Book review: The Ikessar Falcon by K. S. Villoso

Title: The Ikessar Falcon by K. S. Villoso

Publisher: Orbit

Publication date: 22 September 2020

Genre: Adult | Fantasy

Page extent: 640 pages

Rating:

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.

WHAT JUST HAPPENED. This book is full of pain and I’m just jotting down all my thoughts immediately after finishing so prepare for a review which is basically just me screaming OH MY GOD the whole time. I love adult fantasy for many reasons, but there’s a few authors who I adore for one very simple reason: when you think everything is absolutely rock bottom for the characters you love, shit gets even worse. K. S. Villoso is one of those authors who does so exceptionally well that almost constantly throughout this book I was like okay this is it, we’re on the up, come on Talyien, I’m rooting for you! And a page later shit goes to absolute fuck. And I fucking love it.

The Ikessar Falcon is book 2 in the series that started with the incredible The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, which follows the Bitch Queen Talyien as she hunts down her husband who walked out of her life 5 years ago. We left Talyien in Zirano, where her husband Raayel had vowed to kill her son if he proved he wasn’t his. He has gone off to hunt down mages to assist him and Talyien is hot on his trail.

The Ikessar Falcon is one of those absolute masterpieces of fantasy, where the ridiculously tense and fast paced plot is just as brilliant as the deeply flawed characters keeping you hooked to the book. The four key players rile me so passionately whether I hate them or love them.

  • Talyien is just as powerful a character as we met in the first book, but in this sequel, she’s getting desperate. She is such a driven character, who makes deeply hurtful and flawed decisions in the path to save her son. There are moments I wanted to scream at her, dark moments where her actions got so low it’s so hard to stay on her side. But this is a desperate woman, one who will stop at anything to save her son who she loves more than anything in the world and even in her darkest hours, I still can’t help but admire her and the strength she has to do what’s needed, no matter the cost. (And fuck me, the cost is great).
  • Khine continues to be the most refreshing beacon of light in this book. In the midst of so much pain and darkenss, Khine shines with such hope and joy and love and his relationship with Talyien continues to be one of my favourite parts of this series.
  • Raayel continues to be on my list of most hated book characters, such is the fury he fills me with due to his hypocrisy. And I hated myself to see that I was kinda sorta maybe growing to like him by the end of this book. We get to spend a lot more time with him in this book, and so we see more of his motivations as well as see Talyien deal with her feelings and their history.
  • And Agos!! The new addition to my most hated book characters! I so adore books that can rile me up with such love and such hate towards the characters, because it shows me how exceptional that book truly is to cause such uncontrollable passion in me. Alongside Raayel, we also spent lot more time with Agos, we see the deep possessiveness he has of Talyien, the dark cloak of anger he wears and all of that dark violence and love comes to such an incredible climax at the end of the book.

Alongside the characters, we have a whole host of new elements to The Ikessar Falcon to intice us in. We spent a lot more time exploring the agan, with lots of new magical creature and creations for Talyien to run into. The highlight of these for me were the majestic, ferocious dragons who we meet. But I also loved just spending some more time around mages, finding out more about how the agan works. I really loved the blood magic element of this book, which we got more of at the start of the book. It was so dark and caused so much heartbreak. And it was so early in the book!! I was in awe at how Villoso has no fears about fucking up these characters, about putting them through hell and when they think they’re finally free, shit gets even worse. I was so shocked at some of the events in the first section of the book because so rarely do you see events THIS traumatic so early in a book. And as much pain as this causes me, I just absolutely love when authors don’t hold back and are willing to do the absolute worst to their characters.

Another, slightly more random thing I really noticed in this sequel was the fooooooood. I don’t know if I just missed it all in the first book or if it was genuinely more prominent in this one, but oh my god?! All of the food descriptions were incredible?! I was salivating the whole way through. I could not stop imagining this food, it just sounded so unbelievably delicious.

As you can probably tell, I adored this sequel! I love Villoso’s ability to completely destroy characters (and readers). I love that she isn’t afraid to play with pain, to make her characters really suffer, to take us to that edge of wow actually maybe these people that I love aren’t going to win. I love her way of writing such morally grey characters who fill you with either such love or hate (or both, hello Talyien from 80% through the book!!!) The Ikessar Falcon completely fulfilled all I hoped for and SO MUCH more. It also got me out of a reading slump so THANK YOU.

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