The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #1) by K.S. Villoso

thewolf ofI have to hand it to KS Villoso for running me through the gamut of emotions reading the first in her Bitch Queen series.  Was I sometimes confused by this tough leading lady – oh yes.  Did she sometimes make me want to shake her, indeed she did.  Did she repeatedly get herself into a pickle of a situation where I couldn’t see any possible solution, why yes, yes she did.  Did I really think she was a bitch – truthfully, no – I’ll elaborate don’t worry.  Has she wormed her way into my affections – damn it all, yes.  Do I want to run around stabbing and strangling people who get in her way or betray her – yes, and probably also no, because I’m a raging softie.  Drat it this is an addictive book, completely not what I was expecting in a lot of respects but, because of that, better than I hoped and a great start to series.  I’m not saying I didn’t have any little issues along the way, because I did, but the twists and reveals during the final chapters are like little light bulbs being turned on consecutively in a dark tunnel – they line up and shine some much needed light in places of need, they provide a focus and also a way of looking back and seeing things differently.

Okay, this review is not going to be about plot.  Know this though, this isn’t all about war and battles.  It’s not about tens of thousands of soldiers marching upon a city and ravaging the land as they forge ahead.  Also, it’s not overloaded with magic and fantasy although there are mages and dragons – just that they’re kept low key and I suspect they’re being held in abeyance to spring on us as the story progresses.  This is much more of a character driven story that uses subtle politics and scheming to great effect.  More than that it’s about the main character in particular and her own personal journey to enlightenment.

Queen Talyien may not have been a particularly spoiled or pampered Princess and being the daughter of a ruthless slayer certainly gave her a reputation to live up to, but she is without doubt still suffering from certain delusions or at the very least wearing her rose tinted glasses firmly strapped to her noggin.  And it’s this that the story really focuses on – or at least that’s what I took from it.  It’s about stripping away everything, not just physically although that certainly helps.  Here is a Queen so desperately hoping for things to work out that she’s started thinking that hopes and wishes will create rainbows and stardust and quite simply – they don’t.

Tali (as she is known by some) finds herself travelling to distant shores and within short shrift being betrayed in such a way that she is alone on the mean streets, without friends, advisors, money or means of protecting herself.  Let’s be honest, you can’t run around blurting out that you’re a Queen when you find yourself in the rougher quarters of town – at best people would think you were delusional, at worst, well, bad things would happen.  More than that though, this is a discovery about who Tali really is.  She’s not a totally happy bunny for a large portion of the story and it takes a while as a reader to discover why that’s the case, and during that time she can come across a little bit sorry for herself.  But, she’s been raised with certain expectations and she is clearly determined to do the right thing for her people and country.

I mentioned above that I didn’t really think of Tali as a bitch.  Seriously, I’m not saying that she’s an angel, she can be a bit stabby, her actions at the start of the story clearly  drove her husband to abandon her and their child and yet she still takes up the throne alone, but, with that particular title I expected a lot more harshness from her.  In fact to be frank, I found her to be a lot more reasonable and restrained in some of the situations she found herself in and also, she definitely has a certain honesty and forthrightness that I wouldn’t associate with a bitchy person.  I certainly couldn’t understand the devotion she seemed to have for her husband, especially as things came to light along the way.  He wasn’t exactly faithful and lets just call a spade a spade here – he was something of a hypocrite, but I’ll leave that alone.  What I think Villoso really excels at here though is the final stripping away of Tali’s romantic notions.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a romance, and yet, at the core of the story, the plot driver, is indeed the romantic longing of Tali’s to have her husband back. But, whilst tali’s heart pushes the plot forward this is without doubt a book about politics, the backstabbing-deal-making type of politics that has nothing to do with romantic notions and everything to do with power.  An eye opener for Tali and the reader.

