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I am, indeed, very late to reading and reviewing this wonderful gem! The Wolf Of Oren-Yaro has been on my bookish wish list ever since I heard of it on Twitter. Now, that I’ve read the book, *inhales deeply* GET YOURSELF A COPY! Y’all it’s ah-may-zing! If there’s one book you want to treat yourself to, it’s this one!
THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO BY K.S. VILLOSO
BOOK ONE OF CHRONICLES OF THE BITCH QUEEN
A queen of a divided land must unite her people, even if they hate her, even if it means stopping a ruin that she helped create. A debut epic fantasy from an exciting new voice.
“I murdered a man and made my husband leave the night before they crowned me.”
Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come.
But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair.
Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.
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I received a physical copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Brash, cunning, so called “unlikable” women are my favourite ones to read of. The Wolf Of Oren-Yaro is both a character driven and plot driven fantasy book. The main character, Queen Talyien, certain lives up to the name of the series. This is the kind of book that is so hard to stop reading. For one, it was hard to keep my eyes off of the dumpster fire that Queen Talyien’s choices. That might not sound like a compliment but it is because nothing in this book went according to what Talyien wanted. Each choice led to an even worse consequence and so on.
Just a little recap here: after the bloody War of the Wolves, the nation believed that the betrothal between the opposing clans of Orenar and Ikessar would help bring peace to the nation. It was by her marriage to Rayyel Ikessar that Talyien became the first Queen of the nation. However, on the day of their coronation Rayyel leaves without so much as an explanation. He left his wife, his son, the throne and his nation, disappearing for five years. It is after five years that he sends a letter to Talyien asking that they meet. And thus begins Talyien’s misadventures.
While it was her devotion to her nation and her son that had drove her Anzhao City to meet with her husband, Rayyel, she also did so in the hopes that they would reconcile and somehow rule their nation together. But then we met Rayyel and to be honest, I hated him. His character is so indifferent and stone-hearted. He constantly turned his nose up at Talyien, being so full himself and blaming her for the problems in their marriage. Knowing how he was I hated that Talyien still felt love for him and risked her life to save him. There are so many parts in this novel that I wished I could reach in and shake Talyien…
…and then parts where I felt so soft for the woman.
As Queen, Talyien’s life is shaped by the nation she governs. Though she tries to do right by her people, the warlords continue to push against her, and it doesn’t help that her hold on the throne has grown weaker the longer Rayyel remains away. The legacy of Yeshin, Talyien’s father, envelops her and is pretty much the lens through which people see her.
The author has mentioned that they drew Talyien’s character from the Filipino women and I saw this reflected in how Talyien’s love for her family drove every decision she made. As a reader, on the surface they might seem like the wrong choice but when it’s the choice that helps your family, you chose whether it’s right or wrong. And this is the reality of the Filipino women; they are the ones who keep the family afloat, take care of their immediate family and their relatives, they are expected to be the ideal mother, should they choose to pursue a career they are still expected to maintain the household. The loyalty and devotion of a Filipino woman is reflected in Talyien. That is the kind of strength we don’t often get to see in female characters and what I believe should be celebrated more.
The worldbuilding is amazing! I love how the author described each city and its people without any info-dumping. Societal issues like xenophobia and class inequality are portrayed from the slums of Anzhao City to the fortress like city of Zorheng. Through Talyien we come to understand the political ramifications on the people and what they do to survive. We especially get a better understanding of this from Khine who is a con artist slash disgraced physician and is a local of Anzhao city. I really like how the author wrote about these issues by not just saying, “hey, these are evil and should be done away with!” but rather chose to show us how these issues came to be about. The author did not simply write the societal evils and simply left it to be as “part of the world-building,” instead they took the time to show readers what kind of circumstances and abuse of power led to this kind of society.
I especially enjoyed Talyien’s relationship with Khine. She is constantly confused whenever Khine helps her without asking for anything in return. Their friendship develops before Khine knows that she is a queen and even after knowing it he never treats her with a distant formality. He sees her as Tali and that is all that Talyien has ever wanted. I love their interactions and how annoyed Talyien gets whenever her attempts to leave him behind fail.
Overall, I really loved this book and hope Rayyels gets skewered at some point in the second book. For me, this has been one of the best reads of the year. I found myself completely sucked into the story and could not put down at all!
🌺 Have you read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro or do you plan on picking it up?
🌺 What is your idea of a strong female character?
🌺 Do you feel you would relate to Queen Talyien?
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