Book review: The Fate of the Tearling

Erika JohansenThis is the third of the trilogy by Erika Johansen so do not read this without first reading the other two. It is unpredictable with storylines and time strands which come and go and inter-link, at times incorporating fantasy, sci-fi, time-travel and magic. It is a very different sort of fantasy tale and in that difference lies its awkwardness. There are gaps in the storyline, the timeline, and some thinly sketched characters turn out to be pivotal. Sometimes I had the feeling the author should have written one long book rather than two, or two rather than a trilogy – are authors encouraged to write trilogies with film rights in mind? The first book was the best, the second was intriguing but left me with many questions, the third has left me undecided. I struggled with the first half and would have appreciated a list of characters from the previous two books, but then in the second half the story came alive for me and I finished it one Saturday afternoon.

At the end of the second book, Queen Kelsea surrendered herself to the Red Queen in order to save her kingdom. The third book opens as Kelsea is imprisoned in a Mort dungeon, while her right-hand man, the Mace, has returned to Tearling to run the country. Kelsea is still having visions, now of a teenager called Katie who lives in the Town, the first settlement when the ship arrived at the island. Meanwhile in New London, the Mace is facing an attack by the Church. There are many new characters added here, some of which seem to go nowhere while others turn out to be key to the ending. Katie’s storyline connects with that of New Town now in the time of the Kelsea. Both struggle as William Tear’s vision of an ideal world, the society he wanted to create, fractures amidst suspicion, fear, jealousy, avarice and the rise of religion.

This trilogy will reward re-reading. I finished it with the feeling that I needed to read all three, back-to-back, to understand them better. But some things will remain unexplained.

Read my reviews of the first two books in the trilogy:
The Queen of the Tearling
The Invasion of the Tearling

If you like this, try:-
‘The Bear and the Nightingale’ by Katherine Arden
‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman
‘In Ark’ by Lisa Devaney

‘The Fate of the Tearling’ by Erika Johansen, Tearling #3 [UK: Bantam Press] Buy at Amazon

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