*Spoilers for the whole trilogy*
This has been the weekend of great cultural experiences. I finished The Fate of the Tearling, and I saw La La Land. I’ve been through an emotional roller coaster with both, so I don’t know if my review will make much sense. Honestly, my reviews never make sense, but I like to imagine they are endearing. Both book and film took me to another plane of human existence, and I will forever be grateful to them. On the surface the stories are not very similar, but when you scratch off the cover and cinema-scope, you are left with two worlds of fantasy that don’t necessarily end the way you want them to. Yes, I am building this book up at a grand level, but there is a long way to fall. I might as well enjoy it.
Fate is the third and final book in the Tearling trilogy. We follow Kelsea from her humble beginnings as a hidden princess to the queen of a dying kingdom. Erica Johansen creates a unique world with traditional, old world fantasy landscapes and modern day influences. Honestly, it is a wild ride, and when I realized that the people of the Tearling were essentially pilgrims from an alternate dystopian world, I about shit my pants. The Tearling is SO creative. The characters are tough but endearing, and Johansen, especially in this third book, really honed her craft at switching between perspectives. I found every story line and character very entertaining and likable, even at their worst.
I browsed a few reviews after finishing, and I have to be honest. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but some of you are completely wrong about the ending. I am trying to find the least offensive way of saying it, but you are so dead wrong. The ending was perfect, and though there were more neat, conventional endings that could have happened, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
(For everyone that doesn’t care about spoilers and are just reading the review, wanting to know what happens: Kelsea uses magical sapphires to go back in time to a critical moment in the Tearling’s past. She, along with the help of two women from the past, change history, this includes crawling out of one character’s mouth and killing (?) the bad guy, and Kelsea wakes up in a Utopian society. None of her friends remember her, and she is no longer queen because there is no royal family. I know, when you break it down to its simplest form it sounds bonkers. Trust me, though. Trust me.)
Kelsea makes a queen-sized sacrifice, and her isolation and depression at the end of the novel was real and heartbreaking. It’s very easy to write the ending off as cheap, but when you really think about all the struggles Kelsea has endured and the sacrifices she is willing to make for her country, isn’t losing her country and identity the hardest thing? We all have that selfish want for recognition for our deeds, but Kelsea’s whole life is gone. The people she cared for are happy and healthy, but they do not remember her. She is forced to live in a world of peace while a storm still rages inside of her, and finding that semblance of peace will be a lifelong struggle for her now. It appears to be a happy ending, a world without violence and greed, but Kelsea’s struggle shows that there will always be strife within. It’s an eerie ending that deserves further consideration, and should not be written off just because we don’t get all the answers and Kelsea doesn’t end up happy with Pen and the Mace (kind of still bitter about that, but I get it). Yes, we still don’t know what the fuck was up with those sapphires, but I am okay with that. I am okay with the ambiguity of the magic. Magic isn’t science, and it doesn’t always need Brandon Sanderson level glossaries at the end of the book to explain everything.
In conclusion: it’s not the ending that we wanted, but it is the ending that we needed. I will follow Erica Johansen to the depths of hell.