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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.

640 pages, Paperback

First published June 14, 2018

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About the author

K.S. Villoso

20 books645 followers
I write character-driven epic fantasy with huge doses of horror, angst, and frustratingly tangled character relationships. You can read more about my work at my website:



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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 256 reviews
Profile Image for Tam.
79 reviews44 followers
June 28, 2018
The Ikessar Falcon is book 2 of K.S. Villoso’s Annals of the Bitch Queen. It picks up not long after the events of The Wolf of Oren-yaro, and while it’s still told from the same perspective, it is very different from its predecessor in terms of both scope and tone. No longer is everything about what Queen Talyien can lose: the stakes have been raised. It isn’t just her marriage on the line, but also her son, her people, and her empire.

Stuck on the opposite side of the sea to her people, Tali must make the perilous journey across the lands and oceans to return to Jin-Sayang. Along the way, she learns a lot about herself and her people. The journey involves several of the key characters from book 1, and we get the opportunity to see more of them.

We also learn a lot more about the world the series is set in. The worldbuilding is really well done, and as the characters travel it allows us to see the diverse cultures found in the different cities and towns. Sometimes the differences are smaller and more nuanced, and sometimes they stand out and loudly proclaim themselves. There’s also more about the mysterious Agan, and the magical phenomenon it can create, which includes but isn’t limited to magic, madness, and ghosts.

The story is once again told from Tali’s point of view; we see the world through her eyes and have the same information she does. We explore the memories of her youth and how she interacted with other characters then, and we see her learn about her new friends and what their lives were like. Much like with The Wolf of Oren-yaro, the other characters are built through Tali and how she views and interacts with them. While this can lead to a certain degree of unreliable narration, it makes them seem like real people coloured by the perceptions of the queen.

My personal favourite part of Villoso’s use of the first person is that it shows how and why Tali makes her decisions. You can see who she cares for, and how their joys, their worries, and their pains can influence her. Villoso’s character development is truly amazing throughout this book. Characters are brutally forced outside their comfort zones where they are forced to not only survive but to deal with some pretty hefty consequences for their actions too.

Tali has made more than one mistake in her past, and it seems that they all chose the most inopportune time to come back to haunt her.

Additionally, the plot has sped up a bit in this book as the scope continues to widen from what we saw in The Wolf of Oren-yaro. There are fights, magic, political manoeuvring and much, much more. Villoso had me on the edge of my seat for most of the book, eagerly anticipating what would happen next. And let’s not forget, the promise of dragons was delivered on, and it was amazing.

I really enjoyed this book, it’s stepped the story up a level from where it started with The Wolf of Oren-yaro, and has left me eagerly awaiting book three, The Xiaran Mongrel. There are a few small allusions to events from Villoso’s other books, The Agartes Epilogues. They’re little Easter Eggs rather than anything important, the few I picked up were just from knowing names of the books, but I did find it pretty cool.


This book is probably best for people who like:

* Character-focused books
* Political fantasy
* First person POV
* Female MC
* Twists and turns
* Dragons

For more reviews, check out my blog, The Fantasy Inn
Profile Image for Shealea.
448 reviews1,218 followers
September 18, 2020
Khine truly is the biggest simp to ever simp. I genuinely do not care about any of the other characters, including Queen Talyien. They can all rot. I just want Khine to thrive in Book 3 and get the happy ending that he rightfully deserves.

Full review to follow.
Profile Image for Frankie.
505 reviews129 followers
March 23, 2021
Putangina. Omg. I need a moment because I'm honestly really numb.

A full 5 stars to this goddamn 600 page doorstopper.

The Ikessar Falcon greatly improves upon the first book in every way possible. It's funny because this is exactly the type of novel I hate (an epic adult fantasy) and yet I devoured it like a hungry dragon. This should be on the Times list of 100 best fantasy books of all time. I said what I said.

While The Wolf of Oren-Yaro is a fast-paced, accessible adult fantasy about a woman being undermined by a world of men, The Ikessar Falcon is a dense, complex, and vivid journey about... everything else. Deeper, broader politics. Class differences. Sexism. The shortcomings of a ruling elite that knows nothing about the poorer masses that they govern. Love and duty being bound together in ways that are more tragic than romantic. And at the heart of it all is a woman who is just driven by love for her son.

While it took me a week and a half to read this (very long, for me), I wasn't bored for one minute. Do note though that this isn't easily bingeable. There is a lot going on in this novel and it can feel overwhelming at times. But it's still so good. Oh my god. No scene is wasted, not even when they're traveling or recuperating or hiding. Villoso, please teach me how to do this.

For me, however, the highlight of this book is the fact that you can tell that Villoso grew up in the Philippines and understands all the nuances of its culture, politics, and social issues. There are never any easy answers, never any simplistic cop-outs. While several references may fly over your head if you aren't Filipino, I think it's still really, really fantastic. Like, for real, I have never read a fantasy novel that explores class struggles as well as this. This isn't some basic YA bullshit where the corrupt ruling class is overthrown by the revolutionary peasants blah blah.. Nah. Tali, despite the constant misogyny she faces, is still a queen at heart, and her position does not allow her any peace. She doesn't know what it's like to be a regular person. She doesn't know what it's like to not be privileged enough that other people constantly keep suffering for her actions. This doesn't just affect her role as a queen; it also affects her personal relationships. My friend Sel wrote an excellent analysis slash Khine x Tali ship manifesto that explores how the class differences between Khine and Tali ultimately affect their relationship.

Oh god I don't even know what else to say. This book will make you want to bash certain characters' heads in. It will make you want to scream and cry. It will make you wonder why you have to keep suffering. But you'll still enjoy yourself, because you will realize that you are reading a novel like no other.

