“𝐃𝐞𝐬𝐩𝐚𝐢𝐫 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐜𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐟 𝐢𝐧 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐞 𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐫𝐦𝐲 𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤. 𝐀 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐤𝐞𝐧 𝐬𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐛𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞, 𝐚 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐧𝐨 𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐬, 𝐚 𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐦𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐨𝐬𝐞. 𝐈𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐮𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐨 𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞.”
- Release : September 22nd 2020
- Publishing house : Orbit
- Series : Chronicles of the Bitch Queen
- Pages : 596
- Illustrator : Simon Goinard
If you wish to read my review of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, head here
Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worse as she stumbles upon a plot deeper and more sinister than she could have ever imagined, one that will displace her king and see her son dead. The road home beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and unimaginable horrors – creatures from the dark, mad dragons and men with hearts hungry for power.
To save her land, Talyien must confront the myth others have built around her: Warlord Yeshin’s daughter, symbol of peace, warrior and queen and everything she could never be.
The price for failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.
Queen Talyien :
She is the beating heart of the story. The other characters were also great but Queen Talyien shone more. On the outside, she is a force of nature but on the inside, she’s a mess as all along the book, she suffers from the ghost of her father telling her to behave this way or that. Her whole education was both something great and bad. On one hand, her father’s education shielded her from her people, from her country but, on the other hand, she was shaped into the strong-willed character she is. She is struggling to follow the world being turned inside out ( even for us readers, because there are a lot things happening !)
» You keep saying that I ought to have stayed behind and yet you never really did stop me. Your brother means something to you, Lord Huan – that much is clear. Outside of all these structures, our clans, our regions, we exist as people, don’t we ? Forget these wolves, these falcons, civets, anchors, oxen… whatever images and words we use to give ourselves our worth. Who we are, who we care for, that’s enough, isn’t it ? Even if it doesn’t serve the nation ? »
Behind her mask of politician trying to outwit her opponents and of warrior trying to protect those she loves, there’s Talyien, the woman, the mother who’s been having a hard time to be herself behind the social expectations.
Villoso does a great job at playing with her characters. She makes them experience tough situations, she challenges them and no one is spared ! She reveals what they are made of at their core.
“In my world, love was a drawn sword. You could use it to cut others or you could use it to cut yourself.”
Stuck in the Zarojo Empire, Taylien has to cross the ocean to get back to her country, Jin-Sayeng in order to save her son. But once in her land, other dangers threaten the balance of the country.
Villoso succeeded in creating a really in-depth world with warring cultures whose politics, religions and beliefs bump into each other. The attention paid to the details of the different cultures really is substantial. Almost every town or cities have something different from the other. While in The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, we explored the Zarojo Empire, here we get to know a lot more about Queen Talyien’s realm. Her writing is really great because it conveys the raw emotions of Talyien and the other characters. She makes them feel human. It conveys the difficulties faced by the characters and it conveys the uniqueness of this world.
« If only we could drift through life unfettered, and not feel. If only. »
The fantasy elements play a great role in the book as we learn that the magic is threatening the world because it corrupts the living. We also learn the limits and how it shaped the world.
As to the pace, I would say The Ikessar Falcon is as fast paced as The Wolf of Oren-Yaro. In this book, we discover a lot more cities and parts of two empires while battling enemies and tainted creatures. We learn more about the power dynamics between the different clans and some of the reasons why the clans have been squabbling between each other. Each territory is shaped by the warlords and the history. There are, of course, slower moments to help maintain the balance and to give us a breather.
The Ikessar Falcon is a more than worthy sequel in which we get – and she gets – to know her own realm. It’s incredible how Villoso created a complex story in terms of politics, relationships, history and characters.
You can also read my interview with K.S. Villoso here