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No spoilers in this review of The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. I give it 4.5 stars! I read several bloggers who didn’t enjoy the ending of this book. While I can see where they’re coming from, I thought it was fantastic. Was it surprising? Yes. Were parts of it bittersweet? Yes. Will I contemplate it for a long time? Yes. That is basically the exact formula for a series-ender I will love. I wish I could tweak one small detail about the very end, and then it would be close to perfect for me. If you want to know what that detail is, ask me in the comments and I’ll be spoilery there. 😉

The book opens with the Fetch, who has always seemed important to the overall storyline but was largely absent from book 2. It then picks up right where book 2 left off, with Kelsea held captive by the Red Queen after sacrificing herself in exchange for three years of peace for the Tearling. The Mace, the Fetch, and their men are at the Keep working on a plan to rescue Kelsea. While Kelsea is held prisoner, she is contemplating her long-term goal: how to restore the embattled Tearling kingdom to its former glory. Past and present mingle once again as Kelsea tries to figure out how to accomplish this.

STACY’S BOOK RATING
I give it 4.5 stars overall.
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Just when I think Johansen has too many characters to properly juggle, she introduces several more. The most noteworthy is Katie, another leading lady whose story is intertwined with Tear history. And Johansen doesn’t disappoint: She has created so many characters I care about, new and old alike. I feel deeply invested in each of their narratives almost immediately upon introduction, even with the seemingly minor characters. They are each important as she weaves the tapestry that is the Tearling story. I rooted for so many of them to get their moment of honor and redemption!

I think the time Johansen has taken to unravel the complicated story of the Tearling made it that much more satisfying in the end. In the acknowledgements, she thanks the readers for their patience in letting the Tearling be “a gradually unfolding world, full of lost and often confounding history.” I adored how the past and present were both needed to tell the full story.

My only complaints are the one small thing I wish I could change about the very end of the book as well as some fundamental differences I apparently have with Johansen as far as views on society. It took me until the final installment, but I discovered I don’t agree with her views on religion or government/politics. I choose to overlook these differences, however, in favor of her incredible story.

If you have read the first two Tearling books, book 3 is a must-read to see how the story ends. If you haven’t started this series, I highly recommend it! One caveat: This is an adult book. The main protagonist is nineteen, but the language and adult situations definitely push it out of the YA realm. This is not meant for young readers.

One final note pertaining to the future of the Tearling world: From a Mugglenet interview I found, it looks like this isn’t the last we’ll hear about the Tear kingdom. Johansen says there are several characters who have more story to tell. With the way this book ended, I can’t imagine who they might be. I will look forward to anything else Johansen gifts us with! I also eagerly await movie news, as Johansen confirms there is a script in the aforementioned Mugglenet interview.

Let us know what you think about The Fate of the Tearling in the comments! No spoilers on this page please. 🙂

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The Fate of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling #3)


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10 thoughts on “Rapid Review of The Fate of the Tearling”

  1. Hello!
    I just finished the final chapter and some of it left me confused. I would appreciate it if you would explain to me, why Tearling history tells that Row Finn killed Jonathan Tear, when at the very end it tells that Katie became possessed of something and attacked Jonathan and killed him? Who killed him, Row or Katie? And what Katie possessed by Lily? This was very confusing to me. I am looking forward to your reply!
    Thank you ,
    Nina

    1. Sorry I’m just now seeing this! For some reason the website didn’t send me an e-mail notification about the comments. I want to warn everyone that what I’m about to write is a ***SPOILER*** for The Fate of the Tearling…

      Kelsea re-wrote history. In the old history, Row killed Jonathan Tear and then Row lived on in some sort of a cursed state. Kelsea knew Row had to die to give her people a chance at a better life, so she altered history. She used the magic of the Tear jewel to travel back in time. Although I don’t understand exactly how, Kelsea (who had transformed to totally look like Lily by the end of book 2, except for her eye color) emerged from Katie’s body and killed Row. I’m not exactly sure why Jonathan had to die the second time around except that maybe Row was going to be able to steal Jonathan’s power before she could kill him. That last part is just a guess, though.

  2. What is the detail you wish you could change?

    I enjoyed the book but I was disappointed in the end. The last page did not feel like an ending to me and I was confused when there were no more pages.

    1. I want to warn everyone that what I’m about to write is a ***SPOILER*** for The Fate of the Tearling…

      I feel like this is a “love it or hate it” type of ending. Kelsea sacrificed everything (literally EVERYTHING) to save her people. She didn’t realize how much she was sacrificing at the time to re-write history, but I tend to think she would’ve done it anyway. She is going to have to pay the price for the rest of her life by building a new life from scratch. I think Johansen wanted us to feel the loneliness and sadness her choice created. Yet at the same time she made Kelsea such a strong character that she left us with the sense that she’ll be able to do it because of this strength.

      I fall into the “love it” category. I like an ending that shocks me entirely, which this certainly did. Yet there is one thing that I would change so we could be left with a little more hope that Kelsea will be happy in her new world. I really, really, REALLY wish Pen (aka Andrew) wouldn’t have been married. I didn’t even need to see the beginning of a relationship between the two. I just wish the possibility would’ve been there. I wish Kelsea could’ve bumped into him and a little spark would’ve been apparent between the two of them. Then, after I finished the book, I could imagine my own eventual happy ending for the two of them.