The worst part, honestly, is when I realized that I could no longer hate all the characters I despised. Because I got them. There really is no easy answer here.

You think you know what between a rock and a hard place means? You've never been The Bitch Queen.

TL;DR Read this series, please. The Ikessar Falcon has it all. Epic worldbuilding. Nonstop action. Teleserye-inspired but MMFF award-worthy romance that will hurt you so bad. A character arc that makes you root for the protagonist til the very end, in the hopes that for once, please I'm begging you, she'll find some sort of peace.
Profile Image for Holly (The GrimDragon).
1,048 reviews233 followers
December 16, 2021
“Call me what you want–irrational, careless, an idiot, even–every name you can think of. I know. I’ve told them to myself for years. When you internalize such thinking, allowing it to settle into your bones so deeply you know your own weaknesses to be a fact, it becomes a kind of foolhardy strength. Make of that what you will.”

The Ikessar Falcon is the second book, following The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, in the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen series by K.S. Villoso.

I truly believe that every series should begin with The Story So Far for each subsequent installment after the initial book. When writers include this, it’s just *chef’s kiss* Luckily, Villoso gives us a recap, because this is yet another series where I LOVED the first book, then last year happened & I just.. didn’t manage to continue on with the series as soon as I had hoped.

Kidding. I’m not that terrible, I only have so many spoons to go around, so sometimes I get behind on reviews. BUT I MEAN WELL!

The Ikessar Falcon is full of even more political fuckery & twisty plot developments, picking up almost immediately after the events in The Wolf of Oren-Yaro. I’m not going to say much about the plot, because whoo dang! There is *a lot* going on & to say too much would be doing the series a disservice. However, I will say that what is most evident about the series, what remains at the heart of the story, is a woman driven by love for her child, unconditionally.


“Queen Talyien and Tali are different edges of the same sword–one a mask, the other a woman.”

There was a review of this that made the rounds the other day where a PAID reviewer hadn’t read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, but was then PAID to read & review this book, the second book in a series. The reviewer went on to complain that the story didn’t make much sense. You know, things that relate to characters & events that would have made ALL THE SENSE IF SAID REVIEWER WOULD HAVE JUST READ THE FIRST DAMN BOOK! This is a character-driven, plot-heavy story & you’ve now missed out on essential backstory for this sequel. Of course there are instances where sequels can stand on their own, although those seem more & more rare. My point is, I’m shocked that not only did the reviewer in question miss such a glaring oversight, but that the editor did as well. And don’t get me started on the various other issues throughout that review, like the consistent misspelling of the main character’s name & mistaking the Philippines setting for England. I SHIT YOU NOT.

Enough attention has been given to that particular review as it is, so I’ll leave this here. Just.. do better, folks. We need to do better.

“We think we own these moments–that we can will time to stand still while we drink in these loves awhile longer, convinced that the forces of the world will bend their knee to the strength of our emotions. The truth is they are but a ripple in an ocean, a sprinkle of sunlight in a dark world–not ours to contain, not ours to hold as we please.”

Blood magic, mages, snake-men, fighting effigies, assassins, dragons– The Ikessar Falcon is an exquisite, mesmerizing story. Villoso’s worldbuilding is intricate & dynamic, her storytelling containing tremendous pain & righteous anger, her characters complex & deeply flawed. Every page is filled with swoon-worthy prose, non-stop action & glorious character development. Tali! Agos! Even Rayyel! AND OF COURSE MY BELOVED KHINE, WHO MUST BE PROTECTED AT ALL COSTS!! Is it weird that “Closer” by the brilliant Tegan & Sara would play in my head whenever Khine was in a scene? Because I adore him? And I would respectfully allow him to get closer to me? OMG I’M NOT SORRY!!


You killed me, K.S. Villoso, impaled me with a fucking sword! So many emotions. All of them.

(Endless thanks to Orbit Books for sending me a copy!)
Profile Image for Wol.
113 reviews42 followers
June 18, 2018
The Full Tome & Tankard Review and Custom Cocktail is available here.

At this stage it’s fair to say that I’m something of a fan of Villoso’s work, and after the absolute delight that was The Wolf of Oren-Yaro I was super excited to dig in to The Ikessar Falcon. I’m pleased to be able to report that it’s a very worthy second entry in this series, neatly avoiding some of the issues that so often bog down those difficult middle books. However, there are key differences with the pacing and ‘feel’ of The Ikessar Falcon that set it apart from its predecessor.

Where Oren-Yaro was a claustrophobic tale of a woman lurching from one disaster to the next, Ikessar widens the scale of the story and shows us a woman deeply in conflict with herself. Here the shadow of her father looms larger than ever, as Talyien’s greatest critic, advisor and constant (though not necessarily welcome) companion. Here we see Villoso at perhaps her most introspective, successfully balancing themes of loss, loneliness, determination, and the true self versus the façade. All this within an ambitious and exciting tale of political intrigue, conspiracy, and at the center of it all, a parent desperate to protect her child.

Fans of The Agartes Epilogues will be delighted to find that there is quite a bit of crossover here, which is cleverly handled and likely to intrigue those who have not yet read the original trilogy rather than confuse them. The fantasy elements in play are also turned up to 11, with dragons taking the central role in a conspiracy that could change the face (and power balances) of Agos-Agan forever. Talyien finds herself adrift, pulled this way and that by the ruthless and the power hungry, isolated and never fully sure of who to trust. The easy chemistry and playful banter she shared with Khine in the first entry has been replaced by stiff formality early in the novel, increasing her sense of anguish and leaving her no-one with whom she can be herself. It is often heartbreaking to read, especially given that her first instinct is usually to blame herself for her situation. For readers who want their protagonists to always make smart and logical decisions, Tali might not be for you. But for readers who appreciate a protagonist who feels truly human, she’s a real treat. It’s often a pitfall of first person PoV novels that the other characters can feel flat since we’re not privy to their inner thoughts, but Villoso does a fantastic job of making all of her main cast into complex voices with their own motivations and needs.

