Cover Image: Beneath the Keep

Beneath the Keep

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Member Reviews

I've been trying to go back to my older books in my Netgalley TBR and my reading preferences have changed so much that I couldn't make it very far in this one. Just wasn't quite working out for me.  At this time, I'm no longer interested in this title. Thank you for the opportunity to read the book and I apologize for the inconvenience.
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Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen was an incredible book and I couldn’t put it down! This beautiful story gave us more insight into the world of the Queen of The Tearling while also giving us wonderful new characters. I highly recommend this book!
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Thank you NetGalley and publisher for the ARC! Very well written novel, as is customary of Erika Johansen's work. I loved her Tearling trilogy. While this book was well-written and I was interested in the characters, I do wish that the author would have instead focused on starting a new adventure either after the Tearling events or within the same universe, but with completely different characters that are not a part of the original trilogy. This is a prequel, so if you have read the Tearling series, you know it is a rather somber read. Do I recommend it though? Absolutely.
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Review: 4 Stars

I requested an ARC of Beneath the Keep because I was really interested in reading The Queen of the Tearling. When I got a copy of this prequel I decided it was time to read the original series and I wound up binge reading the trilogy. While Beneath the Keep could probably be read first or as a stand-alone I would recommend reading it after the trilogy because it really added layers to the original story. I think it will be appreciated best when you already know the characters. I was a little nervous starting this because I didn’t like the way the trilogy ended, but since this book takes place before the trilogy my issues with the ending didn’t really affect my experience with this book.

Beneath the Keep was a really fast read for me, which was great because I had some issues with the pacing of the original trilogy. It is a prequel, but it is a full length novel and has a solid plot. I really enjoyed learning more about characters I loved from the trilogy and also getting to know some of the new characters. Mace has a huge role in this book and this installment added so many layers to his character. Seeing how his backstory shaped him into the guard I loved in the trilogy was really interesting. I also really loved how his character grew throughout the course of this book. When we first meet him he is young and a bit naive and he started to become a cold and morally grey killer. But by the end of the book he has become a truly honorable man who fought for what was right. I know a lot of fans of The Queen of the Tearling were excited for this prequel because Mace was in it and those fans won’t be disappointed.

I also really liked that we got to know Elyssa, the mother of the main character in the trilogy, because before this book we hadn’t seen much of her. Another thing I really loved was that we got to see inside The Blue Horizon rebellion and The Fetch made a few appearances as well. Several questions that had been left unanswered by the original trilogy were finally answered and a lot of the puzzle pieces finally fit together. For the most part I really enjoyed this book, but I’m not sure how much I would have enjoyed it if I hadn’t read the original series. I feel like there was a lot of character development and the plot kind of fell to the background.

I really enjoyed this prequel and I’m super glad that getting a copy finally pushed me to read The Queen of the Tearling trilogy. I felt like this book really added a lot to the series. I don’t read a lot of prequels typically, but I loved this one. If you are a fan of the series I highly recommend you check out this prequel that focuses on the previous generation.
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I loved the original tearling series and wanted to love this one as well...but just didn't. I still bought a copy for the library since I have so many Tearling fans!
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I’m going to start off by saying this is nowhere near perfect. This book was never going to have a 'happy' ending, as such, because it stops where the Queen of the Tearling begins - in an unjust, cruel world. And while the original trilogy had its dark moments, Beneath the Keep didn't hesitate to get darker still. There were some truly bleak scenes in this book (which never felt gratuitous or gory), and it would have been easy to get lost in depression. Yet the thread of hope that persisted throughout the book was very powerful.

Overall, a very satisfying prequel, cleverly written, and it has definitely made me want to reread the original three books all over again. Probably not one I would recommend as a standalone though - I think it works best in answer to the Tearling books.
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Beneath the Keep, by author Erika Johansen, is a prequel to the Queen of the Tearling series. In the beginning, 17 ships left the old world for a new destination. 16 made it to their destination and thus, Tearling was born. That journey was called the Crossing. Nobody has come close to what William Tear and his people accomplished long ago. Many have tried to ear down his ideology which is how we got to this point. Did they travel to an alternative reality, or a new planet? Today, in a futuristic world called The Tearling, humanity has reverted to the dark ages. 
 
The capital city, New London, is home to a palace and ruling monarchy, as well as a dark underworld which exists below the city. Tear's idea of a perfect utopian has been lost to everyone except one particular group called Blue Horizon and perhaps 21-year-old Crown Princess Elyssa Anne Raleigh who is heir to the Kingdom. With help from Lady Glynn who went missing, Elyssa pictures a world where there are no rich or poor. A world where everyone is equally valuable. Tear once wanted to eradicate narcotics, human trafficking, bigotry, illiteracy, ignorance and organized religion.  
 
