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 home beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and impossible 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 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 of failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.
Welcome to my stop on the Ikessar Falcon Book Tour, hosted by Caffeine Book Tours. I’ve been a huge fan of the Chronicles of a Bitch Queen series ever since I’d gotten my hands on The Wolf of Oren-Yaro back in 2018 (review here). It’s a huge honor to get the chance to participate in this book tour and promote this fantastic sequel!
I received a ARC of this book from the publisher Orbit Books as part of the Ikessar Falcon book tour by Caffeine Book Tours. All thoughts are my own
Having read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro during it’s tradpub release in 2018, I was more than excited for it’s sequel. We finally get Rayyel!!!! We get more politics, and more scheming, and more delicious delicious food description that make you super hungry as you read and leave you wishing you were a better cook. While Ikessar Falcon is a chonk at 220k words, I was absolutely not left disappointed.
As people who follow me on Twitter may know, Rayyel, Tali’s estranged husband, is my favorite character in this series. That was established during Oren-Yaro before the man actually got any screen time and has carried on through this book as well. His calm resoluteness is such a fantastic foil to Tali’s constant panic and when the two of them manage to not bicker (too much), they’re one hell of a power couple together. In some ways, Rayyel acts as one of Tali’s secondary antagonists given actions from their past but the way Villoso writes him is so sympathetic and damn interesting that like, it’s fine. Rayyel endgame, yes?
Rayyel simping aside, we also get to see a lot of development with
Tali’s two side hoes Tali’s other two companions, Khine and Agos. In particular, I love the direction Villoso has taken Khine. Originally a care-free seeming conman with a tragic backstory, throughout the events of Oren-Yaro and learning that this cool female traveling companion that he may or may not lowkey have a crush on is actually a queen does things to a man. Bad things. That lead to stupid decisions but make plot more interesting. How much more will the poor man suffer? Who knows. Agos on the other hand, is a goddamned sweetheart that deserves so much better. I joke about the two of them being Tali’s side hoes, but Agos is actually Tali’s go-to “oh no I have the feelings gotta fix this” man and the guy just willingly goes with it? My dude. Treat yourself better. Of course, between these four, there is some absolutely fantastic banter that goes on, quite memorably with Agos’ constant mocking of Khine’s and Rayyel’s inabillity to swordfight.
I was delighted to realize that in book two, we’d be returning to Tali’s homeland. From Tali’s internal musings and the various tidbits we pick up in book 1, I was absolutely fascinated with the seemingly hot mess that was Tali’s reigning country, between Tali’s own difficulties with governing and the power struggles between the various warlords. I love good political intrigue and Ikessar has that in spades.The warlords we did meet were each fascinating in their own way, each looking out for them and their own, but also not necessarily hostile to Tali either. Of course, we’re only on book two and I’m highly looking forward to this political mess simmering in the backdrop.
As a quick side note, there are dragons in this book! Real, (fire) breathing, dragons!
Plot wise, Ikessar is split in kind-of two arcs, divided by Tali returning to her homeland to rescue her son. Prior to this is wrap-up of some loose strings from book one, then a quick gamut around the countryside to establish some overarching villains for the rest of the trilogy and to learn more about Tali’s inner turmoil over her father, Rayyel, and most other things. The pacing for this section was extremely slow and frankly, I found it a little boring and repetitive. We get it Tali, you’ve got daddy issues. There was just enough action spliced in between that I wasn’t uninterested at all, but I definitely thought there were sections that could have been cut without affecting the overarching story, or the reader’s understanding of the characters.
Post-arrival is the next 60% and was much more action-packed, faster paced, and also much more lore heavy. Why did the dragons go mad? Who exactly are all these characters and what are their motives. What is this forbidden magic and how does it work? How has the political climate of Tali’s homeland changed over the almost year she was gone? One thing I did wish we got more of was the changes that occurred during book one. It’s suggested that each of the warlords seem fairly self-sufficient in their governing, but surely any country missing its head of state for that long must have gone through some degree of turmoil and while that was addressed slightly from a Warlord’s perspective, I wish we got more of it from The People’s perspective. The latter half is also where our dragons start appearing!
Overall, I rate this book a 4/5. I adored the screentime Rayyel got this time around, and I think the central four Tali, Khine, Rayyel, and Agos, were all fantastic and well explored. Villoso deftly balances dark humor, banter, and a plot with serious themes. My only complaint would be the slow pacing in the first half..
About The Author
K.S. Villoso was born in a dank hospital on an afternoon in Albay, Philippines, and things have generally been okay since then. After spending most of her childhood in a slum area in Taguig (where she dodged death-defying traffic, ate questionable food, and fell into open-pit sewers more often than one ought to), she and her family immigrated to Vancouver, Canada, where they spent the better part of two decades trying to chase the North American Dream. She is now living amidst the forest and mountains with her family, children, and dogs in Anmore, BC.
/r/Fantasy Bingo Squares
- Novel by a Canadian Author
- Novel Featuring a Ghost
- Novel Published in 2020
- Feminist Novel (hard mode)
- Novel by a Canadian Author
- Romantic Fantasy / Paranormal Romance
- Novel Featuring Politics