« 𝐖𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐎𝐫𝐞𝐧-𝐘𝐚𝐫𝐨 𝐭𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐮𝐬 – 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐨- 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠, 𝐚 𝐟𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐧𝐨 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐫𝐮𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐧 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐜𝐡. […] 𝐖𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐬 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭, 𝐬𝐞𝐫𝐯𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 »
- Release date : February 18th 2020
- Publishing house : Orbit
- Series : Chronicles of the Bitch Queen
- Number of pages : 496
- Illustrator : Simon Goinard
- Book 2 : The Ikessar Falcon
« I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me. »
Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come.
But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.
Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.
Queen Taylien : Heiress of one of the most important and powerful clans, her education was rigorous : she knows a lot about history, swords, etiquette, politics and so on. Such an education left little place for entertainment, and she does not have any friends because they were too afraid or too boring. Despite her rank, she is resourceful when it involves getting out of the castle to wander the city.
Taylien is a complex character, but I would use a word to describe her : « passionate ». Her actions and choices are often out of emotions and not out of reason. That’s why you’ll find some of her actions infuriating despite all evidence pointing to the opposite. All along the story, she is beset by doubt, fear, anger, love, regret, despair, loneliness and she has to navigate these emotions to prevent her from being killed or raped. Her choices fit her personality because she has yet to find herself, at heart she is just a little girl who does not know anything of the outside world and how to interact with people.
However, I absolutely adored her wittiness and her scathing remarks. I loved the scene at the beginning at the restaurant. She is never at a loss for words. I’ve felt that such words acted like a shell to protect herself from others while she only wants people she can trust and create good relationships. But her past experience with people and her inexperience with relationships, she is afraid of people getting close to her.
“Our special for today is pork bone stew,” the manager said. “Pork bone stew sounds excellent,” I said. “Rayyel could use a spine.”
“I found it hard to believe that Rai used his charm to pull off such a feat—the man was about as charismatic as the bottom of a chamber pot.”
Sometimes, I did not know if her dedication for her husband was out of duty or love. The peace holds just because both factions succeded in finding a compromise. She fears that without Rayyel, a new civil war will tear her country apart. She thinks about her people first as a queen should do.
The story is all about Taylien learning about herself : how to be a good queen for her people, how to create meaningful connections, how to be a good mother, how to control her emotions. She has been living in her father’s shadow, will she be able to get away from it ?
After the War of the Wolves opposing her father and rival clans, both factions came to a compromise by marrying the heirs of their clans : Queen Taylien and King Rayyel. They represented hope to usher the country in a new direction. However, her husband disappears without any explanation and she is left alone on the throne, trying to prevent the warlords from going to war with each other while rebuilding her country. Devoted to her duty, she accepts the meeting set up by Rayyel in another country across the sea. The meeting goes awry when assassins plunge the room into chaos. Barely escaping alive, and separated from everyone she knew, Queen Taylien must survive in a land full of betrayals and hostile to her. She will have to be a wolf to out the truth.
At the beginning of the book, we learn that Queen Taylien inherited a mess of a country because of the war and the dragon-related accident. This country has warlords and they don’t give their authority over easily. Even when she is crowed as the Dragonlord, she has difficulties winning the trust of her people. This is partly due to her being the daughter of a violent monarch. Her people say that her clan seized power for themselves and that they banished her husband. Apparently, it runs in the family.
“Even after I became queen, the rumors continued. I was powerless to stop them. I should have been more, they said. More feminine. Subtle, the sort of woman who could hide my jibes behind a well-timed titter. I could have taken the womanly arts, learned to write poetry or brew a decent cup of tea or embroider something that didn’t have my blood on it, and found ways to better please my man. Instead, Rayyel Ikessar would rather throw away the title of Dragonlord, king of Jin-Sayeng, than stay married to me.”
The story mainly takes place in the empire across the sea called the Zarojo Empire. And this Empire sure is inhospitable ! During her months there, she escaped several assassination attempts, she got away from being a prostitute and from being married to an Emperor’s son. Needless to say, that the book was full of actions ! These events were peppered with scenes of food, of culture that added to the world-building. I’m always a sucker for Asian-inspired worlds. The cultural differences between the countries were very well established and interesting to read about.
The book has a lot of suspense and twists. It is not until the very end that you understand who is responsible for her predicament. You also learn the reason why Rayyel left Taylien a few years ago. And that reason is just about his pride, the guy is ready to throw away the peace created by both factions just for that. War may break out because he did not respect the agreement struck and his country may be seized by the Oren-Yaro, but it does not seem to matter to him. I thought, thanks to the flashbacks where we learned more about the way he was, that he would have been a better person, one who would strive for his country.
I’m looking forward to reading the second book, The Ikessar Falcon and discover what K. S. Villoso has in store for us !