The worldbuilding, as always, is top-notch. As well as the beautiful cultural details peppered throughout, I found myself marveling at the new information we are given about the inner workings of the Agan, the bestiary of the world and the depth of its history – I cannot imagine the amount of notes this must require. It is easily one of the richest fantasy worlds I have had the pleasure of inhabiting. The pacing is something of a slow burn in the first half, but when it accelerates we’re treated to a number of truly memorable scenes and events, my favorite of which involves a dragon and an arena – it’s real edge of your seat stuff. Overall I’d have to say that if Villoso can keep up this momentum, The Annals of the Bitch Queen will likely take its place as one of my favorite fantasy trilogies ever, and an excellent example of the potential of self-published work.

Score: 8.8/10
Profile Image for The Nerd Book Review.
170 reviews70 followers
August 20, 2018
First of all Villoso is a hell of a writer. She has that “it factor” that some people have where you know they were meant to write. Her prose is smooth and I’m able to remain in that movie in my mind for long stretches of time. I just flat out enjoy reading the words on the page.
Now to the story itself. Villoso has a single POV story centered around Talyien, The Queen of Oren-Yaro. The story is based on Southeast Asia instead of the West as so many other stories are and I had a great time imagining a medieval society based in the East.
I have to admit I didn’t love the Queen in the first book but in this book she’s a badass and is a very complicated character.
I just finished the book so I’ll leave a more detailed review in a day or so.
Profile Image for Paula M.
553 reviews638 followers
October 9, 2020
Reviewing K.S. Villoso's Chronicles of the Bitch Queen is both hard and easy. Easy because even though I finished the book few days ago and sitting now, writing this and looking at the cover, I can still easily l feel the atmosphere of the whole book and all of the emotions that it brought to me. But on the other hand, hard, because I'm having trouble typing down those emotions to let you all know what this book really made me feel. I guess this whole paragraph already say something. I will have to say right away that I'm not a huge fantasy reader, reading this, I have a very limited knowledge of what books should I compare it to if I was a fantasy junkie. The thing is, I'm happy that I am not at all that because starting now, The Bitch Chronicles will be my standard and any epic fantasy book after this need to be either twice as good or at least close to its amazingness.

I read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro for a week and was so grateful that I had the sequel right away. The Ikessar Falcon has a recap or a dedicated chapter that summarizes the first book so even though your case will be different from mine, it will not be difficult to catch up. At the first book, we went with Tali as she finds her husband as she thought this act will bring peace to her nation, and at the second book we find if that alone will be enough.

First thing of the many things I want to praise from this novel is how lyrical, readable and gripping KS Villoso's writing is. A whole chapter of talking about Queen Talyiens thoughts is already enough to know how much of a talented author K.S. Villoso is. She will make you think and also help you process the prose she wrote. The writing alone IS ENOUGH for you to pick up this book.

Chronicles of the Bitch Queen is also one of the most character centric series I've ever read. I really have no words how astonishing Talyien's character development was. The main character is self aware of how flawed she is and the readers will not forget that as well as this is what Talyien is known for. A bitch queen. Going back to praising K.S. Villoso's writing, it really was amazing that we get to see how the bitch queen acts AND why. We get to understand that her actions was done in a certain why and that every words uttered by her has a reasoning behind it and the author gave us every bit of the logical explanation needed. A powerful queen with an intellectual and yet learning mind, what is not to like?

Although Talyien is my favorite character, I can't possibly miss out commending how fleshed out every secondary characters were as well, especially Khine and Talyiens own father, Warlord Yeshin. They all have interesting backstories, useful roles and all of them leaves a mark. One of the best thing that will ever happen to you in reading a book is probably when you end up loving and caring and engrossed with each and every character. Even the villain who is written for us to hate leaves me breathless. The maniac is written is such a compelling way you can't help but shake your head slowly while trying to think ahead of this character. 

The plot of Chronicles of the Bitch Queen is not really simple. But hang in there because that doesn’t mean it will keep you from enjoying the book. It’s actually the opposite. See, Chronicles of the Bitch Queen has clans, rich history, a scary and wonderful world, and never ending wars and The Ikessar Falcon is like a crack that you will inhale because of those reasons. The politics in Talyien's world is breathtaking. Its rotten and its gripping and as a Filipino reader, it made me swell with pride that there are tons of parallelism with Asian politics and that the whole book is written in an Asian culture backdrop.  With a genre like Epic Fantasy it's so easy to just drop the book and say, ‘been there, read that‘ so as a reader, a book has to have something that sinks into the reader that makes it hard to let go. And as weird as this sounds, TALYIEN's world IS hard let go. Its a terrible world and its enthralling.

The romance was slow burn… scorching… to die for. It was full of intrigue, desire and mistrust. Its the kind of romance that will break your heart but still, leaves it with hope and FEELS. You can say that it can be complicated but the thing about the romance in Talyien's world, as little as it is, is that even just the slightest scene with the main character and love interest you're rooting for is profound and unforgettable.

