The whole CHRONICLES OF THE BITCH QUEEN series rocketed near the top of my favourite fantasy series as soon as I started THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO, and it took me over a month to read THE DRAGON OF JIN-SAYENG because I wasn’t ready for Tali and Khine’s journey to be over.
Rating: 4.5 stars!
Thanks to Orbit for the eARC of this book. It has not affected my honest review.
Content Warnings: violence, non-graphic rape, mutilation, threat, death, animal death.
About the book:
Queen Talyien is finally home, but dangers she never imagined await her in the shadowed halls of her father’s castle.
War is on the horizon. Her son has been stolen from her, her warlords despise her, and across the sea, a cursed prince threatens her nation with invasion in order to win her hand.
Worse yet, her father’s ancient secrets are dangerous enough to bring Jin Sayeng to ruin. Dark magic tears rifts in the sky, preparing to rain down madness, chaos, and the possibility of setting her nation aflame.
Bearing the brunt of the past and uncertain about her future, Talyien will need to decide between fleeing her shadows or embracing them before the whole world becomes an inferno.
What did I think?
I never got around to reviewing THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO or THE IKESSAR FALCON so some of these points are more about the series as a whole than THE DRAGON OF JIN-SAYENG specifically. Especially when it comes to the characters. All of the characters, but particularly the main cast, are so complex. There’s no black and white moral stands to take. Instead I found myself flipping back and forth throughout the series between loving and hating so many of the characters. Even Tali, our beloved protagonist, had me desperately loving her in one chapter and being furious with her the next. It was incredible, K.S. Villoso has created characters so real that they’ve got more complexity and depth than some real people I’ve met.
THE DRAGON OF JIN-SAYENG is one of the most action packed books I’ve ever read, holy shit. Every chapter had me gasping out loud at plot twists and reveals that I didn’t see coming, and it felt like there was something happening on every few pages. It felt like threads I didn’t even realise were there suddenly pulled tight and I could see the epic scale of everything that had been unfolding over the entire trilogy, and I was overwhelmed by how clever the entire series had been.
This book was not a happy-go-lucky story. It was downright dire in a lot of places, and I remember telling my fiance ‘everything is awful’ on several occasions. It was never an overwhelming misery-fest though, the whole story was well balanced and the awful moments were necessary for the tone of the whole series. THE DRAGON OF JIN-SAYENG delves into the cost of breaking the cycle, and the self-sacrifice required to develop a nation and move past its history. Talyien is desperate to improve conditions for her people, to fix the problems in her nation and save lives. She’s desperate to move out of her father’s shadow, no matter the cost, and it’s that desperation that makes for such a sharp and brutal storyline. I wanted so badly for everything to be fixed, and so her uphill battle had me on an emotional rollercoaster until the last page. The ending wasn’t quite what I had envisioned, or what I wanted, but it was an incredible ending to an incredible series and K.S. Villoso has solidified herself as a master of fantasy writing and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Release Date: 4th May 2021