Today I am delighted to review (if somewhat belatedly) The Ikessar Falcon, the second book in the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen by K. S. Villoso. I reviewed the first book – The Wolf of Oren-Yaro earlier this year (here), and I have eagerly been anticipating the second book and it didn’t disappoint and now I am looking forward to the third book in the series.
Disclaimer – I received an e-arc via netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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.
The Ikessar Falcon was one of my most anticipated sequels for this year, after reading The Wolf of Oren-Yaro back in January and falling in love with every part of the world and characters that Villoso has created. The second book in the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen certainly lived up to both the first book and the groundwork that had been laid there, and my hopes and expectations for this book. I was hooked from the beginning, and the twists and turns had me unable to stop reading and have left me craving more.
I loved the worldbuilding that was done in the first book, and the Ikessar Falcon has taken that and expanded on that greatly, revealing the breadth and depth that Villoso has created. It was fascinating learning more about the power dynamics of this world, the shifting allegiances and alliances, and to dive into the more fantastical elements of this world. Dragons, there are Dragons (have I mentioned there are Dragons? If I wasn’t already completely sold on these books, that would have been the tipping point). We also get to learn more about the magical system, it’s rules and limitations, and how it was used to manipulate the world around the characters and how far-ranging the consequences could be, and it was interesting to see the differences between the localised impact of these fantastical elements on Tali and her companions and their journey and situation, and the broader implications to the world beyond them.
I also can’t talk about the worldbuilding without once again finding my mouth watering over the cuisine that is described, and I would love to go on a culinary tour through this world.
The Ikessar Falcon also saw a greater exploration of the societal systems within this world, as well as the political structure, and all the intricacies and scheming that went into that. There were so many layers to this, with new characters with their own motivations, roles and status entering the field, as well as the cast that we’d been introduced to previously. The tension was drawn tight because this was a dangerous game for Tali who had fewer pieces to use than most, and far more to lose.
As with the Wolf of Oren-Yaro, this book is very character-driven, and it was great to dive in again and reunite with the characters from the first book, as well as meeting a whole cast of new ones. Tali saw so much development during this book, learning so much about herself, her role as Queen and even her own country. You get the impression that you are watching a flawed gem slowly being polished, as events and interactions, and the weight of her journey and choices shapes her into the person she has the potential to be, and she is my favourite character flaws and all. Khine remains another favourite – and I worry about him as the world around them grows more dangerous. The other characters all have their own motivations and complexities, and you can see them all grow and change throughout the book.
Villoso’s writing is wonderful, starkly beautiful and wonderfully imaginative, and it brings the world and characters to life. While her ability to convey emotion means that you are drawn into this tangled world, and wind up caring for all the characters regardless of how likeable they are (or aren’t as the case may be). The fight scenes were intense, and there were many moments in this book where my jaw dropped or my breath caught, and yet the action was well-balanced with humour, development and quieter moments between the characters.
The Ikessar Falcon is a book that delivers across the board, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it (and the entire series). It has everything – character, plot and worldbuilding – so whatever you’re looking for you will find it here, all wrapped in a writing style that weaves the story around you and pulls you along for the ride alongside the characters.
The Ikessar Falcon (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #2) – K.S. Villoso –
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.