I cannot recommend this book enough and I can't wait for its conclusion. Waiting is almost painful. I have so many things to say, so many words to write because my heart is just bursting with love for this book. But I will just tell you this: this is the epic fantasy you're looking for! K.S. VIllosos’ writing was always visual, so close at hand it is searing! The Ikessar Falcon is a sequel that will captivate you with its furious and excellent pacing, it will not let you go. If somebody wants a stay-up-all-night kind of book that will leave them breathless? Chronicles of the Bitch Queen series will always be at the tip of my tounge!
Profile Image for Kristen.
587 reviews111 followers
September 14, 2020
The Ikessar Falcon is the continuing story of Talyien aren dar Orenar, the Queen of Jin-Sayeng. After the events of The Wolf of Oren-yaro, Tali is trapped across the sea in the Empire of Ziri-nar-Orxiaro, held there by an embargo placed by… well, someone who really doesn’t want her to leave. Tali is desperate to get back to Jin-Sayeng because her son’s life is in danger. So, she does everything that’s in her power to get home. And shenanigans are very much had.

Just as when I read it the first time, I enjoyed The Ikessar Falcon very much. Tali has really grown as a character and she continues to grow throughout the book. Characters that grew on me in book one are back, as are characters that I did not like so much. We see more of Tali’s estranged husband Rayyel in this one (as would be expected, considering he is the titular Ikessar Falcon). Khine and Agos are still around as well, being their most ridiculous selves. We see more action in this one, I found. Tali is fighting her enemies as well as new enemies closer to home, and the fighting has become a lot more physical than just words. Intrigue and political maneuvering are happening on both sides of the sea, and we go on a thrillride through it just as Tali does.

Then there are the dragons. Many dragons. Handle it, Tali.

This series is very character driven, and it has those characters you can’t help but love, and other characters that you can’t help but loathe. Most of all though, Villoso has crafted some of the most tense romantic tension between characters that I’ve ever read. It made this book very difficult to set aside to do things like eat, even despite the fact that I have read it before (that said, food is described in some detail in this book and it makes me hungry every time, lol). I knew… things… were going to happen. And yet, it was almost more feels-jostling the second time around, knowing what was to come.

This was a hard book to put down, especially in the second half, because there is just so much stuff going on. This is very much a ‘okay, just oooone more chapter’ book for me, and suddenly 3am is staring me in the face. It just compels you to keep on reading no matter the time. This time around, the last quarter or so of this book was even more feels-jostling than I remember. I didn’t have my feels shields up as much as I should have and suddenly I was having feelings about characters that I didn’t even like. ಠ_ಠ

So all told, I think I loved this book even more the second time around. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s gone through some additional re-writes and editing since I read it the first time, or if it’s because I just needed a reread of this book in my life, but either way, my rating hasn’t changed. It’s still a full 5/5 stars!~

This and more reviews at superstardrifter.com
Thanks to the author, as well as Orbit for the review copy~
May 4, 2021
First published on my blog Papertea & Bookflowers

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.

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!!
Profile Image for rain.
627 reviews369 followers
August 22, 2020
Profile Image for Adah Udechukwu.
635 reviews84 followers
June 15, 2020
The Ikessar Falcon is a must-read sequel. It is the most politics-filled novel i've ever read. Characters such as Tali, Rai, Yuebeck, Qun and Dai Kaggawwa are all bound by their political self interest. Every character has an agenda
For all its awesome it would have been nice if the series ended in Book 2. The Ikessar Falcon is just too long.
Profile Image for Kate.
408 reviews242 followers
April 21, 2021
Reread: 21 April 2021

Second verse, same as the first.


Have you ever ridden a roller coaster? You know those parts of the ride where it seems like it’s smooth sailing and you’re enjoying yourself, and then suddenly the tracks dip or loop around and then you’re upside down screaming your head off? That’s what the plot of The Ikessar Falcon felt like.

I legitimately screamed into my pillow so many times throughout the process of reading my ARC. K.S. Villoso is a master of raising the stakes and really making you feel the urgency of the events that happens throughout the book. I felt on tenterhooks the entire time I was reading, just wondering what the fuck was going to happen next.

Also, is it just me, or did Kay really manage to show off her chops here in terms of blending genres? The Wolf of Oren-Yaro and The Ikessar Falcon are both mostly travel fantasies in that the main focus of the plot is for Talyien and her allies to get to one place from another to achieve their ultimate goal: bringing back Talyien’s husband, Rayyel. But in The Ikessar Falcon, the journey is longer, and even more fraught with danger – and here is where we get to see how Kay really flexed those genre-bending msucles. Buried within the usual travel fantasies are so many other facets of the plot like social commentary on inequality and poverty, the prevalent ignorance in even the most well-meaning of privileged politicians, and even a dash of atmospheric horror.

Underlying all of the fantastical and adventurous events throughout is the book is the central theme of identity. Talyien, even as she struggles to stay on the right path and do what’s best for her country and her family, cannot seem to shed her identity as Yeshin’s daughter. And it leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy when it comes to who she is and what’s in store for those she cares about, as well as for all of Jin-Sayeng. And that inability to become her own person leads her to maintain her rather frustrating naïveté, which then leads her to make several near irrepairable mistakes that jeopardize her life, her throne, and the lives of the people fighting for her.

Which leads me to another central theme of this book. We are shown, over and over again, how Agos and Rayyel continually fuck shit up. And yet, they are given many, many opportunities to try and do better. Talyien is not afforded the same courtesy. Once she makes a mistake, that’s it for her. That’s it for female warlords and leaders of Jin-Sayeng. It’s a notion that unfortunately is reflected very much so in real life: the added pressure on people from marginalized communities to do it right the first time, otherwise other people like them will never get that chance ever again.

