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Library Journal Review
At the end of The Invasion of the Tearling, Kelsea, Queen of the Tearling, turned herself and the sapphires she controls over to her enemy, the Red Queen of Mortmesne. She named the head of her guard, Mace, as regent in her absence and obtained a guarantee from the Red Queen that the Tear would be safe for three years. Even imprisoned and without the sapphires, Kelsea is still seeing visions of the past, this time through the eyes of Katie, a young woman living in the early days after the Crossing. In Kelsea's time Mace works to recover Kelsea from the Red Queen's dungeons, while in Katie's time the seeds for the downfall of Tear's utopian dream are sown. Johansen has consistently taken huge narrative risks with this series, which started as a traditional fantasy and then began incorporating glimpses of a dystopian alternate world. VERDICT With richly developed characters who are never boring black and white, and villains who are as fascinating as the heroes, the finale of this outstanding series will be talked about by readers. [See Prepub Alert, 11/30/15.]-MM © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In this centuries-spanning epic adventure, Johansen concludes the Tearling trilogy (after The Invasion of the Tearling) with Queen Kelsea Glynn risking everything to save her beloved, beleaguered homeland from troubles both internal and external. Beset by visions of the time after the Tear's founding some 300 years ago, she struggles to understand how the past defines the present and what part the malevolent Orphan, the enigmatic Fetch, and the ruthless Red Queen of Mortmesne have yet to play in the destiny of their world. Numerous stories play out against a wide backdrop, with the death of a dream creating hope for the future. Johansen's vision-a society tearing itself apart amid the effort to redefine itself-is ambitious, and the conflict is fleshed out through myriad character arcs, some more compelling than others. However, the bittersweet resolution, which wraps up the story quite nicely, undermines much of what transpires here. The historical scenes carry more weight and significance than the chaos of the present, though Johansen adeptly describes the destruction and despair. This is a solid, if not entirely satisfying, end to the series. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, William Morris Endeavor. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* It is a time of great upheaval for the kingdom of the Tear. When last seen, in The Invasion of the Tearling (2015), Queen Kelsea Glynn had surrendered herself to enemy custody and designated the leader of her guard as Regent. Captain Mace and the Queen's Guard are prevented from mounting a rescue due to serious unrest at home. The church is rallying the populace against the throne, and the evil Row Finn has loosed a hoard of bloodthirsty, childlike creatures on the land. Puzzled to still be alive, Kelsea finds herself in chains while being transported to Mortmesne under heavy guard. She wonders if it was the right decision to give her sapphires to the Red Queen after all. Even without the magical jewels, her visions of events from the past continue this time as Katie Rice, a member of the first Tearling settlement. Secrets are revealed, providing answers to unresolved issues from earlier volumes. Both Kelsea and Katie will examine past mistakes, consider the nature of forgiveness and the morality of right or wrong, and ultimately deal with the consequences of trying to achieve a utopian dream. This is a thrilling conclusion to a fantastic trilogy. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The finale of this popular series expands upon the past and provides answers to unresolved issues from earlier in the series. Johansen's fans will be pleased.--Lockley, Lucy Copyright 2016 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
The Red Queen is off her headand heads, it seems, will roll in this closing installment of Johansens Tearling trilogy.The first volume of the Tearling triad, Queen of the Tearling (2014), struggled under the weight of its establishing requirements: Johansen had to build and populate a world, then wind her heroine up and get her going. The second, The Invasion of the Tearling (2015), propelled Kelsea to a place of powerand deservedly, since she had plenty of chops to lead her people against a constellation of bad guys from Mortmesne. This last volume finds Kelsea in a position of queen sacrifice, to borrow a chess metaphor: shes turned herself over to the foe and is now in the Red Queens slammer, where a jailer patiently instructs her, Women shouldnt curse, to which her reply is, Get fucked. Thats noblesse oblige, indeed. But, the world of the Tear being a place where all kinds of magick gets tossed about with abandon, things have a habit of going topsy-turvy all of a sudden; Kelsea finds herself sprung, sapphires back in hand, the Red Queen tugging at her in an iron grip of terrora good time, one might say, to get some negotiating in. Will peace prevail? Who knows? Though Johansen leaves herself a little wiggle room to turn her trilogy into an ongoing franchise, Silmarillion-like, the end gets all liony, witchy, and wardrobyand, the most overworked plot trick of all, would seem to turn on a dream, or perhaps even a dream within a dream, requiring more than a little disbelief-suspension. Still, the writing is smart and tinged with a kind of rueful, bookish philosophizing throughout (Religion always rode on the back of turmoil, like a jockey), a touch above a lot of sword-and-sorcery stuffbut still very much bound up in the conventions of that genre. Overall, a satisfying close to a long but worthy yarn. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.