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The Queen of the Tearling

A Novel
Written by: Erika Johansen
Narrated by: Katherine Kellgren
Series: Queen of the Tearling, Book 1
Length: 14 hrs and 30 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Magic, adventure, mystery, and romance combine in this epic debut in which a young princess must reclaim her dead mother’s throne, learn to be a ruler - and defeat the Red Queen, a powerful and malevolent sorceress determined to destroy her.

On her 19th birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon - from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic - to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun - a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend...if she can survive.

©2014 Erika Johansen (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyed the book, but where’s the 2nd?

Audible has the 1st and 3rd books...but not the 2nd? Really want to continue the series!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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my favourite narrator so far!

I had already read this series on my own but wanted something to fall asleep to at night so I got the audiobook. The narrator was so fantastic that it was hard to fall asleep to but gave new life to the story. I am so disappointed that the second book isn't on audible and that the third in the series isn't with the same narrator.

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loved this

everything about this was just what I wanted! highly recommend. the story and voice actor was great

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Great Book

I really loved everything about this story, and they had a great voice actor!
#Audible1

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Eric Nielsen
  • 2015-07-22

Slow beginning, excellent payoff

Where does The Queen of the Tearling rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's up there. It definitely starts out slow--I have seen super mixed reviews about this book, and in most cases people cite the slow beginning as a negative. Don't stop there! It picks up once she arrives in Tearling.

What does Katherine Kellgren bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Kellgren's performance is excellent. At first her accent was too much for me, but by the end of the book, I wanted to listen to more of her narration. Her voices bring the characters to life. I was pretty impressed with her range.

25 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Syd Young
  • 2015-03-19

Pleasant Surprise

I started this before and liked it but for some reason put it down. Came back to it while cleaning up my half read list, and purchased the audio to help. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth the narrator added to it, and at how much I enjoyed the book as a whole, it was easy to commit to this time around.

Pure earth fantasy, with magic, red queen, guards, outlaws (the handsome fetch) and a come to age white queen story. Fun spring break reading. P. S. I think it's interesting how there are still the red queen/white queen basis to stories so many years after that conflict in English history.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • B.A. Wilson
  • 2017-10-30

There Are a Thousand Better Options Than This

This book has multiple personalities, some that I like, and others that I could do without. There are moments when this was a solid 4 star read, with sparkles of 5, and it held my full attention. Then there were long stretches that were so boring that I still can’t keep any of those characters straight and can’t recall what really happened (because nothing really happened).

Where this first goes wrong is that it presents, in terms of setting, as a historical/medieval novel, except that it’s a fantasy world, only it’s not really a fantasy world, it’s a futuristic dystopia of our current world. Um…what? Are any of you still with me? If not, no worries, because I read the entire book and still do not have a clue what is going on with this setting, world, or the world building.

Don’t get me wrong. I like cross genre novels, but this is not that. This is a poorly fleshed out world, and I found that frustrating, even though I’m not one who enjoys a ton of elaborate setting. This isn’t just about the setting, it’s about the whole entire world. If you aren’t much of a fantasy reader or you are okay with vaguey-vague-vague-vague when it comes to your fantasy world or world building, this may work for you. Most of the time, it didn’t work for me, but I hung in there, thinking any moment might be the moment where it all comes together, which at least gave me something to anticipate across the long boring stretches of the story where nothing seems to happen.

The world building that does exist, is sometimes interesting and other times just downright confusing, bewildering, and poorly thought out. On a scale of 1 to 10, this should get maybe a 2 or 3 for world building. Since they’re selling this as some sort of epic or high fantasy novel, that’s absolutely atrocious. It is no way compares to the epics in YA fantasy, such as Sarah J. Mass or Leigh Bardugo.

What I do love is the main character, who is interesting, refreshing, and just a bit different. If she had stayed in control of the story, I probably would have enjoyed it far more. Instead, the story would often shift away from her and follow other people who weren’t that interesting and didn’t seem to be all that important to the plot, enough to have warranted their own segment. Also, for whatever reason, most of their names blurred together. It seems like half the males in the novel have names starting with a T.

The previous comment reminds me that the males in this story, on the whole, are sexist, small minded, superior, and disloyal, even those closest to the Queen, which I also don’t love. I mean, I kind of love one of them despite that, but I also want to smack him, upon occasion. As for the rest, their motivations and character development are typically one dimensional, and occasionally two dimensional, at best, so it’s hard for me to take much interest in them.

