The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso

Title: The Ikessar Falcon

Series: Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, #2

Author: K.S. Villoso

Publisher: Orbit Books

Publishing Date:  September 24th, 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 496

Age Category & Genre: Adult, Fantasy

Purchase at: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis:

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.

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**Thank you so much to Shealea @ Caffeine Book Tours and Orbit Books for providing me a copy. This, by any means did not affect nor influence my review.**

T/CW: death, violence

WRITING, SETTING, CHARACTERS

The Ikessar Falcon is the second installment in the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen series. It continues the adventure of Talyien in a country full of enemies where she is trying to survive, to get a hold of her husband, to find her way home, to save her nation, and to save her son. It is set in more than one country allowing us to explore this world more. And is written on Talyien’s point of view. 

I didn’t expect for me to support and agree with every decision made by Talyien, just as what happened while I was reading the first book in the series. Surely, I did not. I still disagreed with her, still wanted to shake her at times, but I now definitely appreciate Talyien’s character even more. She is such a unique, well fleshed-out and complex character that breaks out of the mold people have created for characters in fiction. 

Often times, a strong character is portrayed as someone who can set always set aside their emotions, someone always logical, someone always making the right decisions. But Talyien is not. Talyien redefines what does it mean to be strong, especially as a queen, as a mother, and just as a human. She shows that one can be strong while fully embracing their humanity with all their emotions, mistakes and flaws. And for this reason that I have found Talyien as revolutionary and one that definitely stands out in this genre. 

There are new side characters introduced with many playing important roles. I still really like Khine. Though there are things I dislike about him, I also appreciate Agos. As for Rayyel, I still don’t quite like him. Though I like how we got to know more about him and his side of the story. I also find it interesting how a dead character can have such significant role. Talyien and her father, Yeshin’s, relationship is just one of the many in this book that examines and says a lot about the complexity of human relationships.

POLITICS, MAGIC, AND FILIPINO CULTURE

This series wouldn’t be complete without the political intrigue. Just what I expected after finishing The Wolf of Oren-Yaro. Aside from the main character, this book heavily focus on politics. I love how it talks about rulers who fail their people. A ruler realizing how incompetent she is, how politics at court has blinded her to what is actually happening to her nation, politicians busying themselves in their power game and neglecting the true victims of their actions—the masses. I love how it explores such topic. It is very important to have books like this, even fantasy ones.

Dragons, monsters, magic and religion were made more significant parts of the story. There are many surprising elements. At one point I even felt like I was suddenly reading a thriller and not just a high fantasy book. 

I also highly appreciate how influences of Filipino culture can be found in many aspects of this book. From Talyien’s characteristics, to the customs, to the settings. Talyien’s resiliency, pagmamano, barios, among others, felt really familiar to me as a Filipino and it feels great to be able to see my culture be represented in an internationally published high fantasy book as this is sadly unusual.  

OTHERS

I really appreciate the recap. It did not just remind me of what happened on the first installment but also helped me remember the thoughts I had. How I wish including recaps, especially in fantasy, will soon be normalized.

I still felt like an outsider watching instead of feeling like I was in the story. At some point, I also could not help but wonder how long am I going to watch a certain character be captured or be trapped then escape only to be captured or be trapped again then escape only for it to happen again and again. It is a cycle. While I do understand the reasoning and the politics behind what was going on, it was hard for me not to question whether if some plot points are still necessary because it just feel repetitive.  

OVERALL

The Ikessar Falcon tackles what it means to be a mother, a ruler, and a human. The complexity of Talyien’s character and relationships with others, her love for her son, her journey as a queen and as a daughter of her late father who played a huge part in shaping their nation, and the political intrigue, are what makes me really like and appreciate this book. I am definitely excited to see how this series will conclude. I recommend this to those who are into strong female protagonists, character-driven narratives, political intrigue, and wants to read a high fantasy book with Filipino culture influences.

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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.

Find her on: Website | Twitter

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I was originally a part of the #DethronetheDragonlord tour organized by Caffeine Book Tours but was not able to proceed due to personal reasons. If you missed the tour as well, please check out the tour schedule (click the banner below) and visit the tour stops for more reviews and contents!

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Have you read the Ikessar Falcon? Do you like the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen as well? What is your favorite adult fantasy books? Share your thoughts below!

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