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Literature / Queen of the Tearling

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Published in 2014 by Erika Johansen.

When she turns nineteen, Kelsea Raleigh Glynn must realize her birthright as queen of a small country known as the Tearling. Kelsea must right the wrongs of her mother, Queen Elyssa as well as deal with the neighboring country of Mortmesne, ruled by the malignant Red Queen. Long ago, Kelsea's ancestors crossed into the Tearling from America, in search of a better world. The key to defeating the evil of Mortmesne may lie in the secret of the Tearling's founding.

A second book in the planned series of three, The Invasion of the Tearling, published in 2015, deals with the growing conflict between the Tearling and Mortmesne, as Kelsea begins to have visions of Lily, a woman who lived in pre-crossing America, a world on the verge of collapse where every facet of life is dictated by an oppressive government.


The third and final novel, The Fate of the Tearling, was published on November 29, 2016.

The Series Contains Examples of the Following Tropes:

  • The Ageless: A few characters. The Queen of Mortmesne achieved this through magic, though hers was stated to be finite, hence why she wanted the sapphires. The Fetch and Rowland Finn were this through a curse.
  • Anachronism Stew: Justified by the fact that the Tearling was founded by people from futuristic America, who brought over some of the lasting technology and culture.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: The Fetch tells Kelsea he did not rape her while she was unconscious because she's too plain for his tastes. Kelsea is hurt that he thinks her plain, and does not much dwell on the fact that he told her he would have raped her if she was pretty.
  • Beak Attack: There is a specific breed of hawks, as big as dogs, who can kill people with their beak and talons. They are used as weapon.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: More heavy on the bitter than the sweet. By going back in time and killing Rowland Finn before he and the Fetch got cursed by Katie for killing Jonathan, Kelsea changed the future. She returned to a time where there is no Queen, as Katie had turned over the crown to create a democracy. No one she knew from the other timeline recognizes her and Pen is outside her reach once more, but as the events of the books never actually took place, everyone lives and she is free to live a normal life.
  • Blood Sport: Mace, Thorne, and Brenna were raised in an underground place called the Creche where children were forced to fight and kill each other for entertainment.
  • Corrupt Church: God's Church. While there are some, like Father Tyler, who truly believe in doing what is right, for the most part those involved in the church seem to be entirely corrupt and greedy.
  • Deadly Bath: An attempt on Kelsea's life is made while she's taking a bath.
  • Domestic Abuse: Andalie's husband abused both her and her children, and Lily's husband Greg abuses her in the second book.
  • Egopolis: The Tearling was named after its founder, William Tear. Subverted, as Tear himself never wanted anyone to name anything after him.
  • The Empath: Brenna, Thorne's servant, is specifically stated as being able to take away the pain of others.
  • The Empire: Mortmesne, led by the Red Queen, has all the trappings of this, though its citizens seem to be treated fairly well.
  • Faking the Dead: Elyssa Raleigh, said to have died, faked her death with the Mace's help and went into hiding. Kelsea finally meets her in the third book.
  • Fantasy World Map: Provided in the books as a roughly shield-shaped island with four nations: The Tearling, Mortmesne, Cadare, and Callae. (partial image)
  • Feathered Fiend: A specific breed of hawks is used as weapon.
  • Feudal Future: The Tearling is a monarchy founded by William Tear, who escaped with a handful of followers from a dystopian America.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Rowland Finn appears to others as a very beautiful man. His true form is somewhat less appealing...
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Red Queen terrifies her subjects.
  • Happily Adopted: Kelsea had a very happy childhood with Barty and Carlin.
  • The High Queen: Kelsea, referred to by her subjects as "The True Queen".
  • History Repeats: Discussed whether that is inevitable because Humans Are Bastards or whether this can be avoided.
  • Knight Templar: Anders who is basically the founder of this world's Inquisition.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future…: An interesting version in Invasion of the Tearling, as Lily's story takes place in a futuristic America but is actually happening before Kelsea was born. This continues into Fate of the Tearling, with Katie's story taking place not long after the Crossing.
