The Queen of the Tearling: a swashbuckling fantasy of court intrigue and politics

queenoftearling The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
July 8th, 2014 by Harper (Fantasy)*

My rating: I’ll go there again! (4/5)

Everything changes the day the Queen’s Guard come for Kelsea. Raised in isolation for her own protection from assassins, she must leave her guardians, her books, and her forest to become Queen of the Tearling – if she can. Immediately, she and her guards are set upon by the most famous assassins in the world, and she begins the race for her life. The danger increases as she gets to the capital city to be crowned before her uncle, the profligate, dissolute Regent, can have her killed. While the Regent is her most immediate problem, he is not the only villain – the neighboring Red Queen has her eye on Kelsea, her country, and the jewels she wears.

Kelsea is young at only nineteen, but she has been highly educated by her guardians. Compassionate and ruthless, she has all the qualities that could make her a successful Queen of the Tearling, if she can survive it. Many people depend on her: her people who are shipped into slavery every year, her Guard, the starving serfs, and a thief who calls himself the Fetch. Along the way to her throne, she receives help from the Mace, one of the most formidable warriors in her Guard. The Fetch and the Mace are two very important characters in the story, although they are both shrouded in mystery (which I hope will become more clear in the next novel!). (more…)


Irenicon: Part Renaissance Fantasy, Part Allegorical Fantasy, All Interesting

46031_Irenicon_MMP.inddIrenicon by Aidan Harte
(The Wave Trilogy #1)
Published by Jo Fletcher Books, March 29, 2014 (Historical Fantasy)*

My rating: Beach vacation

Irenicon has so many different elements. Alternate history of the European Renaissance variety, steampunk fantasy, understated romance, superhero battles, magical water creatures. It also has elements of religious allegory.

This book tells the story of Captain Giovanni, architect to the Concordian empire, and Sofia, heir to the city of Rasenna. Their lives intertwine when Giovanni is sent to build a bridge over the wily Irenicon river in Rasenna, a city dominated by two gangs. Decades ago, the Irenicon was flooded by a mechanical device built by Concord, to depress the wealth and power of its rival. Lives, homes, and people were destroyed, and since then, two groups of tower-jumping gangs have ruled the north and south sides of the city. Sofia is approaching her 17th birthday, and the day she officially becomes Countess of Rasenna. Her position and birth  make her a powerful pawn in the struggle between the gangs, but she has plans of her own. Giovanni, disgraced architect of Concord, meets her when he arrives to build the bridge over the Irenicon. Though it is a symbol and tool of Concord’s dominion over Rasenna, and will be used by an invading army to pass through the city, Giovanni gives it a different significance – one of unity. As the bridge is built, politics in the city shift, power moving swiftly between the north and south sides. Outside Rasenna, Concord makes plans of its own, which are revealed as the plot advances. (more…)