To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable - naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne. So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea - and the Tearling itself - will be revealed...
The Fate of the Tearling closes with the author acknowledgements, as most books do. What makes this one different is that it's the first I've seen that contains an almost-apology to the readers. It's unusual, to say the least! But contains a warning that not all answers are given in this series. And the author is not kidding. There are so many unanswered questions, so many dangling or unresolved (at least satisfactorily) plot threads and things that made absolutely no sense!
Unfortunately, the present day story doesn't fare quite so well. There are so many disparate characters, including new ones who seem to bring nothing to the stroy (Jeval anyone?) that the central characters from the last two books get lost in the mire. What happened to my beloved Pen?! He's mentioned about twice, once drunking and crying over Kelsea, and once more telling her that he can't be around her anymore (their "relationship" is one of the many plot threads that feels like it's been short-changed), and that's it! Poor guy gets about two pages of book time! Things get a little better in the second half of the book when the ranks are thinned a bit, but it still feels like the main plot from Queen has faded rather than being enhanced. After two books of teasing, the reveal of who Kelsea's father is was indeed the damp squib I was expecting. It's revealed in a throwaway sentence and has no bearing on the rest of the story.
I absolutely loved Kelsea Glynn in Queen. She kicked ass and took names, not afraid to stand up for her beliefs and her people. The scene where she gets coronated with a knife in her back was an act of utter badassery! After becoming a pale shadow of her former self in Invasion, I was happy to see her snap out of her funk and be a bit more like the old Kelsea. Unfortunately, she doesn't get many opportunities to show off here, what with being imprisoned for most of the story, but it did remind me why I fell so in love with the first book.
The ending could be a redeemer for you, depending on how you like your twists, but for me, I just found that it came out of nowhere and was confusing as hell! I had to read the final three chapters about three times to work out what happened - not to mention how, and I'm still not 100% sure I got it right! Time travel is a tricky beast to get right, often leaving more questions than it answers, and, unfortunately, that's what happened here for me. It also meant the the big showdown that I was expecting between Kelsea and the mysterious Orphan is completely glossed over and robs the book of the dramatic showdown ending I was looking forward to.
Taking away my issues with the story, I still love Erika Johansen's writing. She's without a doubt a fantastic storyteller, and paints a vivid picture with just a few words. I really think that if the story was tighter, I'd have rated this book much higher on the strength of the writing alone. It's not utterly flawless though. There were two appallingly written sex scenes. They were just . . . weird. They came out of nowhere, were confusing as hell to read (I had to read them a few times to confirm that sex had actually occured) and were about sexy as being rubbed down with a raw chicken. I'm not sure what tone the author was going for, but it did not work. And, I'm sorry, but if you've never had sex before and someone abruptly "shoves" themselves inside you with no warm up, you don't immediately orgasm, you have to be prised down from the ceiling!