Let me just start by saying that Villoso knows how to write an awesome blurb:
The spiral to madness begins with a single push.
Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worst 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 to Jin-Sayeng beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and unimaginable horrors that unearth the nation’s true troubles–creatures from the dark, mad dragons, and men with hearts hungry for power.
To save her land, Talyien must come face-to-face with the worst enemy of all: Warlord Yeshin’s daughter, symbol of peace, warrior and queen, and everything she could never be. For the price for failure is steep, her friends are few, and a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.
Even better, she knows how to write an awesome book. The Ikessar Falcon skillfully interweaves complex character arcs, intricate worldbuilding, and political intrigue with an epic plot that doesn’t relent.
One of the central themes in this book is family. Talyien, Queen of Oren-yaro, may have fallen from grace and uncovered an evil plot that could completely change the face of multiple nations.
And yet, the beating, bloody heart of the story is the journey of Talyien, daughter of dreaded warlord and mother to the next king. She strives to live up to her father’s expectations while slowly coming to terms with seeing him as both a monster and a man. And even though her quest to return home is largely about saving her nation from a mad sorcerer, saving her son is the foremost thing on her mind at all times.
Bypassing the dreaded “second book slump,” Villoso has managed to write a second book jump. All the character work and personal focus from the previous book is still there, but the plot explodes into one of epic scale. Magic zombies, ghosts with a habit of possessing people, and insane dragons all play a key role. The Wolf of Oren-yaro pulled the rug out from under me, twisting my expectations of what the story was actually about. Somehow, this book manages to pull that off again.
Readers of The Agartes Epilogues will be happy to see several easter eggs throughout the story. Certain characters (and boats!) make an appearance, and the infamous Agartes is even mentioned once or twice. For everyone else: don’t worry. No prior knowledge is needed.
I want to point out just how great the cover art is. The dragon insanity is readily apparent, and the stylized art technique sets this cover apart from many others in the genre. The subtle shift in perspective showing Talyien from behind feels symbolic of both her return home and attempt to deal with her past. And the colors…well, I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that artist and writer Ash Navarre knocked this one out of the park!
All in all, this was a fantastic read that left me eagerly awaiting for The Xiaran Mongrel next year!
- Fans of Robin Hobb and Kate Elliot
- People who read for the characters
- People who love intricate, unique settings
- People who like political plots with many factions
- People who appreciate the little details (like food…lots of food!)
- People who enjoy first-person stories
- Reviewed on /r/Fantasy
- Non-Western Setting
- Published in 2018
- Fewer than 2500 Goodreads Ratings
- Author Writing Under a Pseudonym
- RRAWR Author
- Previous Squares (dragons, sequel)