is – in this one, she becomes prettier and loses weight because OF COURSE we can’t have a heroine who stays overweight and average.
I also felt the romance, if you can call it that, came out of nowhere. I’ll be interested to see what the author does with it in the next book.
-Who the hell is Kelsea’s father? We’ve managed to eliminate some suspects, but the mystery remains.
-I ship Mace and Andalee. Make it happen!
– What happened with William Tear when he first arrived? Who killed him and his heir?
– Are the Fetch and Rowland Finn more closely connected? And what role does the Fetch have in all of this?
Some kickass quotes:
“Do you honestly not know the right thing to do, General, or do you just pretend not to know because it’s easier that way?”
“Indeed, Your Holiness, the sexual freedom of consenting adults is the greatest threat this kingdom has ever faced,” Kelsea replied acidly. “God knows how we’ve lasted so long.”
In fact, the entire scene between Kelsea putting the priest in his place is utterly fantastic and had me cheering.
“It’s a gallery of your ancestors Majesty. Timpany said that when the Regent was drunk, he liked to go down and scream at your grandmother’s portrait.”
And Kelsea wondered suddently whether humanity ever actually changed. Did people grow and learn at all as the centuries passed? Or was humanity merely the tide, enlightenment advancing and then retreating as circumstance shifted? The most defining characteristic of the species might be lapse.
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof, and may change prior to publication.