This book was a freaking masterpiece that left me breathless and with my heart pounding somewhere in the vicinity of my throat. It crept up behind me while I was walking down a dark alley, slashed my throat, and then looked down on my dead body with a smirk. It’s that good.
Profile Image for Kevin.
766 reviews65 followers
August 10, 2021
3.5 stars

Reading The Ikessar Falcon was a lesson in patience and frustration. Queen Talyien continues to be the most frustrating main character I have read in a book. In Act 1, she is more of the same from the previous book. She once again needed saving and made terribly foolish decisions. In Act 2, it got better because events finally progressed and things were just happening to her and all she had to do was react. She is at her best when choices are taken away from her because given a decision to make, she would somehow go for the worst option (sometimes she even knows how stupid she is being and she chooses to do it anyway). I was starting to tolerate her (I probably can never like her), but then she goes and does something even more exceedingly stupid. I’m over her already. I don’t know how I’m supposed to root for her when she continues to be her own worst enemy, dragging everyone else down with her.

And then there’s Rai. Here’s an absentee husband who still feels like he has the moral high ground and can go around judging his wife and being gone for years as a “test”. He is another character we are told is so smart, but proof is yet to be seen in his actions. He also reeks of hypocrisy. I have no idea what Tali sees in him and what the author wants us to feel about him. Khine is the best character and the series’ only saving grace. I could grow to like Argos as well had he had any character development at all.
Profile Image for hafsah.
383 reviews135 followers
August 31, 2023
3.75☆ - certainly a step up from ‘the wolf of oren-yaro’, but still has a way to go

this series is one that should really work for me - i love a bitchy main character, i adore drama & politics-heavy fantasies, and i especially adore fantasy novels following a royal family member - however, there are so many moments where this series falls flat

the characters are frustrating—intentionally so. usually i’m okay with that, but the characters in here are idiotic, and it really tests my patience lmao. this entire series is about the queen realising that her actions have consequences, and i find it hard to believe that she was trained her entire life to be a ruler and she never learned that before???

furthermore, the plot felt jumbling and confused, at times. it almost reads like the author doesn't plan her work, which is completely fine; i'm not critiquing that at all. it just informs the way the plot unravels and is structured, and i find that it doesn't work for me. i prefer fantasy stories that feel really thought out and like each aspect has been carefully considered.

this review sounds really negative, but i want to stress that this series is very entertaining, and a great way to pass the time. khine(🥰) is definitely a redeeming point for me; i love a cinnamon roll character.

all in all, this book was a good time, but it had major potential to be an AMAZING time, and it didn’t quite reach that point for me
Profile Image for Izzie.
242 reviews106 followers
April 10, 2021
The Ikessar Falcon was a satisfying continuation of The Chronicles of the Bitch-Queen, and in my opinion it more than lived up to its predecessor - no middle book syndrome to be seen here! It had all the aspects I enjoyed from the first book - the pulse-pounding action and suspicions, the slower moments of Queen Talyien's introspection which were still, for me, a joy to read. I love Villoso's writing style, and the way she writes the relationships between characters, as well as how they interact with the world and its complex politics and history.

Oh, and more dragons! (Plus other monsters)

There was one line said by a particular character about Talyien's son that put a really bad taste in my mouth. I only read an ARC though so that might have changed for the final version. I hope so, it just felt gratuitous and totally unnecessary, it could have been said without being actually said, you know? But this was my only real complaint!

Overall I gave The Ikessar Falcon a well-deserved four stars (more like four and a half!). I am desperate to see what more Queen Talyien's tale has in store.
106 reviews8 followers
January 6, 2019
The story was very interesting, fast paced, I couldn't put it down. I would give definately four, maybe even five stars if not for Tali. I like her, but from book one I really hoped she would grow up. Emotionally she stopped her developement at the age of 13. What she did to Agos, her oldest friend leaves really bad taste.
And the ending! It made me angry, but mostly dissapointed with her.
Profile Image for Dawn.
1,176 reviews46 followers
September 11, 2020
I've been a fan of K. S. Villoso since the days of "Jaeth's Eye", so when I saw this pop up on NetGalley, I just clicked "Request"... and then realised that I had already read this book back in 2018 - my apologies to K. S. Villoso, Orbit, and NetGalley for my over-eager clicking!
The review I wrote just over 2 years ago still stands, so I will let it do my work for me!
"I've loved K.S. Villoso's work since I read "Jaeth's Eye"... and with every subsequent book, the writing gets better and better. BUT: "The Ikessar Falcon" is a step beyond anything I've read before from this author. I usually find the second book in a trilogy a little dull, a little plodding, a little "less" than what has come before or what comes after. Not so with this second instalment of "Chronicles of the Bitch Queen". If this story had been a blanket, you may have just seen my nose peeking out! I was engrossed from the start and had the full spectrum of emotions while reading. Absolutely superb!"

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy to review. This review is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
Profile Image for Blake the Book Eater.
862 reviews388 followers
June 26, 2021
This book just fell flat for me.

Where the constant running added to the intensity in the first book, here it just feels tiring. The reader (and Talyien) is whipped around from one situation to another so quickly that it's hard to really care about what's going on, because it's over quickly and boom moving on to the next set-piece.

And some of the characters began to really grate on me. Talyien and Khine were still wonderful, but every other character began to seem as if they were just going through the motions.

I did appreciate the world-building that was done in this novel and I'll def be picking up the third book to see how it all turns out. But I'm gonna need a little break before I do.
Profile Image for Jordan (Forever Lost in Literature).
835 reviews114 followers
March 11, 2021

Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

If you haven't read book one, you can find my review here. I read book one back in 2019, so I was concerned about forgetting things--never fear, Villoso has a recap at the beginning of the book! I love that more and more authors are beginning to do this, but I also still wish more would start including these recaps because they are invaluable.

