Publisher : Orbit Books
Genre : Adult | Fantasy
Page Count: 496
Synopsis : 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.(from Goodreads)
*I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review*
CW: public punishment, gore, xenophobia, kidnapping, imprisonment, death, injury, attempted murder.
From the very first sentence, I knew that I was in for a ride, reading THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO and I was definitely not wrong. Although the book was vastly and drastically different from what I expected it to be and from what it seemed to be in its very first pages, once I adjusted my expectations and got going, it blew me away, and kept blowing me away until the very last page, making me crave the sequel while simultaneously causing me a HUGE amount of emotional distress and I WANT TO SUE!!!
I’ve procrastinated writing this review for weeks because I had too much to say, didn’t know what exactly to say or how to keep it non-spoilery, and now…I forgot everything I wanted to say, or well, most things I wanted to say so this review will probably turn out to be the most chaotic one I write as of yet. “Where are your notes?” I hear you asking, well, I have a couple but I was so sucked in that I forgot to write most of my thoughts down, so that alone is indication enough of how much I loved the book. Right off the bat, I was taken by the narration, the writing style is very representative of Talien as a protagonist, it’s a mix of serious and funny, the funny side being equal parts sarcasm and self-deprecation. A bitch queen after my own heart.
Like I mentioned, THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO drew me in for the very first sentence. That’s the truth, but not the whole truth. Although the first sentence was one of the best and most powerful ones I’ve ever read, it only managed to carry me through the first few pages of the book, afterwards my excitement kind of died down and even though I was still somewhat interested I started doubting how much I’d enjoy the book, especially since the world was confusing me and the story wasn’t heading the way I thought it was heading. But after the 20-ish% mark and once I got a grasp of what the story was shaping up to be, everything went smooth sailing and I thought that the spin it took was even better than what I was expecting out of it.
What’s the story like? You ask. Well, THE WOLF OF OREN-YARO is the character driven story of a queen who is hated by her people and who everybody is trying to kill for one reason or another. The queen’s name is Talien and her character arc and exploration are some of the best I’ve ever read, I was impressed by how much the author was able to do with her character and how much she put her through. It was genuinely A LOT but also so well paced and well distributed and realistic and it didn’t feel like a reach, everything she went through fit in the context of the book and of her growth as a woman and a queen.
Talien is an amazing character to follow and a very fascinating one. One of her major challenges is the fact that she inherited her brutal father’s reputation as a tyrant and a murderer but deep down that’s not who she is, or at least not entirely. So seeing that battle between who everyone sees her at and the facade she has to put up and who she wants to be and wants to be seen as was very interesting, especially since it wasn’t this loud or in your face part of the book, it was just sort of…implicitly there and you get to witness it as it happens. Talien is blunt and hot headed, definitely too impulsive for her own good at times, she’s very distrustful and for a reason, she doesn’t know who to trust, and even you, as a reader, don’t know who’s on who’s side and that was the most roller coaster like, anxiety inducing, reading experience I had had in a while.
Talien’s journey is not only emotional as I talked about above, but it’s also physical as she travels through a considerable distance, gets betrayed and backstabbed, trying to uncover what went wrong, why and who is trying to assassinate her, and the more she discovers, the more the plot thickens and she realizes how little she actually knows and that the people she should trust aren’t necessarily those she would go for.
My favorite thing about this book is that even though it’s introspective and very in tune with the main character’s growth, it still manages to keep high stakes and to keep the reader engaged in them, and I feel like managing both those things is a character driven story while keeping it character driven is an incredible feat.
Do I recommend?
ONE BIG FAT YES! YES YES YES! If you’re into character driven epic fantasy with political focus and high stakes, this is the book for you.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.