Title: The Wolf of Oren-Yaro
Author: K.S. Villoso
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication date: 18 February 2020
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
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.
Hello, I previously announced that I’m on a semi-blogging hiatus, except for planned posts. Still on hiatus (I am SO ready to graduate!!) but please enjoy my review for The Wolf of Oren-Yaro! I don’t feel like it’s one of my best review but if I still feel terrible about it after graduation, I do intent to pick this book up again before the release of its sequel. (I read the book and wrote this review in 2019)
As always, thank you to Shealea for all your hard work at Caffeine Book Tours. Please check the link after the review to see what everyone else thought of the book!
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
*I received a finished copy via Caffeine Book Tours in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*
The Wolf of Oren-Yaro follows Talyien, the Dragonlord of Jin-Sayeng, five years after her husband left her to rule over their already divided people. Issues and disagreements have been piling up for years, and the generals surrounding her are watching her every move. To keep the peace, she agrees to leave her land to the foreign city of Anzhao for peace talks with her estranged husband. Already out of her depth, she finds herself on the run when the negotiations go awry. Alone, in a nation unfamiliar to her, Talyien must survive the unknown if she wishes to return home.
I’ll admit it; I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I decided to apply to join this blog tour. But I’m delighted I did. Oren-Yaro is a staggering journey of survival. From story to characters, to overall setting, this book was a unique read. Villoso delivers on what she sets out to achieve, and while I found myself a little overwhelmed by the world, the focus of this story wasn’t something I could pinpoint in certain moments, but I liked it like that. Which sounds very weird since, as a reader, I like having some awareness of where the story could go as I’m reading, but honestly, I flew through this book so quickly, I didn’t even care. This book was a wild ride, so much was happening; it all didn’t settle in until I reached the very last page.
The main plot is essentially Talyien on the run after the botched peace meeting, and from there on out, she’s on her own until she’s joined by an unlikely companion who is yet to realise the severity of her situation. For the first time, she is without royal status so she must be resourceful when handling incoming enemies. My first initial reaction to Talyien was that I was a little wary. I thought I wouldn’t like her as a character. For a while, I didn’t get why she was hung up on her husband and why she was so determined to believe he was the same man that she had fallen in love with. But under her “Bitch Queen” exterior, the one who is quick to insult the nearest individual was an insecure person who has a lot to lose should her plan go sideways. She is the daughter of a ruthless warlord, and she was left to inherit the violent legacy he left behind. Her marriage was supposed to save the land, but instead leaves her life, and her son, in extreme danger where the scale can tip at any given moment. Because of this, she is continually jumping from one threat to another, not thinking really about her actions because her survival is her #1 priority. When your family is notoriously known for being murderous and violent, I was thrilled to see that she wasn’t stereotyped to fit that one role.
As I mentioned before, Talyien is accompanied by a surprising character. Khine is a con man, loyal to a local lord who momentarily holds Talyien under his thumb. He was a fantastic character; I wasn’t too sure how I would feel about such a soft-hearted character amid all this darkness. But, honestly, his arc is pulled off so well, I enjoyed his backstory. The entire book is dependent on its people to guide you. While the world-building is immense and detailed, the people will grab your interest, even when you hate their guts.
If you had to ask for something remotely critical, I would say the pacing is not going to be for every reader that picks this book up. The story takes its time to gain momentum, and it will depend on you as reader whether you’ll find it boring or exciting. I found it quite compelling, and it allowed me to get to understand the world because I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if I didn’t have the build-up beforehand. Also, I enjoyed the flashbacks to Talyien’s time as a child and growing up as a princess. As a reader who finds them more of a miss than hits, it helped with the story.
Overall, The Wolf of Oren-Yaro was a smash of a series opener. Villoso takes us all on a thrilling ride to remember. Talyien’s story is far from over, the danger continues, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. This is a story not to be missed!
About the author
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.
Unfortunately, Shut up, Shealea is currently down, which means there is no launch post to redirect you to but please check out the Caffeine Book Tours Twitter for easier access for most information!