I enjoyed The Wolf of Oren-Yaro back when I read it, but I definitely had some reservations by the end and knew that the sequel would be the make or break for continuing the series. Fortunately, The Ikessar Falcon completely swayed me and won me over because it was a stunning sequel (and I think it may have even made me like The Wolf of Oren-Yaro more, also)! This is also one of those series where I feel like any form of detail has the potential to be a spoiler in one form or another, so I'm going to try to keep my review from mentioning any specific plot points or character beats.

The Ikessar Falcon picks up not long after the intense ending from the first book and we are thrown right back into the midst of the lies, political upheaval, distrust, and essential chaos from the first book. The general goal of book two is to get Queen Talyien back to her people and, most importantly, her son in Jin-Sayeng. Of course, this is not nearly as easy as it may appear, and there are a number of obstacles that get into Tali's way as she attempts to hold onto her power and protect those she cares about.

Tali has definitely becomes a more compelling and interesting character for me with this second installment, and I think it's in this book where she really gains a backbone and comes into her own as a leader. Her development from the first book until now as well as over the course of this book are so carefully and brilliantly done. You can really see watch how Tali, as a rather brash and rather unlikable character, begins to think and consider more about herself, her rule, her people and kingdom, and those around her. I mentioned in my review for the first book that one of my favorite things was the strong narrative voice of Tali, and that remains just as strong and important in this book as in the first--and remains a compelling storytelling component.

And as much as I enjoyed following Tali through The Ikessar Falcon, I also immensely appreciated getting to know and revisit many of the secondary characters as well, especially Khine and Argos. Tali's husband, of course, continues to absolutely drive me to crazy, which I think is intended. I want to like him for some reason and appreciate his own strategic ideas, but there are just too many things that irritate me and at this point to allow any inkling of caring about that man.

This is very much a character-focused fantasy series thus far, which Villoso executes beautifully. There is also endless scheming, plots, and twists, so I can promise that you won't get bored with this book because of the plot. Despite the character focus, the plot has also really expanded in scope and meaning overall, which I think is also what made this such a strong sequel. It's not as though Villoso is just continuing the storyline from the first book, but rather that she is adding to every aspect in the perfect increments to keep interest piqued. Some authors try to add to sequels and miss the mark, but Villoso executes this near-flawlessly. And although we got to explore a lot of world-building in the first book, I feel the sequel has just opened everything up so much more. Not only do we get more of Tali, but we get to see more of this world and better understand all of the turning machinations that make it a messy moving reality.

I realize this review has been a bit vague, but trust me when I say that this is an incredible follow-up to a unique fantasy that I think brings a lot to the fantasy book community. There's something about this series that feel fresh and unlike much of the other fantasy that I usually read, which is always a nice addition. Overall, it's 4.25 stars from me! I can't wait for the third and final book in the trilogy, The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng, out May 4th!
Profile Image for Jason Aycock.
90 reviews19 followers
April 4, 2021
Why? Why did I wait so long to read The Ikessar Falcon? Like, seriously why? I mean yeah I’ve got a lot of books on my TBR and this was just one among many. But I could have bumped it up the stack a bit. I should have bumped it up the stack a bit. I loved The Wolf of Oren-Yaro so why didn’t I read the follow-up right away? Why?

Look, here’s the takeaway you need from this review…you don’t even need to read the rest of it if you don’t want to…the one thing I want to get across if nothing else is this…

If you’re not already reading The Chronicles of The Bitch Queen, you should be because this series is just damn fantastic.

There. That’s it. That’s the whole point of anything else I might have to say about this book and this series. If you want a little more keep reading.

More World Building
Blood Magic
Character Development

K.S. Villoso keeps getting better with these stories. The writing, the characters, the worldbuilding, the tension, everything is getting better. The Ikessar Falcon is not just some filler book to get you to the final book in the series. It increases the stakes for everyone in the story and tosses in some major shifts in the plot.

First there’s more world building. Much more world building. In The Wolf of Oren-Yaro the vast mojority of the story took place across the sea in Anzhou City and the Zarojo Empire. Sure there were snippets set in Jin-Sayeng, but these were all told through the lens of memory. In The Ikessar Falcon not only do we get to see more of the Empire and its beautiful and sinister ways, but we finally get to see Jin-Sayeng in all its glory (or lack thereof). The nation Tali rules is large with many regions and ways of life based upon the geography and local threats. As the characters travel through it the reader is treated to the changes between these regions, and by that we discover just how difficult it is for Tali to hold the country together given her place and background. Indeed politics comes to play an even greater role in the series with this installment as Tali must navigate the new political landscape she finds herself in after returning from such a long absence.

In book one magic was present but we didn’t get to see or know much about it. It was a bit of a mystery and that added to the tension. In The Ikessar Falcon that magic becomes much more integral to the plot and has significant impact on the characters and their actions. In particular we get blood magic! Just saying it gives off evil undertones and sacrificial vibes. And you wouldn’t be wrong in that feeling. Villoso doesn’t get into the weeds by explaining the magic system in detail. Instead we are treated to its immediate impact and aftermath and the psychological toll it takes on the characters.

Then there’s dragons! Yep DRAGONS! We got a teeny tiny hint of them in The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, enough to let us know they exist and that they may one day make another appearance. Well now they do, and it was fantastic. Dragons make everything better. Dragons made this story more exciting. Villoso’s dragons are scary not just because they are dragons, but because they have other issues going on as well. I’ll let you discover that as you read but suffice it to say they weren’t just dropped into the story to add danger and a big bad monster. But, they ARE dangerous and the ARE big bad monsters and the characters must contend with that.

