the ikessar falcon – k.s. villoso | arc review

The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso


Series: Chronicles of the Bitch Queen #2
Published September 22nd 2020 by Orbit
Age Range: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Diversity: Filipino author; POC cast; Filipino-inspired

Rating: 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis:

The spiral to madness begins with a single push.

Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worst 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 impossible horrors that unearth the nation’s true troubles – 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 of failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.



☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. Thank you!

trigger and content warnings:
  • sex, violence, war

First thing first, there’s a map! I repeat, there’s a map! & a summary of The Wolf of Oren-yaro at the beginning. For those who have bad long-term memory, like me, we have a refresher! 

K.S. Villoso’s writing is imaginative, wonderful and simple. Everything’s vivid and impactful. The author’s able to convey emotions and feelings in the most subtle ways but it catches your attention and lingers in your mind. While there were moments of danger (the fight scenes were intense), The Ikessar Falcon still had instances of laughter, building friendships and trying to trust (all of which are few and far between, but at least there’s some).

Queen Taylein still turmoils over her father. Even though he died 16 years ago, his voice and opinions still remain in her mind. As the story progresses, Taylein realises how toxic his legacy is to her. While Taylein is struggling as a queen, she’s a great warrior. When facing adversities, she’s relentless. Nothing will stop her from going home to her boy. 

In The Ikessar Falcon, Taylein tries to define the meaning of being queen in her own terms, rather than her father’s. Instead of being what she thinks she should be, she starts to discover what kind of ruler she wants to be. Queen Taylein reflects and slowly unlearns past teachings. As she travels into various parts of her kingdom, she realises that there were far more problems than she had expected or heard about. Things worsened when an old enemy came back to haunt her. 

Have you discarded who you really are because you’re not who you think you’re supposed to be? I must’ve. Trying to find yourself in a heap of broken shards shouldn’t have to be this hard.

The one person I can’t be bothered about is Agos. No thanks. I just want more Khine because he’s the most precious one out of everyone. The amount of shit he had to go through during these two books is piling up and I just want him to be happy. We get some insights to Rayyel’s actions but I still don’t care about him. 

K.S. Villoso elaborates more about the magic system and its intricacies, which gripped my attention the most. Specifically, the exploration of the agan is fascinating. How mages use agan to manipulate the natural state of the world, and how the consequences of that are felt across the country and by the people. Of course, not forgetting about the dragon sightings and fights the characters did throughout the entirety of the book. I was consistently on the edge of my seat worried for the characters especially Khine. The boy ain’t a warrior. 

The book delves further into classism and the caste system which focused on the gap between the rich and the poor, the royalty and the common men. Also, about how political scheming is done by the politicians to gain power, status or other purposes. We’re introduced to many more players in this game. Each of their motives and end goals are different. Taylein has to play her cards right regardless of how limited her choices are. She can’t afford to lose. 

Don’t think. Don’t feel. What lay inside my heart had no bearing over what needed to be done. I could listen to these words, but I wasn’t allowed to take comfort in them. The world I lived in, with all its rules and blades flashing in the dark, left little room for anything else. My every breath had been determined before I even first drew it.

Overall, an amazing sequel. It’s about a mother’s desire to be back with her son, political manoeuvrings, and constant betrayals. War is brewing. The Ikessar Falcon laid that foundation for the third and final book. I’m curious about how the conflicts will play out, and what kind of conclusion Taylein will come to about being queen (and about Rayyel). My only request is to let Khine be safe.

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