First and foremost I want to thank Shealea for the having me on the Blog Tour for The Ikessar Falcon. After participating in her last tour for the first book The Wolf of Oren-Yaro and finding my new favourite book I was over the moon when I could join this tour as well. Also thank you to Caffeine Tours and Orbit for providing me with a copy of the book!
Title: The Ikessar Falcon
Series: Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #2
Author: K. S. Villoso
Expected publication: September 22nd 2020
by Orbit (first published June 14th 2018)
Genre/Age Range: Adult Fantasy
Source: ARC-copy provided by publisher
Death (of a loved one), violence, war
The Bitch Queen returns in The Ikessar Falcon, the action-packed sequel to K. S. Villoso’s acclaimed fantasy debut, The Wolf of Oren-Yaro.
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.
I’d recommend reading my review for book 1 first:
Blog Tour Review + Fav Quotes: The Wolf of Oren-Yaro
Firstly, I want to be noted that The Ikessar Falcon has a recap in the front of what happened in The Wolf of Oren-Yaro?? I love it when books (especially high fantasy) have that! So bonus points for that!
And now … uff, how to properly explain what this book made me feel. I don’t think I can put into words how much this story and its characters touched me, held me captive and just … The Ikessar Falcon and The Wolf of Oren-Yaro are so dear to my heart and honestly, after reading this sequel … I have to say there in my Top 5 of all-time favourites! They just made me feel so much, go through all the emotions and physically feel them!!*
*So, expect a lot of gushing
I read the first few sentences and I was immediately back with Tali, Queen Talyien. I adore her so much! I loved how we got to experience all her thoughts and doubts alongside her. It made me love her even more, something I did not think was even possible.
She really is in a tough situation here with everything that happened in the previous book. The whole atmosphere of desperation, hope and these few golden moments of freedom and laughter sprinkled in between. Ach, the heartache!
Queen Talyien didn’t have an easy life, at all, and she is still dealing with her complex feelings and memories regarding her father and her upbringing. But she also has to witness what she did have growing up and how vastly different the lives of others are. It’s amazing to watch her experience the world and the fates of other people.
She always knew that actions have consequences. That everything you get, someone paid a price for. It’s her normal. In her world of backstabbing, bickering warlords and betrayals … and the contrast that with people like Khine who grew up so differently. And him seeing what her world is like … that’s the good stuff! This book expands on not only Tali’s backstory and upbringing, but her relationships with other people and consequently their stories. We learn more about Khine as well, little snippets here and there.
The price for Zarojo citizenship. I had to wonder, though, what was so awful about living in Jin-Sayeng that people were willing to brave the sea and live out in dirt and grime here instead. You’d think the ruler of Jin-Sayeng would know
I loved being back with all the characters. Lo Bahn actually became one of my favourites here, I really enjoyed his conversations with Tali. One thing that I appreciate immensely about Villoso’s characters is, is that she doesn’t shy away from showing the ugly side of humanity. None of these characters are free from sin, they make mistakes, grave ones sometimes. It’s what makes them feel so real and also what makes me feel so much for them and what they have to go through.
It was really interesting to read more of Rayyel, to get to know his thinking and his perspective in things. There was one conversation between Tali and Rai in particular that I adored. Rai is explaining why he thinks what he is doing is the best thing and Tali truly tries to understand and just … can’t. It’s so well done and I want to say so much more but can’t.
World-building & Writing
I’m very much a character-driven reader, as long as the characters are intriguing I can forgive a lacking plot or bland world-building … but even if I didn’t like the characters here, both the plot and world-building are so well done, complex and intriguing. I loved that we got to go back to Jin-Sayeng in this sequel, although it was fascinating to kind of get an outside view and to experience the country first through all the differences Tali encountered when travelling through the Empire.
K.S. Villoso really has a way with words. She perfectly balances introspective scenes with world-building and action scenes. It’s always exactly what the story and the reader need next. As I said, I loved that we got to explore the world more. The contrast between the different settings and how the people there react to them was fascinating to read and I could have honestly, read pages more just about Tali and Khine travelling and seeing and experiencing new places.
The world in this series is so rich and vibrant, and I feel like I could paint all the cities and villages (that is if I could actually paint …) and the political machinations, the different parties with their own hidden agendas … it was phenomenal. There are just so many small details that paint such a clear picture of how the different regions they come from affect their personalities, their way of thinking …
[…| the best thing he could do at the moment was humiliate me. It was a chilling thought. But the joke was on him. His Zarojo propriety didn’t understand Jinsein pride.
The book is, just like its predecessor, a character-driven story but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a engaging strong plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat, glued to the pages and unable to stop reading. The character arc and the plot go seamlessly hand in hand. Without one we wouldn’t really get the full potential of the other. The Ikessar Falcon has a lot of introspective scenes where Tali has to find out who she is and who Queen Talyien is. And who is Yeshin’s daughter. How can she be all of them?
But there is also so much action happening. Tali (and the reader) never has a dull moment, never can truly relax because the next catastrophe is just waiting around the corner.
Mistakes pile on top of each other, decisions made long ago throw their shadows and people who shouldn’t have control over current events are still the puppeteers with the strings in their hands. Difficult decisions have to be made and honestly, most of the times there is no good option. Just different paths going straight for the next mistake. I loved witnessing Tali’s reasons for what she does and what influences her.
Recommend for …
Everyone. Again, I can’t tell you how much I love this book.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a plot-driven or character-driven reader, you will find what you’re looking for in this series. The world is vast and intricate, with lot’s of political warfare, backstabbing and betrayals. Tali has so many expectations from everyone around her and everyone is judging her every step. She has to be perfect and no one is ready to forgive her mistakes while they do exactly what they are criticising her for.
The characters are all so real, complex and flawed. They all have their own unique way of looking at the world and their own aspirations and agendas that clash with each other.
And I can’t wait for the next book!!
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.