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Tess of the Road

Narrated by: Katharine Lee McEwan
Length: 16 hrs and 15 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

Non-member price: $53.64

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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning Rachel Hartman's newest YA is a tour de force and an exquisite fantasy for the #metoo movement.

"Tess of the Road is astonishing and perfect. It's the most compassionate book I've read since George Eliot's Middlemarch." (NPR)

In the medieval kingdom of Goredd, women are expected to be ladies, men are their protectors, and dragons can be whomever they choose. Tess is none of these things. Tess is...different. She speaks out of turn, has wild ideas, and can't seem to keep out of trouble. Then Tess goes too far. What she's done is so disgraceful, she can't even allow herself to think of it. Unfortunately, the past cannot be ignored. So Tess's family decide the only path for her is a nunnery.

But on the day she is to join the nuns, Tess chooses a different path for herself. She cuts her hair, pulls on her boots, and sets out on a journey. She's not running away, she's running towards something. What that something is, she doesn't know. Tess just knows that the open road is a map to somewhere else - a life where she might belong.

Returning to the spellbinding world of the Southlands she created in the award-winning, New York Times best-selling novel Seraphina, Rachel Hartman explores self-reliance and redemption in this wholly original fantasy.  

Named one of the best books of the year by NPR, Boston Globe, The Chicago Public Library, Kirkus Reviews.

"The world building is gorgeous, the creatures are vivid and Hartman is a masterful storyteller. Pick up this novel, and savor every page." (Paste Magazine)

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2018 Rachel Hartman (P)2018 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"This achingly real portrayal of a young woman whose self-loathing takes help to heal is a perceptive examination of rape culture rare in high fantasy. Not to be ignored, this is also a fascinating road trip adventure. Absolutely essential." (Booklist, starred review)

"Like Tess' journey, surprising, rewarding, and enlightening, both a fantasy adventure and a meta discourse on consent, shame, and female empowerment." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"[A] rousing adventure set in a richly drawn world.... Newcomers to Hartman’s work will be every bit as enthralled as her fans with this companion novel to Seraphina and Shadow Scale." (Bulletin, starred review)

What listeners say about Tess of the Road

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Interesting world - struggled with liking Tess

Very interesting world with the different creatures. Did not like main character though - found her very depressing. Only listened to about half the book. Performance was good.

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A little slow in the beginning but a thrilling tale non the less

I loved growing with Tess through her self empowerment. I cannot wait for the sequel. I had not read serephena or shadow scale but I have just purchased them and cannot wait to see how she ends up.

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Drivel.

Perfect for slightly rebellious 13 year olds. If they're not particularly discerning. For anyone else, a lesson in his not to do it.

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  • T.S. White
  • 30-11-2018

Character Growth.

This book is not like the others. I loved Serafina and Shadow Scale, so I bought the "Third" book in the trilogy. This takes place in the same world, but is a very different piece of literature. It reads as surprisingly real. It has a determinedly chipper and upbeat pacing, and then sudden moments as though the sun has gone behind a cloud and you remember all the terrible things that exist in the world. The style of storytelling seems to match very closely to how the character is feeling and seeing the world. On top of that, I like Tess more and more as she grows. It's always mildly annoying when the main character has a Sudden change of personality, or when an author does some sudden form of personality retcon ("But Wait! They were really always good and mature at heart!" or "But the whole world was wrong, so she must have been right all along!"). Hartman doesn't do that. Tess walks along steadily, discovering new things about herself at every turn.

2 people found this helpful

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  • murph
  • 05-08-2018

A Fascinating Adventure . I listened twice

The characters and plot are engaging and compelling. My second listening experience was filled with details and nuances missed the first time. The ending is satisfying but I hope Tess's adventure continues in a second book. She is a character I would like to learn more about and her next adventure would certainly include the sea with a new and expanded set of characters, cultures and continents. Thank You Ms Hartman for a great read/listen and wonderful narration by Ms McEwan

5 people found this helpful

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  • A. Meade
  • 07-06-2018

Excellent!

Wonderful coming of age story. I especially enjoyed walking along side Tess while she grew into a beautiful and confident young woman.

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  • Ryan
  • 05-04-2019

Beautiful and Boring, Both.

I'm conflicted about it. Hartman pays attention to the little ineffable moments so beautifully it's life changing . . . but in starts and fits. Between those shining moments is a whole lot of nothing. The nothing is like the road Tess walks and that's extreamly effective. But I don't listen to audio books for long stretches of boring with a few revelatory moments; I listen for immersion, which this book just doesn't achieve. The book is amazing and mediocre, both. I recommend it if for no other reason than I don't know of other fantasy writers that achieve what Hartmann does here - maybe Leguin with Tehanu but that's different. Hartmann glories in the small ambiguous tragedies and intimacies of a complicated - and distinctly women's - life.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Kate Maxwell
  • 13-12-2019

Wonderful

I actually thought this was a better book than the related Seraphina tales. It is compassionate and asks big questions about right and wrong without too much thumping you on the head with it.

