The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K. S. Villoso reviewed

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro Book Cover The Wolf of Oren-Yaro
Chronicles of the Bitch Queen
K. S. Villoso
Little, Brown Book Group UK
February 02, 2020

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.

The blurb for The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K. S. Villoso looked interesting. “Queen of a divided land must unite her people even if they hate her”. Additionally everything refers to her as the “Bitch Queen”. In general that, as an epic/classic fantasy story, had my attention. The book follows the Bitch Queen, Talyien, in a journey to meet her husband. He left her and the kingdom five years earlier just before she was crowned and for reasons that are not clear. This is a time of warlords and warlike behaviours.

Talyien crosses the sea for the meeting requested by her husband. Despite the presence of guards and advisors all does not go well and she find herself alone in a foreign and dangerous land. Certainly some of the people she encounters in her travels are interesting. There were some very diverse people who hinder or help her in her travels and troubles. Quite a few of them I found interesting.

In general I also found Talyien, on her own, interesting. She is a character. I’m not sure I really get the “Bitch Queen” aspect of this. For someone who is a hard faced Dragonlord and mountain queen she often seems somewhat troubled. For someone who stopped loving her husband a long time ago she seems inordinately interested in finding him safe. She also seems quite confused about what she wants at times. To me, rather than a bitch, she tended to behave badly, and often unpleasantly, to people. A sharper, harder edge would be need for bitch.

While The Wolf of Oren-Yaro is generally an “epic” fantasy tale there is a lot about politics and nations. Initially I read these fairly carefully. However as time went by (and the names of states and people multiplied) I tended increasingly to skip these parts. To me they simply seemed to slow the book down and did not add enough clarity or value to the story. Talyien on her own – literally – was far more readable. However I still say that this idea of her being a “bitch queen” was unconvincing.

There is quite a lot to like about The Wolf of Oren-Yaro though I did find the political aspects less good. All in all I think it is unlikely I’ll read the next book in the series though I am quite sure that other fans of classic fantasy will enjoy this.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review