Viewpoint change! The Red Queen of Mortmesne is waking from a nightmare. She’s been having dreams about “Queen Elyssa’s child” for a while now. These dreams also involve fires and a strange, gray man, but the Red Queen focuses on the girl we readers know to be Kelsea.
In the Queen’s dreams she was sturdy and dark haired, with a strong, determined face and her mother’s green Raleigh eyes. But unlike Elyssa, she was a plain thing, and somehow that seemed the worst detail of all, the one that conveyed the most reality.
So a woman is “real” or not depending on her level of attractiveness. Fuck you, book. Continue reading →
Technically, this isn’t part of Chapter One, but the book begins with the traditional Left-Justified Fantasy Map. The Tearling, is to the farthest west and north possible, of course. Some other randomly-named kingdoms are to the south and east, the canonically evil cardinal directions! I wonder if swarthy people live there.
All right, on to the text.
The chapter begins with a quote from a Tearling history book, detailing a bit of our queenly heroine’s biography. I like this technique, although it does somewhat spoil the suspense about Kelsea’s lifespan. Oh, and our heroine is named Kelsea. Kelsea Raleigh Glynn. Things are not looking up. Continue reading →
Finally, it’s happened! I’ve finally found a book that I want to share with everybody, chapter by chapter. Because I want you to suffer like I suffered, er, I mean I love you all so much. That’s right. Come, Internet friends and strangers, let’s read The Queen of the Tearling.
To set the stage: The Queen of the Tearling is a fantasy novel. It has all the elements of your traditional, YA-ish fantasy novel—a young heroine, a kingdom, a concrete enemy, etc. The Queen of the Tearling is also kind of a big deal. Of course, Queen of the Tearling is the first book of a trilogy, but in addition the movie rights have already been sold and Famous Harry Potter Actress Emma Watson will portray the titular queen. (The movie deal plays heavily into the marketing of the book.) The author, Erika Johansen, earned a seven-figure advance for the series despite publishing being in the worst of its seemingly eternal monetary death throes. Johansen has given many interviews about how her book is unique because of its plain heroine and lack of romance—this sort-of feminist angle, like the movie, is a conspicuous part of the book’s publicity. Johansen is also a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, so she should know the basics, like how to construct a plot and how to construct a sentence.
I didn’t know most of this information when I picked up Queen of the Tearling. I was facing a long flight and wanted something engaging to pass the time. The parts of the book jacket that aren’t devoted to the movie deal promise “thrilling adventure and action, dark magic, mystery and romance.” So I expected certain elements: intrigue, swordplay, daring women, mysterious men, perhaps some spiffy magic and everything tied up with a kiss or maybe a really awesome fight. Or both at the same time! Something along the lines of The Privilege of the Sword or the fantasy version of a Vorkosigan novel. Even if it wasn’t up to those books’ standard—and not much is, frankly—I expected it to be at least competently told and not stupidly offensive.
You failed, Queen of the Tearling, oh, how you failed. Continue reading →
Somebody very important has gone missing! Specifically, it’s Arianne Martell. She’s missing from the Game of Thrones season 5 casting list, and people are angry. Some of the complaints are because Arianne is a strong female character.
Reaaaaally? Is it possible that George R.R. Martin really created a strong female character?
Like, a real one? Or one who can twist her butt in line with her boobs? Cause that doesn’t count. Continue reading →