      I hope this isn’t something petty and small. Sometimes I feel like it is, yet other times I feel like it’s a HUGE deal. Do you agree or disagree? Would this strengthen the ending, make it slightly happier, or at least make it feel more hopeful to you?

  3. Just finished the book now and felt like I had so many unanswered questions. I really didn’t like the end – it felt too easy to me? Katie kept thinking that the ‘corruption’ in the town went further than Row (which I suspected to be true) so it just didn’t work for me that killing him and having Katie stay in the town was this magical solution to almost all their problems… Just felt rushed and lazy? Especially since Row was imprisoned/cursed after killing Jonathan by Katie so he could only really effect the world through others (eg. Red Queen)… I see why Kelsea would feel it would solve the more immediate problems in her time (vampire children, red Queen/slave shipments etc.) but to have allowed the tearling to get so much further towards ‘utopia’ without Row lurking around seemed a little far fetched? Surely a new constitution and government could only go so far?!

    Were there still people who had gifts from the crossing in the altered future? (eg. Andalie/Glee/Brenna) sad not to see any mention?

    Tear attempting to go back to ‘find more doctors’ (basically a suicide mission?) seemed out of character to me… Did I misunderstand him? Did you feel this was out of place? Also he ditched pregnant Sarah and fell in love with Lily based on some vague vision he saw of her? Wtf?

    How did Row figure out how to make time travelling sapphires? What really happened on the failed expedition when he came back starved? Katie felt that most of his tale was true but I couldn’t figure out what we were supposed to believe happened?

    Did you feel that the crossing was explained? How did tear find the original sapphire? He mentions he talked to his own relatives through it so has it been in his family for a long time before the crossing? How did they get it? It’s obviously from the tearling but I thought the tearling is another world only accessed via the sapphire? Maybe I missed something? How did he know how to do the crossing?

    Why did Kelsea begin to transform into Lily in book 2? I see how it neatly worked out for her when she appeared to Katie as it made Katie trust her but why did it happen? Why didn’t she begin to transform into Katie when she was looking through her in this book? I know she felt a bit plain but it felt like she had come to terms with her looks before she started to transform so I don’t really believe it was her desire to be ‘pretty’

    I think I know why Jonathan had to die though – he was seen as too special/different in the town which was disrupting the ideals of the utopia where everyone has their own equal value etc. Etc.

    Right now feeling really disappointed but hopeful that I might muddle through some of my questions and make more sense of the ending as I really enjoyed the books until I finished. I hope she hasn’t left these as unanswered in order to sell a prequel because that feels a little cheap to me… Help!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Molly! You brought up many things I was thinking when I finished the book plus a few things that never crossed my mind. I’ll try to address them all as best I can. Warning to readers…There will be **SPOILERS** throughout my comments below:

      Row and the corruption in the Town–
      This is one of the points that hadn’t really occurred to me. I agree that discontent and perhaps even corruption was setting in before Row. To me, he seemed to become the leader of it all, though, especially through the church. I agree that it is a little far-fetched to assume that with him eliminated, utopia could be achieved. But my thought on this is that maybe everything in the new world isn’t as good as it appears on the surface. We only see Kelsea’s first glimpse of the new history she created. While it does seem better than the turmoil in the old history, I wonder if there are other issues and problems that Kelsea will discover once she has lived in the new reality a little longer. I suspect that this is the case, and maybe that’s what Johansen is going to address in the continuing story of several characters that she mentioned in the Mugglenet interview I reference in my review above.

      Who else is/isn’t there in the new reality?–
      This is something I wondered about for sure! While Johansen showed us what the Mace and Pen, the first two people I immediately wondered about, are up to, I wonder who else is out there. We know Carlin, Elyssa, and Father Tyler are. But who else survived the change? It is safe to assume that some relationships didn’t develop in the altered history, thus some of the people we knew in the old world were never born in the new one. Does that include the Red Queen, Andalie, Glee, Brenna, and others not mentioned? Again, this is something Johansen might address if she writes additional books (or at least novellas) set in this universe. Or maybe it’s just something we’re left to imagine for ourselves. And if these ladies are still around, would they have the gifts they had in the old history? I tend to think they would since the Crossing and the events leading up to Row’s death were the same. But I’m not sure. Great question!

      Tear’s out-of-character behavior–
      This is something that bothered me, too, especially how he abandoned pregnant Sarah because of the future the sapphire allowed him to see with Lily. It seems to go against what he was trying to instill in his new society and against all other life choices he made throughout the series. Was this Johansen’s intention all along…for Row to be Tear’s son? Or did she throw this in at the end of the series, a scenario she could only create by William Tear doing this to Sarah? I simply don’t get this element of the plot!