That brings us to the plot which is extremely sparse and drawn out, and the storyline, which is epically slow. There was a perfect setup here for a lot to happen in this first novel, and instead, the forward motion was pretty minimal. Early after arriving at her kingdom, Kelsea does something that should enrage a Queen of another kingdom, but who knows what happens? The story never progresses enough (past 7 days) for us to even find out what the consequences were for her rash decision.

It actually must be kind of nice to do something that should cause a major upset, and then not have to deal with the consequences. It’s great for the MC. For the reader, it’s just disappointing. The author seems unable to put her character in truly difficult situations, and if things do get a bit hairy, the MC always immediately overcomes the issue or obstacle with a bit of unexplained magic. Again, that’s great for Kelsea, because her life is pretty easy, but it doesn’t make this story as interesting to read as it could be. She basically never has to overcome true adversity. It’s just all surface adversity or telling us about Kelsea’s trials. Never are we shown how she’s faced with disaster and overcomes, and her magic always arises just in time that nothing truly bad ever occurs.

I guess I’m just not that interested in reading about constant good luck, or if I am, then I want to fully understand the magic or world building that led to that sort of luck.

I have to confess, I’m going to go on and read book two, even though I’m worried. I have to do it, because I want to know a bit more about what happens, since almost nothing at all is addressed or resolved in book one. Also, I already purchased the audiobook, so it will feel like I threw money away if I don’t at least try it.

I know this review sounds critical, so I think it’s important to say that I don’t hate this book. There are some characters and scenes that I really enjoyed. I suspect some people may actually love this book. The problem for me is that this had the potential to be something fantastic, and the fact that it just isn’t upsets me more than anything else. It’s not terrible, it just needed a lot more critical editing than it got. It feels almost like an early draft, and I can’t help thinking that if it had gone through a few more rewrites, this story could be so much better.

Wasted scenes should have been cut, and the world building should have been improved, as there are some bones here from a skeleton of a story that I could have potentially loved. So I’m even more upset, because I think this had potential and fell short, rather than it’s just a mediocre novel to match my mediocre score.

I should now repeat that I really did love some parts of this novel. I’m not suggesting with my review that you don’t read it. I’m just suggesting that you should lower your expectations before you pick it up. Ignore the poor comparisons to other novels. Don’t expect a novel full of rich world building. Realize that forward motion will be slow. Don’t expect the issues from early in the novel to be addressed or resolved by the end of the novel. Also, be aware of a randomly planted and not fully fleshed out love interest who only appears at the start and the end of the novel, by which time you’ve already lost interest. He’s definitely a plant, and his being there, for both events, in no way helps the plot of the story. I suspect it’s just to place him in the lineup as a potential suitor for future books. Also meh.

I’m hoping book 2 doesn’t suffer the issues of book 1, and that it will have been worth sticking it out. If not, I suspect I won’t continue on to Book 3.

The narrator is decent. You may end up rewinding a lot, but for me it was due to poor storytelling, not poor narration.

PS: I did go on to book 2. It was awful and frustrating, and I was unable to finish it. I just thought I would tag that in to this review, in case it is helpful to anyone. In fact, book two basically destroys the things I did like about book one, so it's just mind-numbing and exhausting.

5 people found this helpful

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  • C.
  • 2017-08-08

It was okay.

The story itself was kind of interesting -- I like that the protagonist wasn't your typical beautiful heroine. But the author's obvious hatred of the Catholic Church was off-putting, as was her depiction of the supposedly feminist character Kelsea, who smiles at the gift of her uncle's head on a pike and who ridicules a female enemy for being old and ugly, insinuating that she is worthless because of these qualities. But at least the character is different from the norm I guess, and doesn't end up in a love triangle or anything.

The narration was fine, although not my cup of tea. Anytime the action picked up a teeny tiny bit, the narrator would begin yelling and pick up speed, which I personally found annoying, but maybe that was just because I was using headphones. The accents she used for most of the male characters were a little caricature-y, as well, but she did make sure each one had their own specific voice, so that didn't bother me as much.

