I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for a honest review. The Wolf of Oren-yaro seems to have a little bit of everything. It’s told through the view of Queen Talyien, as she tries to reconcile with her husband who left 5 years ago on the eve of their coronation. The book follows her on a journey of personal discovery and reconciliation; a journey of love, and loss; friendships and betrayal; family and politics.
Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Talyien aren dar Orenar’s life unfolded like a storybook. The shining jewel and legacy of the War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart, her marriage to the Ikessar heir, Rayyel, spoke of peaceful days to come.
But all storybooks must end. Rayyel suddenly left the night before they were to be crowned, leaving the land as divided as before.
Years later, in the midst of the warlords’ rising tensions, Talyien receives a message from Rayyel, urging her to meet with him in the Empire of Ziri-nar-Orxiaro. An assassination attempt interrupts Talyien’s quest for reconciliation, sending the queen struggling in a strange and dangerous land. With betrayals in every twist and turn, she is forced to enlist the help of a con-artist to survive and save her husband from the clutches of those who would seek to use him for their gain…if he would let her.
Villoso does a fair bit of worldbuilding and develops unique cultures for the various cities and countries visited. Everywhere is a little bit different, which is shown through the awkwardness Talyien experiences in foreign cities, and how she stands apart from the average person because she’s used to a different culture.
There is some interesting recent history leading up to the present events, and a small amount of ancient history where we learn that people used to ride dragons, but the knowledge is now lost. Magic is also briefly touched upon; it’s outlawed in Talyien’s kingdom, but practiced in other empires. I hope to see this further built upon in the rest of the series.
I expected the plot for this book to be pretty straightforward. It wasn’t. Talyien goes to meet with her husband and do “political things”™ to save the kingdom and her family. She finds herself outside her comfort zone in a foreign city, and then assassins appear, and suddenly everything becomes very interesting.
Queen Talyien is the main character of this book, and the story is told through her eyes. Villoso’s use of first person gives us access to the inner conflicts of Talyien as she juggles her responsibilities as a queen, wife, mother and daughter.
Talyien is thrust into various situations she has no experience dealing with. Her training as a warrior and a queen has never prepared her for the challenges she faces throughout the book, and Villoso does an excellent job of portraying Talyien’s struggles, thoughts and feelings.
All the other characters are built through Talyien, and her experiences and opinions of them, which provides a unique and sometimes flawed view into the other characters. A few times Talyien is focused more on how she once knew a person to be rather than how they are today, and this provides their background, and shows their development over the years.
Overall, Villoso has done a fantastic job of creating her characters, and I loved reading about them.
I really loved reading this book from the point of view of Talyien. It gave me a unique insight into the way she thought, and let me see her view on what was happening throughout the events of the book. The use of first person POV is fantastic for building the world through Talyien’s eyes, and developing her character. I struggled a little bit early on working out who all the characters were, and why the places mentioned were significant, but everything started to come together, and I understood the background and importance of events fairly early on.
I really loved this book. Villoso has done so many amazing things, and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series and see where this ends up. The Wolf of Oren-yaro is due to release on the 29th of January 2018.
This book is probably best for people who like:
- Character focused books
- Political fantasy
- First person POV
- Female MC
- Twists and turns