It is always with a mix of trepidation and excitement I feel whenever I start on sequels, especially if it’s with a series whose first book set the bar really high. Of course, The Ikessar Falcon wasn’t exempt from these worries of mine. As you all know, I have read and practically fell in love with its first book, The Wolf of Oren-yaro last year, and I highly anticipated the next book, but not with my own share of reservations as well.
Turns out, my worries were put to rest as K.S. Villoso continues to blow my expectations away in this second installment, back into the captivating world of Queen Talyien.
Hello, friends and welcome to my stop for the #DethroneTheDragonlord Tour! Thank you so much to Caffeine Book Tours and Orbit Books for kindly providing me a copy of the book and making all of this possible.
So, what’s this book about?
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.
One of the first few things that I really appreciated with this book is that it succinctly summarizes the events of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro in a recap chapter at the start. As someone who has the memory of a goldfish when it comes to series–especially when I get to read the succeeding books in a series much, much later than I read the first book–this tidbit was really appreciated because seeing the crucial points that happened back in the first book jogged my memory back into focus and made me remember the key scenes that happened.
Jumping off from where it left off in the first book, The Ikessar Falcon immediately submerges the reader into the heart of a maelstrom of fast-paced action, political scheming, and monstrous beings threatening to destabilize the nation that Queen Talyien herself commands. The first book delivered all these, but in the second book, the stakes are higher, the enemy grows stronger, and Tali has to make some very important decisions that could cost the lives of the people dear to her.
Queen Talyien in this book really irritated me a lot but I can’t help but also sort of empathize a bit. She made A LOT of questionable (dare I say, even stupid) decisions over the course of the narrative but I couldn’t help but feel for her anyways, because heck it just shows that she’s human. She is a mother who was separated from her son, and with every minute ticking down the clock and her position being the only determinant factor to make sure Thanh stays alive.
Rayyel, surprisingly, became a character of interest. In the first book, I didn’t care much for him because at that point he was faceless to me as he had limited screentime, he redeemed himself this time in this book. He started to show more personality in this book and things slowly unraveled as he explained the things he has to do. To put it simply, he’s quite…emotionally-constipated…for the lack of the better term (haha) but well! It’s hard to word what I feel for him at the moment, but there is definitely a lingering interest as to what he will become in the next book.
Perhaps the one that changed the most in this book was Khine. We watched him transform from suave con man to a more somber character in this book–as a consequence of some major events that transpired over the course of the story. Despite these however, I really grew more attached to him in this book, even more so after a few scenes with Tali. Their chemistry is undeniable and my heart ached at some very emotionally-charged scenes in the book. I definitely am also looking forward to the roles he will play in the next installment of the series.
Other than those characters, I would also like to note that I really loved the food descriptions in this book. I gushed about this part in the first time I read about this book but again, I would love to point this out because the dishes that were described in the story were very close to Filipino home-cooked meals that I was used to eating and the way it was described made me super hungry big time. I also liked how the world-building was also intricately sprinkled with bits and pieces of easter eggs pertaining to Philippine culture and myths for instance.
The monsters anggali and the imp that Tali and her cohorts encountered in their stop at the Kaggawa’s seemed to draw references from the Filipino aswang and the tiyanak for instance, with the shapeshifting aspect (transforming into winged individuals and hungering for human flesh as well as your reflection appearing upside down in their eyes) and I appreciated that a lot, being an enthusiast of Philippine mythology myself.
As for the central conflicts in the story, it is without a doubt that the stakes are infinitely higher compared to what Tali has to go through in book one. It felt like problems would hinder her path one after the other, and if she doesn’t end up in a near-death experience, Tali or her cohorts end up getting heavily injured. Yet, I also appreciated the complex layering of political schemes and strategizing involved and it hooked my attention from start to the finish.
In summary, The Ikessar Falcon delivers a strong, action-packed follow-up to its predecessor, with higher stakes and a tempest of schemes lined up for Queen Talyien to face head-on. This book, despite the amount of stress it caused me, was something I equally enjoyed and agonized over. (I say this, but in a very good way. I love it when books stress me out, it makes for an interesting reading experience.) If you manage to pick up a copy of the first two books in The Chronicles of The Bitch Queen, brace yourself for one hell of a ride.
Overall Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
An advanced reading copy was provided by Orbit Books in partnership with Caffeine Book Tours to the blogger in exchange for an honest review. All quotes used in this post are subject to final revisions in the finished copy. All opinions are my own.
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.
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