The second book in the Tearling trilogy by Johansen, I liked this one more and less than the first book, The Queen of the Tearling. It started out poorly, which I think turned me off it but I continued reading and was well rewarded.
****SPOILERS TO FOLLOW****
I had two main issues with this book. First, the book starts off with a closer look at the Church and the role of Tyler in it. Tyler is a good character- he’s a solid believer and a valuable ally and adviser for Queen Kelsea. But the Church as a whole, in which Tyler is a very small, insignificant part, is bloated, corrupt, and hypocritical. And as a Christian, I get tired of reading about how awful the Church is, especially from people (like Johansen) that I would bet have nothing to do with a church at all. The second thing that really bothered me was the change in Kelsea’s appearance. For an author who wrote an article titled “Why We Need ‘Ugly’ Heroines“, I was disappointed to read that Kelsea was slowly turning beautiful. And while it’s implied that this is the combined effect of Kelsea’s desire to be beautiful and the power of her sapphires, part of Kelsea’s appeal in the first book was that she was just a normal girl with normal looks. This is only the second book so hopefully she will return to her normal self by the end of the trilogy.
Other than those few things though, this book was really good. And strangely, for a book where not much happens, we get so much information about the story it’s hard to keep track of everything. The book starts with the Mort army at the borders of Tear territory. Some 400 pages later, they reach the Tear capital, which takes about a week (if I remember correctly). But we find out so much about the history of the Mort Queen and also about the history of the Tear people. And best of all, we finally find out about the mysterious “Crossing” through flashbacks. I really love that Johansen makes you work for information. There’s no simple paragraph or chapter telling us exactly what happened when; instead we find out about the Tear history as Kelsea does. The book is over 500 pages but it moves fast and it of course ends with a cliffhanger. Hopefully the third book will be coming soon because this trilogy has been very good so far and if the final book is as good as the first two, this series could easily become one of my favorites.