• Beneath the Keep

  • A Novel of the Tearling
  • By: Erika Johansen
  • Narrated by: Mandy Williams
  • Length: 14 hrs and 49 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (32 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“A suspenseful, multilayered tale of how the sparks of revolution are kindled, and of those who strive to ignite them.” (Cassandra Clare, number-one New York Times best-selling author)

As a kingdom descends into darkness and new alliances are forged under fire, a battle begins over a prophecy that will change the course of history in this much-anticipated stand-alone prequel to the best-selling Queen of the Tearling trilogy. 

The Tearling, founded as a utopia, has collapsed and reverted to feudalism. As the gap between rich and poor widens and famine threatens the land, rumors of a prophecy begin to spread: a great hope, a True Queen who will ascend and save the kingdom.

But rumors will not help Lazarus, a boy on the verge of manhood, trapped in the clandestine underworld known as the Creche. Enlisted from his earliest days to kill without mercy, he has never seen sun or sky, not until a quest for vengeance propels him above ground. There he finds a calling amid a royal court rife with intrigue and danger, where he meets Niya, Princess Elyssa’s handmaid, who is not who she appears to be and whose true identity will spell death if revealed.

With a righteous rebellion gathering inside her kingdom, Princess Elyssa finds herself torn between duty to the throne and her growing loyalty to the Blue Horizon, a group of fierce idealists who promise radical change. Elyssa must choose quickly, for threats beset her on all sides, and the powers wielded by an uncanny seer and her shadowy master are preparing to decide the Princess’ fate for her. It is only a matter of time before Lazarus, Niya, and Elyssa will be called into the service of something greater than they have ever imagined: the fight for a better world.

©2021 Erika Johansen (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A many-layered tale of intrigue and revolution, Beneath the Keep adds new depth - and not a few surprises - to Erika Johansen’s acclaimed Tearling trilogy. The prequel deftly sets the stage for Queen Kelsea’s reign, as factions jockey for power over the throne and an uprising gathers in the shadows. A must-read for fans of the Tearling!” (Helene Wecker, New York Times)

“Johansen delves into the forces that tore the kingdom of Tearling apart in this captivating prequel to her Queen of the Tearling series.... Johansen pulls off an impressive feat in crafting a spellbinding prequel that works just as well as a standalone…the steadily building tension carries the story forward. New and old fans alike are sure to be taken in.” (Publishers Weekly)

"The story considers the nature of forgiveness, the use and abuse of power, and the morality of right and wrong as characters develop in unexpected ways. The dramatic climax will have readers questioning who the real hero is at the end of this compelling tale of epic fantasy. Series fans will be intrigued to discover the background details of individuals who are pivotal to events in the trilogy, and those new to the series will want to find out what comes next." (Booklist, starred review)

What listeners say about Beneath the Keep

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Well written, but depressing

In this prequel we learn the history of why Queen Elyssa’s rule is the horror that it becomes....how Arlin Thorne and Brenna became so powerful...and the depressing and very unjust way of life for the majority of the people in the Tearling. Other reviews have said this story is repetitive...it is in the sense of doom and gloom...but there are some shining moments and a few heroes...Christian...aka Lazarus/Mace and Nya.
Although the narrator is excellent, the story is not as good as the other 3. Still, it does give good insight as to how/why the characters and story are as they are at the start of the first book, and the weight/price that is on Princess Kelsea from her birth.

2 people found this helpful

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Continuity

Having read all of the Queen of the Tearling books, I was excited to learn more about the characters that played such a massive role in Kelsey’s reign. Didn’t love the ending of Fate of the Tearling, hut that’s beside the point. My issue is that some of the backstory the author creates here doesn’t tally with what’s written in the very next book. Call me crazy, but if you’re reading the prequel then chances are you’ve read the rest. If I noticed discrepancies, how did the author miss them? The editor? Overall a good book but frustrating in the context of the over arching story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • MS
  • 02-24-21

Disappointed

I loved the Tearling trilogy and was very excited about this new book. I even pre ordered it so I could start it as soon as possible. Unfortunately this book is horrible. It is inconsistent with the story of the other three books. It is repetitive as well - she repeats things over abs over. I recommend the original trilogy but as far as this addition aa a prequel I recommend throwing in the garbage and ignoring it.

1 person found this helpful