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  • Alexis
  • 05-08-2019

A wonderful story for women and girls!

I loved this story so much. I am not familiar with Rachel Hartman's other books, and decided to read this without knowing the world that the story took place in, as readers of "Seraphina" might know. But I don't think that made much of a difference in my experience. This is the story of a woman who has endured so much hurt and trauma, and who has to unpack so much of what she has been taught about herself her whole life. It is amazing and inspiring and so important for women and girls who have had to learn who they are outside of what has happened to them in life. Many sweet characters met along the way, and a bit of magic too!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-05-2019

Amazing.

This story moved me. Tess's journey is incredible and the issues of rape and society's standards on women are explored in a subtle, heart breaking way. Re-visiting some of the characters from Seraphina is a nice touch but the story is very much about Tess. The audio was great as well. I listened to it everywhere.

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  • FrosDad90064
  • 30-03-2019

Lackluster YA journey

I made it about a third of the way into before admitting to myself that I was not enjoying it, not did I think it would get better. I found the characters to be uninteresting and one-dimensional, with the possible exception of Seraphina. The writing lacks nuance and although aimed at a teen audience, it doesn’t trust its audience to be able to read between the lines and puts unnecessary exposition in the mouths of characters like Seraphina and Pathka. I feel bad for the characters having to live in this awful religiously conservative and misogynistic world, but I found it difficult to wish to follow this bratty teen’s journey through it. I think back to another bratty teen I didn’t like much: Harry Potter. I was never a fan of Harry himself, but was intrigued enough by the characters around him, the world they inhabited, and the growth they exhibited (well, many except Harry, who seemed to lack his friends’ capacity for introspection) to read the entire series. Goredd, Pathka, Jeanne, etc all lack the spark to keep me invested in the story. Also, I listened on Audible and was not really a fan of the reader. Part of the problem with her delivery could have been the clunkiness of the writing but her intonation and slow speech style exacerbated the issue. I had to check the player multiple times to verify I hadn’t accidentally set the speed to less than 1X.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lori B.
  • 27-12-2018

Beautiful Fantasy Book

It's not often I find myself moved by a book. It's so well written... To put it simply, this is a story of a woman who, in this book, slowly finds herself and her self worth. Who heals herself of her pains slowly and it's just so beautiful. It's hard to put into words how much I appreciate Rachel Hartman for writing a character like Tess. I can wait to read more of Tess in the future. In the meantime, I'm going to read the books about Seraphina. 100% recommend this book to anyone looking for a strong female main character in a (more realistic) fantasy setting.

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  • Emily Craig
  • 21-12-2018

Wonderful character development

I couldn't stop listening! She's such a captivating author! Tess is a delightful character with a deep and supremely endearing development. it's so easy to feel her growth and progress, and to rejoice in her maturation after wading through the dross of her life with her.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Whistling Woman
  • 11-09-2019

Just wonderful

A fully realised world with fully human characters who are simultaneously flawed and fantastic, as are we all. Oh, and dragons, Quigtl (sp?), Anathuthia (spsp???) and feminism, polyamory, LGBTQ++ (the extra + because who can even guess about saints and dragons and how they identify?) families, motherhood and the whole darn world. These books take very current issues and ideas and transpose them into a world of fantasy, thereby somehow holding a mirror up to our own society to help us see it more clearly by comparison. This trilogy is a masterpiece and a delight but I'd much rather that it didn't end here.The author's imagination is as tall and broad as the sky and brings forth wonders, monsters and the people down the road. And it's... wonderful. More, please.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Louise Mehl Bengtson
  • 21-04-2020

Refreshing!

Get this book if you want something a bit (a lot) darker, than the stereotypical romantic fantasy genre has to offer, and love a plot twist. This is by far my favorite book by Rachel Hartman and Katharine Lee McEwan reads it wonderfully!

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  • Gaming Mom!
  • 06-01-2020

Riveting!

It's been a while since a book gripped me this much, especially the second half, just couldn't put it down I was so desperate to hear what happened next! Please please let there be another one in this series. Such a rich and unique world, dragons yes but not as you've seen them before and new and intriguing creatures and myths. Love it.

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  • Susu Bird
  • 14-02-2019

Fantastic!

This is one of my all time favourite books. There is a perfect balance of adventure, fantastic storytelling, beautiful prose and insightful character development. This is a book that offers fresh vistas into the human soul and psyche, delivered through an engaging story with characters you might fall head over heels in love with.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-08-2018

I want the next one

In some ways this doesn't have narrative push of the others.,however great read and hoping for more