Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Ikessar Falcon (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #2) by K.S. Villoso

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Ikessar Falcon (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #2) by K.S. Villoso.  I really enjoyed the Wolf of Oren-Yaro, my review is here.  And here’s the description for the second instalment:

TheKFAbandoned 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.

Expected publication : September 2020

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.