  • Mental Time Travel: Kelsea experiences this in the second and third books, mentally traveling back via the Tear Sapphire and experiencing both Lily and Katie's lives. The Tear Sapphire caused her to become Lily's twin in looks as a result of the first, while the second allowed Katie to serve as a portal to allow Kelsea to physically travel back.
  • Mineral Macguffin: There are two, in the form of sapphires which belong to the Queen of the Tearling and the heir to the Tearling throne. The jewels have magical powers which are not quite understood, although the Queen of Mortmesne desperately wants them for herself. She gets them at the end of the second book, but they do not work for her.
  • New Neo City: New London, capital city of the Tearling. Also New Canaan, where Lily is from.
  • Oppressive States of America: Where the followers of William Tear were fleeing from.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Several times.
    • A lot could have been avoided if William Tear would have found a way of acknowledging his son Row.
    • The people that actually witnessed the Crossing and the old world try their hardest not to tell their children anything about it. Which contributes to History Repeats
  • Precognition: Andalie and her youngest child, Glee, both display this power, and Andalie later confirms it's inherited through her bloodline.
  • Psychic Children: Andalie's youngest child, Glee, inherited her mother's power of prophecy.
  • Red Baron: The Orphan (Rowland Finn), The Fetch (Gavin Murphy), The Red Queen ( Evelyn Raleigh), The Queen of Spades (Kelsea's darker side)
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Kelsea retained all memory of the original timeline when she returned to the new timeline, having a hard time adjusting as a result.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Using the Tear Sapphire and with an assist from William Tear himself, Kelsea goes back in time to just before Rowland Finn killed Jonathan and got cursed by Katie, killing both Jonathan and Row herself and effectively nullifying the events of the entire series.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Near the end of the final book, a lot of plot threads are still open. Then it ends with almost everybody dying, before the last few hundred years of history are rewritten by Kelsea so none of the events of the books ever took place.
  • Ship Sinking: Kelsea and Pen. They manage to get together somewhat midway through the second book, but are sunk once via Kelsea's sacrifice at the end of the second book, sunk again by Pen after Kelsea's rescue midway through the third book, and finally sunk for good in the Bittersweet Ending with Pen, now named Andrew, having a wife and child in the new timeline.
  • Slave Liberation: The first thing Kelsea does as queen is put a stop to the Tearling's slave trade.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: In case you didn't know that the Mort were evil, they practice slavery. Kelsea is horrified to learn that the Tearling sells slaves to the Red Queen in exchange for safety.
    • Evil Tear characters also have slaves.
  • Science Fantasy: It's set in the future on another planet but there's magic. It's also partially set in Earth's future.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Kelsea swaps clothes with the youngest of the soldiers who accompany her, in the hopes that the enemy spies will be misled, and also because he has armour. She soon finds out that a breastplate meant for a male who is slimmer than her is not exactly comfortable.
  • Tell Me About My Father!: Kelsea, about both her mother Queen Elyssa and her unknown father. It's eventually revealed that Mhurn, the guard she killed during the first book, was her father.
  • Tracking Chip: A mandatory implant for those living in the Oppressive States of America mentioned above. It's said to be impossible to remove without killing the person it's implanted in via poison, but as several characters have theirs removed, that may be a lie.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Carlin tries to raise Kelsea in a way so that she won't follow in her mother's footsteps, having all of Queen Elyssa's vanity and weakness.
  • Upbringing Makes the Hero: Carlin and Barty raised Kelsea so that she would be a wise and just queen.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: After being captured by "the Fetch", Kelsea wakes up from unconsciousness and discovers someone stripped her of her clothes, bathed her and dressed her in something else. She is understandably upset and is indignant when The Fetch then essentially tells her, "That was me, but don't worry, you are too plain for my tastes."


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