**There maybe a few minor spoilers in this review**
First of all, our Cousin Sarah has good taste in books because I really enjoyed this series. So thank you Sarah for the suggestion. I’m sorry that I waited so long to read it.
One of the themes I got from this series is how past shapes our present and our future. As someone who has a degree in history I really appreciate that. The saying of “those who don’t learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them” maybe cliche but it’s also true. History is littered with examples of forgetting or ignoring the past and then surprised when the results are the same. Look about what is going on today. Many of the same rhetoric that is being said on both side of the aisle have all been said before. There have been so many correlation between what is currently going in the United States with what lead to other Countries descent into authoritarian regimes. Agree or disagree that is the direction the US is going, one must be a little nervous with what they are seeing happening around our country. Right now is the perfect time to look back at our past and see what we can learn.
The Tearling was founded by William Tear and his followers by leaving the United States that had fallen into Martial Law and extreme poverty. They crossed the Atlantic and through a mysterious portal to land in the “New World” to start an utopian society where everyone was equal. No one was more important then another but this was never truly the truth in practice, even from the beginning of their new colony. William Tear always stood higher then everyone else even though he tried not too. His opinion was enough to sway an issue to right or the left. He was the King without the title. You add the people’s unwillingness to talk about their pre-crossing life led to the downfall of the society after only one generation. They failed to learn from their own past. They felt that had moved beyond the troubles of their past but when things fell apart they resorted back into the old habits and fear that lead the downfall of the past and again fell part again. Three hundred years later, Kelsea inherits a country with very little assets and has the traffic it’s own people to a neighboring country to survive. The people are mostly illiterate and live in poverty. The ideals of William Tear have long been forgotten. Kelsea with the help of the Mace, try their best to right the wrongs of their past but with little army and even less of a treasury she is fighting an uphill battle. Kelsea is not perfect herself. She is young and inexperienced. She has a temper on her that makes to make rash decisions. She was also left in the dark about her own countries history, particularly the resent history that she has to learn about her people as she rules them. She makes some great decisions but she also makes some terrible mistakes. Which is important because it is sometimes to easy to make the protagonist to perfect. It would be very easy to make Kelsea a saint, bringing her country back to it’s former glory but Erika Johansen doesn’t do that. Nor does she give us the perfect happy ending either but I’ll get to that later.
The Tearling is a curious place. It takes place in the future but is clearly a Medieval society. They lost most of their medical supplies and doctors in the crossing and 300 later they still haven’t developed any technology. They don’t even have a working printing press. The Horror! They do have a little bit of magic. Kelsea also inherits two sapphires that give her abilities to see into the past and powers. The ability to see into the past and the future help her but also make things a bit tense. She starts to have visions of the past through two women who helped shape the early Tearling. She sees how life was before the crossing and how the Tearling fell. She struggles to figure out how the past is supposed to help her but she knows it’s important. As her kingdom starts to fall apart and those who are most loyal are starting to question. When she finally figures out what to do it’s ruthless and brave that runs head on into doing not knowing what the outcome will be. In the end *spoiler* she does bring back William Tear’s vision for the New World even though it’s not how she imagined it. It’s very bittersweet that accomplished what she set out to do, she righted all the inequality the country had suffered through but it left her a little alone in her victory. Then again, who knows what the future will bring for Kelsea. Maybe all we have to do is gleam into her past to see where Kelsea will go next.