Princess Kelsea is the heir to the Tearling throne, but she is raised in isolation and taught by a couple who were loyal to her mother, Queen Elyssa. When she turns nineteen, the Queen’s Guard arrive to take her to the capital; it is time for Kelsea to take the throne. She is unprepared for the difficulties that await her; she is not familiar with the political maneuverings of the royal court, nor is she aware of how her uncle, the regent has been ruling the kingdom. And most notably, she is not familiar with her enemy, the Red Queen of Mortmesne, who possesses control over a fearsome, dark magic. Kelsea learns that the blue stone necklace she wears around her neck is one of the Tearling sapphires, a jewel of great power. The jewel has a twin, and this is also for her to control, if only she knew how to do it. Kelsea must learn a great many things very quickly if she is to save her kingdom. With the support of the Queen’s Guard, led by the stoic, yet resourceful Lazarus, she at least stands a chance of surviving.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked it because Kelsea is a strong female character, and is not looking for her lost love to save the day. Her relationship with Lazarus, the captain of her guard, is based upon the growing respect they have for each other, and seems likely to turn into a real friendship. However, as a reader of fantasy, I pay a lot of attention to world building, and in that regard, this book is lacking. The first half of the story is much stronger than the second. We get some new characters telling things from their point of view about at the midway point, and somehow, when the viewpoint changed to the minor characters, the story lost focus for me. This debut is the first of a trilogy, and I can hope for improvement in the second book. The movie rights for this book have already been sold, and Emma Watson is already rumored to be signed on for the role of Kelsea. For that reason alone, this book will be a best seller.