The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Warning:  Salty language ahead.

I already knew that this was left-oriented before I read it.  However, I am currently on a big fantasy kick, so I decided to read it anyway, since I have already read lefty fantasy (Kristin Cashore’s Graceling Realm trilogy) before.

Anyways, so far I agree with the negative reviewers – the setting is confusing.  I had assumed it was your typical European medieval fantasy, set in the past, on some planet in another universe, but as it turns out, it’s set in the future.  I had thought it might have been alternate history, like Melissa de la Cruz’s The Ring and the Crown (another one I’m currently reading) but it’s not.  The setting is one of the many problems I have with this little slice of propaganda.

It’s set on some continent somewhere that possibly might not be Earth.  We aren’t really told where it is, just that the story takes place mostly in the Tearling, a kingdom built on the ruins of a utopia founded by some guy named William Tear, who found the land that would become the Tearling after he and a bunch of Brits and Americans settled on the land after some mysterious event called The Crossing.  For some odd reason, society has become your typical medieval European society, with the absolute monarchy given authority by a powerful Christian church and the feudal system of lords practically owning the poor.

None of the reviewers noted that this book’s protagonist, Kelsea Glynn (the titular Queen of the Tearling) was inspired by Barack Obama.  Reading the book, I can see how the author, who is obvioulsy a leftist, was inspired by the election of Obama.  The author sees the US as some medieval, backwards feudal society where the haves own everything (in the Tearling, it’s the aristocracy, who own the land and graciously allow the serfs to live on it in exchange for working their fingers to the bone so that the aristocrats can make lots of money) and the have nots own, well, nothing, being that they’re the have nots.

Meanwhile, the neighboring kingdom, called Mortmense, is ruled by a mysterious, slutty tyrant known only as the Red Queen.  She’s immortal, she’s powerful, and she’s a greedy bitch, and she’s been trying to have Kelsea killed for the past nineteen years.

Here is something I don’t get.  In the book, the Red Queen doesn’t really want to invade the Tearling, because the slave treaty she has going with the Tearling is much easier than invading and then colonizing the place, having to spend capital on running the Tearling, etc.  She gets slaves from the Tearling, and they in turn keep Mortmense’s economy running.  Sound familiar?  Yep, I guess the Mort is the South, and the Tear, even though they’re all white, are in fact, the blacks.  Never mind.  She wants to kill Kelsea so that her arrangement keeps going.

What I don’t understand is how the Tearling has nothing to offer.  Nobody there can make iron or steel weapons – they’re all fighting with either wooden weapons or weapons forged from materials obtained on the black market.  Seriously?  I’m an obsessive player of the fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim, and in this game, there’s a group of people called the Forsworn who make their weapons and armor from what looks like animal teeth (the armor is also made with animal hide and fur, but still).  This is just weak.

Then there’s the usual “The Catholic church is sooooo evil and way more corrupt than anything else in existence and all religious people are just so STUPID” crap, of which got criticism from die hard lefty reviewers on GoodReads.  Now you know why I call this leftist propaganda.

Anything relentlessly one-sided is nothing more than propaganda.  All the religious people in the book so far are uniformly, universally loathsome and/or pathetic.  Father Tyler, the priest who crowned Kelsea and is appointed her court priest or whatever, so far seems to be decent, but only because he’s bookish and sheltered like Kelsea, and also because he’s timid (as requested by Kelsea).  I expect him to either die quickly, become atheist, or become as loathsome as the other priests are portrayed.  People aren’t like that in real life.  There’s a bad apple in every barrel – every society, club, whatever has its good people and its bad people.  I’m not saying that there aren’t bad people in the Catholic church.  There are.  But they aren’t all bad, and they’re not all child molesters.  This pains me to say, but not even all Muslims are bloodthirsty murdering terrorists.

Yet in every one of these obviously leftist novels, the religious right wingers are these cartoonishly bad, evil, hypocritical asswipes, while all the lefties are pious, perfect, good people who are never mean and never hypocritical and never wrong.

The world building sucks.  I don’t know why this is the in thing, but lately it seems that a lot of authors don’t want you, the reader, to know the whole picture until the last installment.  They plunk you into this world and don’t explain why it is the way it is and how they got there.  No, they make you wait until the last installment of the trilogy, or quartet, or saga.  That was my big problem with the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.  We knew that the faction society was put in place after a war in order to keep the peace, but we didn’t find out why that war was fought, and why the faction society was really created until much later in the series.

To me, if you’re going to write a dystopian novel, you have to establish the world, why the world operates the way it does, how it became the way it is, and then spend the rest of the story showing the protagonist changing the world for the better.

I read about how Kelsea demands the armory hire  a blacksmith to make her a sword and some armor.  I think that’s a good idea, but didn’t I read much earlier in the story that one of the major disadvantages the Tearling had compared to Mortmesne was that Mortmesne had steel and iron, whereas the Tearling did not?  If I’m right, how the hell is the blacksmith going to make her anything?