Altogether I would give the story a 4/10. Interesting enough if you have time to spare and are bored, but not something I would seek out specifically. Not sure what all the fuss is about. Also interesting to note that Emma Watson will be starring as Kelsea in the film version...wonder if they're going to make her 'ugly' somehow, as that seems to be the main attraction for those making all the fuss -- the fact that the protagonist isn't remotely pretty (by society's standards anyway). I guess that remains to be seen.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Olivia Casey
  • 2014-12-30

Loved the story and the narrator

What did you love best about The Queen of the Tearling?

All the characters, but particularly the growth of the young Queen.

What does Katherine Kellgren bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I love Katherine Kellgren as a narrator. Her pace is perfect and I thought the character voices were all excellent, especially for the Queens' guard. I will say she was a little piercing in the beginning, but she calmed down as the story went. And in defense of the narrator, the main character struggles with being quick (and often) to anger. So there is that to consider.

16 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Nik
  • 2014-12-20

Volume changed a lot

What disappointed you about The Queen of the Tearling?

I've listened to this reader on other audiobooks and liked her, but this audiobook didn't work for me. She went from speaking normally to yelling in my ear every couple of minutes, which was very distracting.

34 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Small Mountain
  • 2016-10-29

Immature, flat, randomly foul story

Having been on something of a nonfiction binge lately, it is possible that I have been spoiled by the other titles I have listened to lately. That said, I felt The Queen of the Tearling left a lot to be desired.

First and foremost, the story feels like a draft. Either the people of Tearling try their best to act their perceived societal archetypes, in which case they are all deep, layered geniuses fooling the queen, or the characters never made it past those archetypes in the author's, and thus the queen's, mind. One of few characters that experienced any sort of growth was the gate guard. Why does the gate guard's side story seem more transformative than the queen's story???

17 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jen T.
  • 2018-05-14

Mediocre writing and overacted narration

I wanted to like this book, but the plot and characters are just too ham-fisted and needlessly frustrating. In lieu of dramatic tension, the characters are instead irrational with each other beyond reason. Frequently the exposition, which is necessary for almost every element of the plot given the backstory, is pushed forward in awkward bursts instead of a more natural and fluid unveiling.

The narrator, who does have a lovely range of accents and timbres to create distinct characters, unfortunately screams her way through the book. I don't know who was in charge of producing the audiobook, but great googly moogly they needed to dial the narrator's ferocity and excitement back by about 90% to make it enjoyable. Maybe they thought the additional oomph would make up for the otherwise plodding plot and whiny tendencies the characters, but for a longtime sci-fi audiobook aficionado like me, it was just cringingly laughable.

While I have some curiosity how this story develops, I'm just not willing to spend my credits on the rest of the series. I'd rather check the books out from the library and save myself some money and time.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Trust Me
  • 2016-01-03

Great story, great narration!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Queen of the Tearling to be better than the print version?

I felt like the narration enhanced the experience. Often times I prefer print, but I felt like being read to for once.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I think the most interesting aspects are the potential for future devloping relationships. The Fetch (or is the Fetch actually a sibling or her father), and there is potential for something to happen with the priest who loves books as much as the Queen.

Have you listened to any of Katherine Kellgren’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, I have not, but I enjoyed her narration, and was going to look for other books she narrated. You aren't going to please everybody, People either like the narrator or they don't. I liked this narrator, and I thought she did a great job when the narration required enthusiam and excitement.

Any additional comments?

I was a little confused as to what the time period was. Occassionally something was mentioned that made me wonder. Carpet? That wasn't invented until the 1700s, there were rugs before that. Pens? or were they referring to Quills? Building a printing press? Hand drawn books. Just what year is it exactly. It may have been mentioned, but I must have missed it That being said it didn't detract from the overall story line, just every once and a while, I wih had a better grasp of the time frame.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jennifer
  • 2016-01-12

Great Story, Over-The-Top Narration!

What made the experience of listening to The Queen of the Tearling the most enjoyable?

It really held my attention from start to finish.

What did you like best about this story?

A very well formed and exciting story, with a strong, yet relatable, female lead

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

She has a nice voice and does the different characters well, but at time she seemed to be yelling with the excitement of the book. It makes it difficult to find an acceptable volume for listening through earbuds.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

SPOILER! I teared up when the Queen chose to execute the traitor in the Queens-guard. Nothing is black and white/ all good and all evil in this book.

Any additional comments?

This book was recommend to fans of Harry Potter, but it's almost more Game of Thrones than the former. Though considerably less violent than GOT, I still can't believe it's classified as Young Adult. Can't wait to see the film!

10 people found this helpful