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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Game Of Thrones With A Feminist Twist

The Queen of the Tearling  - Erika Johansen

Game-Of-Thronesesque with a slightly feminist agenda, this debut novel set in a post-apocalyptic society where only faint remnants of technology exist and magic is the most significant force, generates tremendous pace in its opening chapters and had me thoroughly gripped.

The story focuses on Kelsea, heir to the kingdom of Tearling, who has been brought up in hiding by foster parents after the assassination of her mother. The action begins with the arrival of her mother's guard to bring her to the palace where by law she should assume the throne now that she has reached the age of nineteen. However, hot on their heels are her uncle, the regent's, hired assassins.

The trouble with this story is that, ultimately it, fails to deliver. The author sets up a compelling clash between Kelsea and the ruthless necromancer who rules the neighbouring land of Mortmesne but then abandons her own climax, settling instead for a lesser conflict between Kelsea and one of her own officials who is in league with Mortmesne. With the real villain side-tracked, the plot gets bogged down and the narrative becomes tediously preachy, telling the reader what it ought to show.