In terms of criticisms.  I mentioned above that Tali can come across a little sorry for herself at times – just bear with her though, things are more convoluted than they first appear.  I think my main two issues were.  Firstly, I expected Tali to be a lot more forceful or commanding given her upbringing, but I guess she was being diplomatic in some of the situations she found herself in.  Which brings me to my next point, a number of the difficulties Tali found herself in seemed to rely on the unexpected involvement or appearance of a certain other.  This wasn’t really a problem as it was a character that I liked but I think I would have preferred it if Tali had had to rely on her own wits for some of the situations.  The only other issue I had was the baddie.  I won’t elaborate on who this might be but I must say he was a bit of a cookie cutout.  He was all but wearing a swirling cape, twirling his mustache and laughing maniacally whilst tying some young woman to the train tracks.  That being said – I still found his chapters highly compulsive so figure that one out.  I’m clearly a sucker for over the top baddies who I can boo at from the safety of my comfy chair.  It’s that whole ‘addictive’ thing rearing its head again.

In a nutshell (which I could have said approximately 900 words ago).  I enjoyed this very much, in fact I couldn’t wait to pick it up again.  It defied me at every turn.  It didn’t give Tali any breaks or go down the conventional paths that I sometimes thought it might take.  It has great world building, moments of lightness that stop it becoming too bleak and a winning focus on the main character who discovers things about herself at the same time as the reader.  I can’t wait to read No.2.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 4 stars out of 5.

 

 

 

 

18 Responses to “The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #1) by K.S. Villoso”

  1. evelynreads1

    Great review! I always get such good recommendations from your blog, especially books I’ve never heard form before!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

  2. LizScanlon

    …. aaaaand, I totally want to read this book now! XD awesome review!

    • @lynnsbooks

      thank you 😀 Hope you get a chance to give it a shot. I found it quite addictive.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    I’m so glad you loved this, I’m excited to meet Tali myself😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      I found this really quite compelling to be honest. I had issues here and there and I don’t deny it but I was still so eager to pick it back up.
      Lynn 😀

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    The best comment one can make about a book is exactly the one you employed when you said you could not wait to pick it up: it sounds so very promising indeed, despite the small “hiccups”… Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed it and even when there were small issues here and there it still held my attention. Very addictive.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I didn’t read too deep into the details of your review since I hope to be starting this soon with a blank slate, but so excited to see this got a thumbs up from you! Very excited to read!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I had a few reservations but in spite of those issues I found this really quite addictive.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Barb @ Booker T's Farm

    I’m torn on this one. I want to read it but I just don’t know. I’m not a huge high fantasy reader? Would that present a problem in your opinion? Because honestly, I really want to read about a Bitch Queen.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, the setting is high fantasy in that it’s an alternative asian setting, but the overall plot, which is very focused on the main character, isn’t epic in terms of battles and armies, etc. If feels much more like a personal journey. It takes a while to really like Tali, she’s a bit secretive and certain revelations along the way are real eye openers in that respect, she is also a little bit frustrating at times – but she definitely got under my skin and it’s quite an addictive read. That being said, I’m not entirely sure that this is the sort of book I’d recommend to you as it seems outside of your normal kind of read. Like I said though, it is quite addictive once you get going, even if things are annoying you at certain points you can’t resist the urge to pick it up.
      Lynn 😀

  7. waytoofantasy

    Fantastic review! I’m so eager to read this one, even more so after seeing some reviews about it, because it sounds just like my type of thing.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I actually think this would be your type of thing tbh. You need to be patient and it can be frustrating in parts but there are reasons behind everything and it really is quite addictive.
      Lynn 😀

  8. Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

    Yay glad you liked it! Reading this right now and enjoying it so far! And oh man, there’s *something* about the writing style that’s definitely addictive and compulsively readable and I love it.

    • @lynnsbooks

      There’s something really compulsive about this read – not sure I can put my finger on it and I did have a few issues but overall just couldn’t stop reading.
      Lynn 😀

  9. Top Ten Tuesday : Fun authors? | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Villoso – This is a fairly new to me author.  I’ve recently read and enjoyed The Wolf of Oren-Yaro and I also follow her on twitter @k_villoso – she seems like a genuinely lovely person and I […]

  10. proxyfish

    Oh! This really does sound like a fantastic read 😀

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