When Orbit picks up one of your favorite books, it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to read the new version, amirite?
This is happening not once but twice this year for me!
So, thanks to the author, as well as Orbit (via NetGalley) for the review copy!
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 called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me. Hurricanes destroy the villages and they call it senseless; the winter winds come and they call it cold. What else did they expect from my people, the Oren-yaro, the ambitious savages who created a war that nearly ripped Jin-Sayeng apart? I almost think that if my reign had started without bloodshed and terror, they would have been disappointed.
Maaan I forgot how much I absolutely loved this book, and Tali, until I cracked this baby open and started from the beginning again.
I don’t reread books very often, unless I am in a situation like this one. It’s fairly rare, considering the amount that I read in a year, to find books that I’d like to reread. This is definitely one of them.
This is the story of Talyien aren dar Orenar, the Queen of Jin-Sayeng. The first ever Queen of Jin-Sayeng, and from the often-brutal clan of the Oren-yaro, at that. She was born betrothed to Rayyel Ikkessar, the heir to the Dragonthrone and the son of the leader of a rival clan. So, they were married. They had a son. They were all set to rule jointly, just as their families promised… and then Rayyel left the day before they were crowned.
Five years later, Tali has ruled to the best of her ability, alone, and trying to keep a country full of rival warlords from killing each other, when Rayyel sends her a letter asking to meet… in a city across the sea. Hoping for possible reconciliation, Tali goes. The meeting ends up being an assassination attempt, not only on her but on Rayyel as well, and Tali ends up alone and lost in the foreign Anzhao City.
She befriends a local con-artist-slash-former-medical-student, and he helps her find her way back to where she needs to be… though not without a hearty scoop of shenanigans along the way. Everything from bandits, to crazy princes, to dragons.
This is a very immersive book. I sat down with this one and before I knew it I was a quarter of the way through it. It reads really smoothly, and Tali tells her own story very well. Everything is described in enough detail that I had no problems imagining anything. Food, especially, is talked about a lot here, and as such, I had to put down the book to make food a couple of times. Not a problem though, as it’s always nice to have a little something to read while you’re chowing down on an entire unplanned batch of muffins.
Tali is one of those characters that you can’t help but cheer for, but who also doesn’t always make the best decisions. I want all of the best things for Tali, but she very realistically does not have the sort of street smarts that she needs to not die horribly in the slums of a dangerous city. But she’s going to try anyway, because she isn’t weak and refuses to seem weak in front of anyone, whether they know who she is or not. Enter Khine: the all-around-good-guy-except-for-the-con-artist-thing. I want everything good in the entire universe for Khine because he is kind of impossible not to like. He’s just a good dude. He helps Tali even when there’s really nothing in it for him. There aren’t many people like that in Tali’s world.
Fantastically written and full of ups and downs and twists and turns and events that, had I not known they were coming because I’ve read this book before, would have surprised me all over again. Allies you can’t help but love, enemies that you can’t help but loathe, and a main character who navigates through an unfamiliar world of magic, monsters, and maniacs with a sword, some snark, and stubbornness. This is an even better read the second time around, but I’m still kind of jealous of all those people who get to read it for the first time and experience all of the surprises it has in store. 5/5 stars!~