But my favorite thing Villoso did with The Ikessar Falcon was the character development, which is important because these books are very much character driven stories. At it’s core The Chronicles of The Bitch Queen are the stories of Queen Talyien’s attempt to rule her nation while also being a mother, a wife, and a daughter living up to the expectations of her deceased father. It’s a mix of living up to the expectations her people have of her and her role(s), and her desire for something different; something more. To a great extent she’s trapped within the roles culture and society place upon her and she’s struggling with how to live within it and how to move beyond it. You’d think “hey, she’s queen she can do what she wants,” but it just isn’t that simple. Things are very complicated for Tali and Villoso doubles down on it in book two. Tali struggles with all of the above but there are now more suitors in her life trying to take advantage of that strained relationship with her husband, her son is in danger from all sides, her queendom is in danger of collapse (because she’s still MIA), and there’s pressure from without. On top of all that she’s dealing not with a love triangle, but a love quadrangle plus a couple other complications. All the while Tali is figuring out who she is and who she wants to be. We get to see the transition from within the first person narrative. She’s writing her own history of sorts which also makes things interesting because such a perspective always raises the question of what is she not telling you, what is she leaving out or glossing over, why does she include what she does? And as always with Tali she continues to make decisions that drive you nuts; you’ll still be loving her at one moment and screaming at her the next. But that may be expected given she’s a woman emerging from many different shadows to figure out who SHE wants to be…she’s bound to make some mistakes, take some risks, and take actions that work for her, everyone else be damned. I just love Tali’s character.

Like I said in my opening, if you’re not reading this series you should be. It’s just so good. Villoso has given us a protagonist who you’ll love despite all the ways she frustrates you because she’s believable. You may hate the decisions she makes and the tracks she takes but at the same time you’ll say to yourself, “yeah I get it.” Add to that significant mystery, danger, and action and you’ve just got a great story developing. Oh yeah…don’t forget dragons. I’m enjoying the hell out of this series and I think you will too. Book three

The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng comes out next month and I can’t wait to read it.

Oh…and if anyone is wondering I’m still very much team Khine.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Profile Image for Josefine.
132 reviews33 followers
March 13, 2022
I loved book one and jumped into book two immediately after. While it continued to blow me away when it comes to the character depth and the world-building, this one was a bit too drawn out for my liking. 100 - 200 pages less and it would have been on par with book one. Still a new favorite!

Let's see how book three turns out. I definitely have to know how our "Bitch Queen" is going to resolve all of this.
Profile Image for Katie.
317 reviews66 followers
September 20, 2020
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 that he seems deadset on trying to kill her? their? son), but the way Villoso writes him is so sympathetic and damn interesting that like, it’s fine. I don’t care that you’re trying to murder a 14-year-old because someone else might have been the father because you’re a hot nerd that’s a smart and cool and uses you brain more than once a chapter and frankly, that’s someone Tali needs in her life. 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..
Profile Image for Olivia.
167 reviews9 followers
January 31, 2021
Really wanted to like this one and was very convinced I would, but all the things I disliked about the first book are amplified in this one, and some of the things I liked are overdone.

There are upsides to this book. The world and magic building is great. The political intrigue is interesting and makes the plot unpredictable, though I do feel a more thorough editor would have finetuned some bits and prompted the author to focus on expanding other areas.

What I hated about both installments was unfortunately the main character. We are stuck in her head throughout and the longer we stay in it the more it is undeniable that Tali is insufferable. She is selfish, manipulative and extremely arrogant. She fits the common fantasy tropes of a "strong female character" who's simply just an asshole but it's okay because she's a wimmin.

I'd have given this book 5 stars if it was written in third person, or even if we got occasional breaks from her perspective. But because of the first person narration a lot of the story starts to suffer. Her internal conflict and thoughts around it become nauseatingly repetitive. She adores her murderous war criminal father, his authoritarian gaze and judgement influence her every move, she invokes him every 5 minutes and behaves exactly like him, stabbing anyone who speaks to her sideways, but gasps and clutches her pearls. when people point out she's like her father. It's so fake and it's done at very convenient times when she's trying to manipulate a man into doing something for her. She's also misogynistic lol the way she hates women and doesn't even hesitate to murder them is quite comical.

Btw every man is in love with her. Everyone just wants her but not for her personality, or her looks, they love her stubbornness. Except for her husband Rayyel. Who tries to embarrass, humiliate, undermine and straight up set her up to be killed every three pages, but she's in love with him and chases after him across the continent, even after he denounces her and tries to kill her child... "BUT I LOVE HIM!" And he loves her too lmao that's why he's doing these things. According to her.

I was a fan of the dialogue in the first book but in this installment it is overused and just an excuse for an information dump...lots and lots of telling.

But I'm angriest at how Khine was my favourite character in the first book but now he's the worst. LAMANG EX MACHINA. Every time she's about to die or be betrayed or face some consequences for her behaviour there he is. There's literally a part where shes like "and there's Khine, who's come out of nowhere!" Even his brother has that power to appear when she's done something absolutely stupid and deserves death. Lol.