      While abandoning the town to find more doctors seems foolish, I can excuse this one a little more easily. Johansen showed us the guilt Tear felt about his one big mistake in the Crossing. He should’ve never had the medical staff all on one ship, and now that this poor choice affected the woman he loved as well as his unborn child, I can see why he took off like he did. It was unwise, no doubt, but also understandable, in my opinion.

      Row and the sapphires–
      This one confused me until I discovered he was Tear’s son. For a reason Johansen never explained to us, the Tear family (and only the Tear family) could wield the magic in the sapphires found on this island. So I don’t think he made them as much as just discovered the raw gem. With his metalworking skills, he could use them to form the necklace and the crown, but I think the only reason the jewel’s ability was usable/awakened was because Row was a Tear.

      I am trying to remember about that mission you asked about. If I remember correctly, they were stranded (maybe because of weather?). And I think Row was brutal enough that he was going to survive at all costs, even if he was the only one remaining, until he could make it home. So he hoarded the food, didn’t mind harming or killing the others with him, etc. And he did kill the leader of the expedition, right? Didn’t we eventually discover that? I’m sorry I can’t remember this section better!

      The Crossing–
      This is another set of questions that plagued me. A friend and I finished this book on the same day and immediately talked about it. These were my primary questions for her, the main things I felt Johansen should’ve explained but didn’t: Why are the sapphires magic, how did Tear’s ancestors get the first one, and how did William Tear find the island? My friend came up with a good possible explanation to these questions, in my opinion. She thinks the Tears were initially from this island. For some reason, they all had to evacuate, thus leaving the island abandoned. But they took a magic sapphire with them and handed it down to their ancestors through the years. The sapphire retained its magic, and generations of Tears were able to see the past and future through it. This would explain how the sapphires made it to the “real world” and how William Tear could see the island and decide to attempt the Crossing. This is, of course, total speculation, but the only way I can make the sapphires, the Tears, and the Crossing work in my brain. 😉

      Kelsea’s physical transformation–
      I don’t think Johansen really explained this. We know that Kelsea and Lily became very tied to each other in book 2, Kelsea experiencing Lily’s memories and Lily even hearing when Pen and/or the Mace called to Kelsea trying to wake her. So their realities and fates were tied through the necklace, but that still doesn’t explain why Kelsea started to look like Lily. She was tied to Katie in book 3, yet she didn’t start looking like her. But when Kelsea climbed out of Katie’s body at the end, I had an “aha moment.” I think it was a storytelling device that Johansen had planned all along. Row saw Lily, someone he knew and thought had just died in childbirth, emerge from Katie, and it scared him enough that he paused. The fact that it was Lily’s face gave Kelsea the time she needed to kill him. Maybe? Otherwise, I’m not sure of the purpose of the transformation.

      Jonathan’s death–
      I like what you said about why he had to die because I struggled with this point a bit. The only thing I could figure out was if he lived, Row might’ve had time to steal his power and then Kelsea wouldn’t have been able to re-write history. My idea was a long-shot, though, and I like your idea better! 😉

      I really appreciate your comments and have enjoyed thinking over all the questions you posed. I think there are many unanswered questions out there, and I am quite intrigued to hear that Johansen will be writing more in this world. Will all of the stories be in the new history? I hope so! I think she owes us that. Any stories in the old history aren’t important since that timeline doesn’t exist anymore.

      Even with the dangling questions, I really enjoyed book 3 because I love a twisty ending and adore being shocked like that. Even more than that, I love thinking about a ruler who would sacrifice everything (literally EVERYTHING) for her people. Kelsea didn’t realize she was doing it at the time, but I tend to think she would still do it even if she had known. I REALLY felt the loneliness Kelsea was feeling in the altered world. What a hopeless situation! Yet I think Johansen built her as a strong enough character that we can have confidence that after she gets over the initial shock of it all, she will survive and perhaps even thrive in the new world. If only Pen wasn’t married, then we would have a little hope for a touch of the past. I sure wish that was the case!! It would make the ending a lot better for me!!

  4. Do you think when Carlin says at the end of the book “Kelsea, where have you been?” that this hints at Carlin knowing who Kelsea is from the previous version of their life together?

    1. When I read this line the first time, it didn’t strike me this way. But I think it’s a good theory! And I’ve seen other people mention something similar on Goodreads. I thought if anyone would remember, it would be The Mace. But Carlin is also a good possibility. Or maybe Johansen just threw this line in to really make us wonder! 😉 Thanks for sharing your idea!!! 🙂

  5. Overall, I liked the series. Some things that I didn’t like was the ending…I liked that her actions had long-lasting consequences but I’m a fan of the protagonist getting the big win in the end.
    Normally, I’m not a fan of time-travel except for a few instances (Back to the Future and Days of Future Past) but this one wasn’t so bad, especially with the aforementioned sacrifice.
    I would assume when they make these movies, they’ll probably ‘happy’ it up a bit at the end, but otherwise, a good series.

    1. I agree it’s a good series! 🙂 I hadn’t wondered whether they would make changes to the storyline, especially the ending, in the movie. But now you’ve got me thinking! 😉 I’m not sure how I would feel about major changes. I hope Johansen retained some control when she sold the rights so she can have a say in any changes they propose.

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