I picked this book out from our local library because I needed to read a "400 page or more book" from my book list. I took a look at some of the things some critics were saying and decided to give it a try.
The book takes place in the very distant future, but time seems to have reversed and gone medieval. Not because of time travel, but more because I believe something awful happened that set humanity back into the dark ages. The book mentions something called "The Crossing" that I am somewhat curious to know what happened. The garb the characters wear involves armor, crowns and head pieces; and there are also swords, horse travel, and primitive homes. There does seem to be some form of technology still around, but it is very rare. There is an evil Red Queen that rules her kingdom and other surrounding kingdoms with terror with the help of the "dark thing". That's another angle the book has, there is a mixture of magic and human sacrifice in the book.
There are some very evil characters, and a lot of human depravity in the book. The Queen of the Tearling is a young woman (Kelsea) that was raised by foster parents that trained her to become the next queen of a kingdom called Tearling. Kelsea's mother was not a very good queen and left it to her brother as regent until Kelsea came of age. Both Kelsea's mother and the regent did a horrible job as rulers allowing their people to be sold as slaves to the Red Queen through a lottery in order to keep her from attacking. Kelsea does her best to cement her rule with the help of a really likeable guard named Lazarus aka The Mace and the magic of her sapphire necklaces. She is destined to become a queen of legend.
To the Christian: I don't usually read these kinds of books, but regardless it was still a well written book. The author does well in developing her characters, and the plot is okay. I really don't like how the author represents the church - which she makes out to look very Catholic, and that somehow has returned to pre-Reformation days. Either the book is fantasy or it is not. There is a lot of magic in the book which I don't mind, but placing it in a dystopian-post American-era and then adding on top of that the Catholic church really didn't jive with me. Kelsea is an adamant atheist, the Church is obviously one of the bad guys, and the Bible is another religious book that only has good advice in it. I usually wouldn't mind reading some things like this if I am reading historical fiction set in the Renaissance, but in a sci-fi/fantasy book, come on! I get it, you hate religion - specifically the Christian religion. There is profanity and the violence and gore is descriptive. The Red Queen is an awful and evil woman and she sacrifices children to a dark force known as the "dark thing". There are several sexual references that are demeaning and shameful. If this was a movie, it would be rated R.
This book is the first book of a trilogy, but at this point I am not sure if I am that interested in reading what happens next. According to IMDB this book is in development in becoming a movie starring Emma Watson as Kelsea and as executive produce.
I really can't recommend this book. But if you like science fiction, dystopian or fantasy books with very strong female roles you may like it. I wouldn't like any of my teenagers reading this book.