A note about how, according to Carlin, the Bible is dangerous in the wrong hands, or some such nonsense.  Again, on page 234 for future reference.  On my Goodreads progress I wrote the following:

More anti-Christian crap. Why didn’t Carlin have her read other holy books, like the Koran? I guess Islam doesn’t exist in the Tearling or Mortmesne – no, only Christians are evil.

Loads of leftist atheists claim to read the Bible but they rarely ever understand it. It’s one thing to read it – it’s quite another to understand it.

I wanted to add that for every single contradiction or criticism a leftist atheist can pull out of their ass, I could refute it by putting the verse in question into context.  A lot of their criticisms can be debunked.

Page 320 of my hardcover copy has the infamous “You’re a fool” line from Kelsea the Atheist.  It set me off and I called her a cunt.  I still think she’s a cunt.

This book reminds me of Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue.  Both involve young queens – Bitterblue was 18 in that book, while Kelsea is 19 – both involve said young queens trying to hold their country together and make it better.  Both characters are similar in personality and temperament – bookish, ultra-feminist, not particularly good looking, and incredibly naive and self righteous at the same time.

It’s the latter two traits that irritate me the most.  If I were nineteen and had either just taken a throne or came of age and ready to rule without the regent, I’d still consult and highly respect the opinions of those around me, particularly those who had served the monarch for decades, people much older and more experienced than me.  These two ascend to the throne and barrel through reforming their respective kingdoms without ever considering the consequences of their actions, and this is especially true in Kelsea’s case.  All Bitterblue had to do was discover her father’s dark secrets and figure out how to heal her subjects.  Kelsea has to fend off an invasion from a much more technologically advanced and powerful army that has absolutely no mercy, yet she is just so utterly unlikable that I just had no sympathy for her, nor did I ever really root for her.  I keep reading because I am hoping to find out who the Red Queen really is, and how the Tearling will defend itself from the Mort invasion, if it does.

A lot of feminists whine and cry about how people call them bitches when they’re just being “assertive” but in reality, they’re all such obnoxious bitches who think they have all the answers.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being assertive and speaking up and defending yourself, but it can be done without being such a raging, condescending bitch.  Take that meeting Kelsea had with the general and the colonel – these two men had probably been fighting longer than she’s been alive, yet she completely dismisses what they have to say.  She doesn’t know jack shit about military strategy yet thinks she has all the answers, and that they just HAVE to divert their already thin, meager sources to evacuating some border villages.  She doesn’t even try to compromise.  What happens if the Mort army gets to the border early and slaughters that battalion AND the villagers?  What’s she gonna do then?

Slavery is wrong.  I can’t blame her for wanting to end such a revolting practice.  Thing is, something like that takes time to change.  You want to change it, but not get people killed in the process.  Not only that, she makes these decisions while barely knowing anything about the Red Queen and her kingdom other than they’re more technologically advanced and that they’re powerful and heartless.  Knowing anything about them beyond that would have probably been much more beneficial in devising a plan that would end the slave trade.

So we finally get to the bitter end.  Kelsea had a vision of a clandestine slave delivery arranged by Arlen Thorne, and she badgers her Queen’s Guards into going to stop it, which they do.  The most action to happen since the beginning of the book.

I’ve been thinking about this Crossing, and how it doesn’t seem to make any sense to me.  There are no undiscovered continents on Earth, obviously.  When the Crossing is discussed, it is done in terms of, say, Columbus’s voyage to the New World, aka North America (or rather, some islands he thought was India, but whatever).  As in, they all got into a ship and sailed across an ocean to land in the New World, aka the continent the Tearling, Mortmesne, etc reside on.  I am hoping that the Crossing is actually a metaphor for William Tear and all his lefty utopians boarding a spaceship and sailing to an uninhabited planet capable of supporting life.  Otherwise, this shit is really confusing.

Oh, and the Red Queen doesn’t fucking invade the Tearling.  She is afraid of Kelsea, and this dark, handsome entity that she sacrifices children to.  This entity tells her that she cannot invade the Tearling, or she will answer to him.  That is just so weak.  This whole time, we, the reader, have been led to greatly fear this Mort invasion and the oh-so-fearsome Red Queen doesn’t even bother because her scary Dark Boyfriend tells her not to.  That scene was interesting, but anti-climactic.

Most of this was boring, sadly.  I am so glad I finally finished it.  It took me a month to finish because I spent most of my free time playing Skyrim (I have a much more awesome story for my Skyrim character Malin, who will become Empress of Tamriel someday).

Of course, now I’m obsessively playing Fallout 4 and the Elder Scrolls Online.  Playing Skyrim, or any game is far more rewarding than reading this crap.  It’s not crap because it’s leftist…it’s crap because it’s lazy and stupid and only really amounts to feminist atheist propaganda.  Who fucking cares if the Mort invades the Tearling?  I was kind of hoping they would…maybe the people of the Tear wouldn’t be so utterly pathetic then, and that they might have some decent weapons or something.  Shit, I hated this book.