What I’m Reading: The Ikessar Falcon

Banner pic featuring cover of The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso superimposed over zoomed in portion of cover. Text of banner reads "Off The TBR" and "What I'm Reading.

My fifth book of the year is one I’ve sat on since September. Orbit sent it to me at my own request and as is usual one thing after another came up and I’m just now getting to it. I might have put it off longer if it weren’t for a recent dust up on Twitter which I’ll discuss below.

So what am I reading? It’s The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso.

Cover pic of The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso.
Cover of The Ikessar Falcon
Cover Design: Lauren Panepinto
Cover Illustration: Simon Goinard
Click Here For Goodreads Synopsis: The stunning sequel to The Wolf of Oren-yaro where the queen of a divided land struggles to unite her people. Even if they despise her. K. S. Villoso is a “powerful new voice in fantasy.” (Kameron Hurley) 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.

The Ikessar Falcon is the second book in The Chronicles of the Bitch Queen series by K.S. Villoso. The series started out in self-publishing with The Wolf of Oren-Yaro. That book (and the series) was picked up by Orbit and published by them in February of 2020. The Ikessar Falcon was subsequently released in September 2020. I first read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro in its self-published format and then read the Orbit edition and LOVED both. It’s a fantastic, character driven, fantasy inspired by the author’s Pilipino heritage and culutre. You can read my review here. I’ve followed and interacted with Villoso on Twitter for a couple/few years now and she’s awesome. She has some excellent commentary on Own Voices and BIPOC threads in publishing as well as her own specific experiences in living within multiple cultures. Beyond that she seems like an all around great person living in the mountains of Canada with her family and dogs. She posts some really great hiking pics if you like that kind of thing.

I put off book 2 at first because I was in the middle of Self-Published Fantasy Month in September and then…well…other stuff. Yeah no real good excuse after September but I WAS reviewing other Orbit titles if that makes a difference? No? Not really? OK fine.

I was still going to read some other books in front of this one until last week when Locus Magazine published a review of The Ikessar Falcon that stated the book didn’t make sense to the reviewer even as they admitted they had never read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro. Apparently this reviewer also has a history of bad faith reviews of books by BIPOC authors. This caused a day long storm on Book Twitter after which Locus pulled the review and made a promise to do better. I wasn’t impressed by Locus’ apology and am frankly still a bit ticked off by it. It occurred to me that I still needed to read and review this book, and that I should no longer put it off. So here we are. I’m a few chapters in and already falling back into the swing of things with Tali, her drama, and all the excitement. I can’t wait to finish it.

Have you read either book in this series? If so what did you think? Let me know in the comments.

Jason

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