Review of The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Oh, my heart.
I have so many emotions surrounding the final installment of the Tearling trilogy.
Heading into the Fate of the Tearling, tensions between Mortmesne and Tearling are at an all time high.
The Red Queen is loosing control over her kingdom. Kelsea is a prisoner. The Mace is reluctantly in charge. And we have two strange immortal beings lurking around that have yet to fully identify who and what they are.
It’s hard to talk about anything besides the ending, because my feelings are 100% tied to the conclusion. But before I get to that, I do want to quickly mention a couple things that I did enjoy:
- Several burning questions were answered, and we finally learn the origin of the Sapphires and what powers they possess.
- The relationship formed between Kelsea and her aunt ended up being, in my opinion, integral for Kelsea’s character development, and does tie up earlier conflicts quite nicely.
But as I neared the end of the book, I was increasingly anxious. Why? Because things weren’t getting resolved. If anything, plot lines became more muddled.
At one point I actually sighed, knowing there were not enough pages left to satisfyingly conclude the trilogy.
MAJOR SPOILER: The ending we are given is a time-travel reset, allowing society to grow as William Tear intended. Through the power of the Sapphires, Kelsea is able to change the past, which caused everything from that moment forward to be erased.
After she saves the day, Kelsea returns to her present and finds a very different world, where she is the only one who remembers this alternate past.
When I finished the book I was pretty upset. I thought it was a cheap way to end the series and that the characters deserved better.
It seemed too easy and left me with all sorts of crankiness.
But then I reflected and realized that as much as I hated to admit it, the ending actually did make a lot of sense.
Throughout the entire trilogy, there is a huge emphasis on the importance of learning from history and correcting past mistakes. I mean, William Tear literally led an exodus of people across an ocean in attempts to create an advanced, utopian society.
But he failed, and so Kelsea was fated to correct his mistakes.
As we learned more about the Sapphires, it was clear that they were always the driving force sparking change.
In the Queen of the Tearling, we watched as Kelsea wielded great powers from the Sapphires.
Looking back, we can now see that in reality the Sapphires manipulated Kelsea into doing their bidding. It was through their direction and foresight that anything of significance occurred.
In the Invasion of the Tearling, Kelsea is able to do incredible things with the Sapphires, but they didn’t work for the Red Queen. Not because she wasn’t powerful, but because they didn’t need her.
They always wanted to correct the past. They wanted to fulfill Tear’s dreams. And Kelsea allowed them to achieve this.
HOWEVER: knowing this does not make me feel better about the ending.
I feel like all the characters got a big slap in the face.
All their pain, suffering, growth…was for NOTHING.
And everyone forgets their past lives except Kelsea? So now she’s punished for saving everyone?
She has just gone through an incredible amount of trauma, but because none of it ever actually happened, she can never really move past it. There is no way for her to resolve any of her inner personal conflicts.
That’s a terrible fate, and one she does not deserve. It makes me, well, sad.
I am all sorts of conflicted about this one, because it isn’t the ending I thought we would get and it isn’t at all what I wanted. At the same time, it does make sense, and it does conclude the series.