The synopsis for this made it sound a gritty and compelling read. While the latter is true, it didn’t have the grimdark vibes I anticipated. Instead, it was a softer tale pivoting around how far someone would go for love and duty. Here’s my review on The Wolf of Oren-Yaro.
Publisher: Little Brown, Book Group | Date: 2020 | Genre: Fantasy
Plot: ‘They called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me.’
Born under the towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien inherited a deeply divided kingdom, devastated by years of war. Her marriage to the son of a rival clan was meant to herald peace, yet her fiancé disappeared before their reign could even begin.
Now, years later, Talyien receives a message that will send her across on the sea. Yet what was meant as an effort to reconcile the past leaves her stranded in a land she doesn’t know, with assassins at her back and no idea who she can trust.
If Talyien is to survive, she must embrace her namesake.
A wolf of Oren-yaro is not tamed.
I received The Wolf Of Oren-Yaro from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
The Wolf of Oren-Yaro Review
This book surprised me. Given the opening line of the synopsis, I was expecting darkness, perhaps laden with violence. There’re fights and skirmishes aplenty, true, but the plot is driven by love, and the need to do one’s duty to keep peace. It’s full of heart, and I loved it.
Talyien is an amazing protagonist. Since she was born, her destiny has been mapped out for her and she’s done her best to be true to her duty. She’s a strong and tough queen with a reputation for cutting off people’s heads.
We see that unflinching side of her. She defends herself, and reacts decisively when someone betrays her. But we also see her heart and vulnerabilities. She is driven by love and the need to reconcile and understand the events that brought her here. We watch her open up, allowing herself to let others in. Her development throughout is fantastic.
There are a lot of secondary characters with various levels of importance. Different names and hints of backstories meant it was hard to get a clear picture of who was who. Some characters, however, stood out.
Khine is the side-kick you want. Troubled and mysterious with a heart of gold, I loved him from our first introduction. His determination to help Talyien, while acknowledging it’s only the geography she needs help navigating, made me warm to him instantly. I wanted their friendship to have a chance and the delivery was satisfying.
Behind me, I heard them move to follow. My people: a doubtful captain of the guard, an ex-guard with boundary issues, and a con artist. No wonder my father was haunting me.
The pacing throughout remains steady, even when events heat up. There’s a lot of different places, names, conspiracies and ways of life to wrap your head around, which undermined a few moments. It needed a change in pace now and again to know where the climactic moments were, and where events had gone a little wrong.
The world-building is solid. You really feel these places have a long history of complicated relationships. While some of the politics got confusing, this is an intricate world with a clear history of being troubled by war. There wasn’t one place/clan that stuck out for me, but it felt like a well-crafted setting that you could, for the most part, envision.
Good writing is what drew this book together. You’ve got complex characters you root for; a world you feel you could navigate; and a gripping plot that stops you from putting the book down. A thoroughly enjoyable read with a style I’d happily read more of.
It is a few moments of confusion about some of the intricate parts of the plot that prevented me from giving five stars. Otherwise, a gripping book that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish, and I’m already tracking down the next in the series.
Does this sound like your sort of read? Have you come across this series before?
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