Won't be reading the third one, I don't care. I hope everyone dies.
Profile Image for idiomatic.
500 reviews16 followers
August 30, 2021
SO frustrating to see an author lose track of what they're good at in favor of checking off things they 'should' be doing. the first book felt special because it tied big epic-fantasy court-intrigue stakes to a fairly intimate domestic dispute; this one buries the messy divorce shenanigans and the tight character focus under a bunch of new magic and monsters that i'm not interested in because i never fully bought that the author was interested - it felt like she couldn't imagine expanding an epic fantasy in any other way, but the further it gets from explicitly character-driven stakes, the more obviously her world thins. i'm also not a HUGE fan of tali's rival suitors assembling into a ragtag band of admirers around her, which is partly that that group dynamic isn't really to my taste but also because i generally wish villoso was more comfortable writing interpersonal conflict among the characters she likes - everyone tends to get along when doing otherwise would upset the heroine, to a point where no one can have a full internal life.

i suspect all of this is going to get worse rather than better in the third book, but will read it all the same, if for no other reason than they eat the best fantasy meals in the business.
27 reviews2 followers
October 1, 2020
I’m really struggling to finish this book. This story presents a truly unique problem... I enjoy the plot and most of the characters, but I absolutely positively hate the main character. Hate. Her. I’m so sick of her whining and self pity. It’s the same shit constantly. She’s both stupid and clueless of what’s happening around her. I’ve never thought “wow that was clever” or “dude she’s really a badass” even once. If I have to hear her carry on about her father one more time I’ll throw up.

She’s truly a terrible queen and an awful mother and an even worse person just in general. She just uses the decent men around her and she is truly pathetic when it comes to her sorry ass husband. He’s a threat to your son. Kill his ass or you are the worst mother on the planet. Come up with a decent lie about it and move on. It’s unbelievably frustrating to have to spend every scene with her.

I genuinely hope that a) the psycho antagonist comes out on top and b) Khine finds somewhere else to live happily ever after. Maybe he can take her poor son with him.

I’m going to try and finish this, but I’m not having any fun. I’ll come change my review if the experience improves.
Profile Image for Geena K.
155 reviews14 followers
November 24, 2021

Villoso outdoing herself once again with the sequel to The Wolf of Oren-Yaro. The political manoeuvring in this book? Insane. The messy romance and indecisiveness? Astounding. Villoso writes fast-paced action scenes with the same ease as she writes comedic moments throughout the book. Honestly, sometimes I was like wow let me refer to this like an anime, because the multiple locations we follow Tali through and how every single location had the most batshit fight felt like an arc on it's own. I loved it! The Yuyan Dragon Arc was one of my faves! This series has quickly become one of my top faves, right up there alongside The Rage of Dragons. Though this series is nothing like Rage.

Tali, who has had the reputation of being a mega Bitch Queen, and also promiscuous, is everything BUT that. She lives in the shadow of her dead father, the man who sparked a bloody war that ended in Tali being engaged to the heir of the enemy clan. People think she's the type to bite your head off but honestly after finishing The Ikessar Falcon all I can say is, despite the fact that we never knew her mother... I believe she was her mother's daughter more than her father's. Tali is far from the mad warlord that started a bloody war, she's doing everything in her power to NOT do that while also save her son from the political vultures that threaten to pick him apart for their own gain.

We start off back in the Zarojo empire where Tali and Co have found an unlikely ally in Lo Bahn, and literally everything goes to shit from like the first chapter and never stops being shit. Tali is hellbent on stopping Rai from killing her son, and to do that she has to stop him before he can get mages to do a paternity test on him. Through a series of unfortunate events we end up in the town where Khine and his siblings grew up, we meet his mother, and then literally half the town goes to shit because turns out that Yuebek didn't die like he should have. Khine enters his emo era, bordering suicidal at times, but they all manage to escape and get back to Jin-Sayeng.

Right before that, I had a stunning realization that this novel is very much a reverse harem novel. Let's list out her pool of suitors:

- Rayyel: Her estranged husband, the heir to the enemy clan, father to her son
- Agos: Her personal guard and childhood friend, who she spent a night with before her wedding ()
- Khine: A Zarojo commoner, failed med student, and conman....
- Yuebek: A Zarojo prince who also happens to be batshit crazy!

One of my mutuals described this series as having an idiot plot, because the stupidity most of the characters exude is so insane! But I loved it immensely because yea they make THE dumbest choices ever but it's so entertaining. Like, the amount of times Tali had the chance to kill her useless ex, but it's fine because that provided for more mess down the street.

In Jin-Sayeng, Tali learns that the agan, magic that her people do not speak of, has permeated the land in the forms of souls possessing bodies and turning them into unrecognizable creatures. At the same time she's faced with a saviour from her childhood that puts before her the truth of her people, that the Jinsein caste system is shit. Tali's response to that was very lukewarm but what else can you expect from a high caste noble, but I do hope we see her consider this more deeply in the final book. Tali comes to many different realizations... magical and personal... Some that had me like "This was mad obvious" and others that were like "bitch the fuck..." but anyways very entertaining

My girl Tali was fighting romantic pursuits, dragons, and foreign interference that threatened her in the most vile ways... She killed most of them tho!! So good for her. I reduced half a star solely for that fact that every single character in the possession of a dick was hands-down that most annoying and infuriating character in this book, like yea Tali drinks her dumb bitch juice nightly but she's the main character... that's what main characters do... The whole time the men around her were bickering I expected her to snap and just stab them all, especially the Rayyel/Agos duo... Actually, Agos in general got on my nerves, I liked him in the first book when all he did was essentially grunt.

But in the end it was all worth it, especially when Tali finally got to hold Thanh in her arms. No matter how short that moment lasted. Very gratifying moment, had me on the edge of my seat! I can't wait to see how these events unfold in the final book, maybe we'll have a Rayyel redemption (🤢) or even Tali getting her wish to escape the volatile royal life with her son and never look back.

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