Note: No spoilers for this book, the third in the series.
This book concludes the fantasy/post-apocalyptic series that began with The Queen of the Tearling and continued with The Invasion of the Tearling.
In this future world, Kelsea Raleigh Glynn has just turned 19, and therefore is allowed to take over the throne of the Tearling (an area named for the person who established it several hundred years before).
Kelsea is beset by challenges left to her not only by her mother, the former Queen Elyssa, but by her less-than-savory uncle, who was serving as Regent until Kelsea came of age. The evils of her own kingdom aren’t her only problem; the neighboring kingdom, Mortmesne, has a dictator known as The Red Queen who would like to destroy Tearling, and there are also some dark supernatural forces at work in the world.
But Kelsea has a couple of aces in her pocket, or at least, a couple of magic sapphires, which she inherited when she became queen. They give her magic powers, and are highly coveted by The Red Queen. When a war started by Mortmesne threatens to overwhelm Tearling, Kelsea, determined to save her people, gives herself up to The Red Queen and turns over the sapphires.
As The Fate of the Tearling begins, Kelsea is on her way to prison in Mortmesne. Although she no longer has the sapphires, she still continues to see visions from 300 years ago during the time of Tear’s founding. From these visions, she hopes to solve a number of mysteries, the biggest one being: how does she fix the problem of so much evil in the world? Will finding out what went wrong with the original settlement show how it could have been averted?
As the story unfolds, Kelsea – locked in a cell – has plenty of time to contemplate the nature and nurturing of pernicious thoughts and behaviors. But when she finally has the chance to do something about it, she only has a short time to decide if she can pay the very steep price necessary to save her kingdom. The ending is definitely bittersweet.
Discussion: Like other trilogies of this ilk, this one has plenty of overused tropes and caricatures. And in case you noticed the similarities to Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, eventually a third jewel even shows up. Not all the questions are answered – in fact, few of them are. We never learn, for example, what is the source and extent of magic in the Tear. It’s an interesting strategy; one must simply accept it as given. The story includes other unique aspects, and is often engrossing and entertaining, perhaps explaining why it has been optioned for a movie and is set to star Emma Watson as Kelsea, the main protagonist.
Evaluation: This series has its faults, but it makes for irresistible reading. The books are definitely not standalones.
Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2016