Queen Arla the Just is ruthless and rules with an iron fist. Change won't come as long as she is in charge or with a powerful witch and her master whispering in her ear. Elyssa actually had a heart and soul of her own, a goodness the world was not ready for. Elyssa had to decide if she'll continue the ruthless rule of her mother, or have the audacity to become the prophesied True Queen destined to bring about a more just world for all. Through manipulation and witchcraft, the good Elyssa is essentially killed off leaving her a shell and pawn of those wanting power and the throne. 
 
Those who have read the Queen of the Tearling series are aware of who Elyssa is but now you get to finally understand how Kelsea came into the world, and the extraordinarily means by which people stood up and protected her from her birth until she reached the age of Nineteen and come become Queen. In an underground ghetto called the Creche, a boy named Christian becomes a fighter named Lazarus who becomes a palace guard named Mace who we all know and love from the Queen of the Tearling series. Leading the Blue Horizon is the mysterious masked figure called The Fetch.  
 
With Queen Arla treating people like animals, even animals find a way to strike back. Those like Aislinn, a local farmer’s daughter, who starts a revolution after her entire family is slaughter for her disobedience by the owner of the land they are assigned to work. Then there is Niya who is Elyssa dame of chamber as well as a member of the Blue Horizon rebellion. Niya plays a huge role in getting Kelsea to safety. One of the more interesting questions of the Queen of the Tearling series was the identity of Kelsea's real father. Read the book or the spoilers if you must know.

As the ending comes to a close, Mace understands that a darkness is coming and Arlen Thorne controls the strings. A shadow of indifference has spread over the country and many many people have died as a result of the machinations of a few. 19 years from this ending, a new Queen will rise to fight the darkness. Apparently, for some reason the author closes the book by saying, "when we finally get back to Kelsea (not too long now)." Not sure what the point of writing another story is especially how the Fate of the Tearling ended.
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I loved the Tearling trilogy so I was really excited to see that Johansen had written a prequel novel.  This met my very high expectations and filled in gaps in characters and plot that I didn't realize I needed.  Gritty, heartbreaking and full of love, loss, and hope, Beneath the Keep sucked me into the world of the Tearling and didn't let me go (and honestly I'm still thinking about this days after I finished it).  A wonderful addition to one of my favourite fantasy series.
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I loved the Tearling series and "Beneath the Keep"  was a perfect addition. Rebellions, unrest, prophecies, and magic combine to show the struggles when a utopia goes awry.
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Even though I didn't read any of the previous titles in this series, I found the characters to be charismatic and well defined.  I will go back and start at the beginning so I can fully appreciate the author's writing talents.
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For my pure reading enjoyment, this was more a three-star read, but I’m guessing that’s in large part because I couldn’t quite remember what actually happened in the Tearling books. I’ve read them, and yet, almost none of the backstory felt familiar. This is the type of prequel you definitely have to read after the main story and not before. Too much unexplained.

With that said, the different points of views were nice. It’s a book explicitly wanting to discuss power and politics, and I enjoy that in my fantasy. I think, though, the obsession with stolen, abused children was a bit much, with it being brought up a lot.

Cw: rape, pedophilia, assault, death, gore, drugs, addiction
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I read and enjoyed this book. There were aspects that I didn't love but overall it was an excellent read.
An author I will keep an eye on for sure.

Thank you so much for allowing me to read and review your titles.
I do appreciate it and continue to review books that I get the chance to read.
Thanks again!
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Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy of Beneath the Keep.

I absolutely devoured the The Queen of the Tearling trilogy when I read it years ago so I was excited to see a prequel arrive. It was nice to revisit a world that I had loved and to see how characters developed into future versions of themselves. Unfortunately, because of the many years that passed by, I struggled with remembering a lot of details from the original trilogy and found myself googling characters and events. Once I let that go and decided to just enjoy the novel, I found it much more enjoyable. I also found the second half of the book more interesting and loved the ending.

Beneath the Keep alternates through many different viewpoints which I find slows down a story, especially when there are so many different characters. I was happy to see the Mace, and learn a bit more about Fetch, and it was heartbreaking to see how Elyssa turns from a passionate, caring princess, to the vapid Queen.

Well written, thought out and detailed, I would recommend reading the original trilogy before you dive into this one. I wish I’d done a reread, I feel like I would have enjoyed it so much more.
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This book was extremely well done! We learn so many things and thank goodness I didn't clue in to who some of this characters are in the Tearling series because it would've made this book harder to read.

Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for providing me with an arc for an honest review!
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This prequel to the Queen of the Tearling trilogy was very insightful. It gave me a better understanding of Kelsea's mother and her guard Mace. I never truly understood why she sent Kelsea away to become a better Queen while not making any changes to improve the kingdom herself. Now it all makes sense. I even saw some similarities between Kelsea and her mother that made me truly believe they were related. I enjoyed getting to know Kelsea's father who we know very little about it the original trilogy. We also get to meet a girl named Aislinn, who has had enough of working on a nobles farm only to see her family starve.

The plot surrounds a rebellion and a dangerous seer with her own agenda. A drought and lack of food pushes more and more people to join the Blue Horizon rebellion. Even Alyssa tries to learn more about them and their cause but the changed she wishes to make to help her people are crushed under power hungry forces who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the Tear Sapphires. The insidious threat of the seers mind control kept me on edge. The story starts off when Mace is just a little boy so we get to see him grow up as an underground fighter to eventually become part of royal guard.

I'd definitely consider this an adult fantasy as it gets very dark and involves a bunch of trigger warnings involving children. We got a better picture of how life in the Creche was like for Mace and the other children sold there. The utopia William Tear had envisioned has fallen far from its original purpose. The oppresion festering in the kingdom felt a lot like history repeating itself. On top of the corrupt church we have the nobles who are draining the kingdom with their opulence and complete disregard for their people. Even though I had some idea how it would end I was still very invested in the story and would recommend it to anyone who loved the original trilogy.
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I received this book as a thank you for filling out a survey and chose it as the one most probable to be interesting to me. After reading 18%, I will not be completing it or reviewing it because it is full of bad language. The book also has many viewpoint characters, and only two of them appeared (in their POV) more than once so far. I found it difficult to bond with any of them due to this lack of steady development, plus I only found one character very interesting. The focus seemed more on the overall story than on the individual characters. They were simply the way to show what was happening. I'm more interested in stories that develop the characters. Still, thank you for the opportunity to view this book.
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Beneath the Keep is the prequel to the Queen of the Tearling series where we follow a few characters for the year before Princess Kelsea is born.  I just recently finished all of the books from the series for the first time and loved them all so much, I knew I needed to get my hands on this prequel when I saw that it was not a short story.  We mainly follow Princess Elyssa , Lazarus, Thorn, The Fetch, The Rebellion, and a little of Prince Thomas. 

We are going to start with complaints because I only have one real one. I did not like the narrator.  I picked up the audiobook on my own as this is how I had read all of the previous books, and once again we got a narrator change.  She felt unemotional and lifeless.  I still ended up really enjoying the book (as you can tell from my rating) but that was with me struggling to ignore how the narrator was telling the story.

My not real complaint is this story wasn't what I was expecting/wanted.  You find the reason that a lot of the characters in the three original books are the way they are or make the choices them make, but I felt like they were already perfect characters that changing their motivation didn't help me enjoy this world any more.  My main thought on this is Kelsea's mother, Queen Elyssa.  We get to see a lot of how she because this person the people hate, but I didn't want to like Elyssa, or have her be anything more than a vampent queen only caring about herself and her looks. This world allowed for so many types of people and I felt like it was great to have both the good and the bad in power, but now with this addition of the prequel, your made to view some of the bad as more good.  But this was me fulling putting my expectations onto a story that I did not write, so I view it as not a real thing to complain about.

Now let's discuss the good.
The Writing
The Cruelty
The Characters
The Hopelessness
THAT ENDING
Answers to questions the original series left us
Having more of this world

I'm going to have to bullet these because once again I fell in love with this book and would sit here forever writing about why it is amazing, when I really just want to tell you to go read it!

This book would be appropriate to read after finishing any of the previous ones, you don't need to have finished the series.  It does have lots of trigger warnings and is an ADULT fantasy.  I highly recommend if you like anything by Erika Johansen.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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Unfortunately, I decided to DNF this one early on. As I haven't read the previous books, I felt out of the look and disconnected from the story. That being said, what I read was interesting and I would return to this book at a later date after I read the original series.
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This was such a great prequel to the original story! It sets everything up so well. Now, it feels like the series is officially over, but I don't want it to end.
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This is a prequel to the Tearling trilogy the author created. The trilogy is about the rise of the True Queen to rule over Tearling, a land somewhere in a future time. The Tearling was founded as a utopia but has collapsed into a feudal society with different factions vying for control. This prequel sets up the political and social structure that allows for Queen Kelsea to fulfill the prophesy they are all striving to. Wonderful characterizations, some twists and some valuable information make this book an interesting read. If you have read the trilogy , reading the prequel felt a bit redundant but there where many enlightening facts about the characters that influenced the future Tearling. It was an interesting read.
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