Book: “The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng” by K. S. Villoso
Publishing Info: Orbit, May 2021
Book Description: 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.
Review: This series started out from a fairly noncommittal position for me. I had never heard of the author before, and was, frankly, a bit put off by the series title “Chronicles of the Bitch Queen.” But, on the other hand, I have a very hard time resisting an adult high fantasy story that features a grown woman protagonist. Add to that that she’s a warrior queen. And thankfully, I let my general genre preferences rule the day, because I’ve absolutely adored this entire series. I’ll just spoil the lead here: this was the perfect conclusion to what had been an excellent series up to this point already.
The queen has finally made it home. But what had seemed like such an insurmountable challenge for the last two books was only the beginning. Her nation and its people hang together by only the merest threads. Distrusted and, often, disliked, Talyien must navigate the fraught waters full of suspicious and ruthless lords, ambitious foreign nationals, and her own perilous position as she attempts to save the son who has been stolen away from her. With the few people who remain that she trusts and depend on, Talyien must work to carve out a future for herself and her country.
Bizarrely, sometimes it’s the most hard to write reviews for a series of books where every entry is fantastic. When you’ve already raved about plotting, characters, and world-building in two earlier reviews, what do you say in a third about a book that was equally strong on all of those points?? But I’ll give it a go!
The world-building has always been fantastic in this series. But in many ways, the fantasy elements involved have been sparse and only sprinkled in here and there. We’ve heard a few mentions of dragons and the threat they had posed in times long ago, but no one thinks much about them now other than recognizing fortifications built to resist them, now crumbling with time. So I was very excited to see the dragons themselves begin to play more of a role in this book. I didn’t necessarily need this added level of straight fantasy, but I’m never going to say no to dragons!
I also liked the continued exploration of parenthood and the expectations and burdens set upon each generation from the one that came before it. We’ve seen this play out in Tali’s memories of her father, and here we get an even deeper insight into why the brutal warlord made many of the choices he did. We also see Tali and Rayyel begin to understand that they are now this generation, that their choices will shape the country and will be the bright path or heavy burden set upon not only their son but the generation of children growing up right now. It’s a very human realization and shift, and one that is strange to experience. It’s the high fantasy, grand scale version of a grown child realizing that they’re now responsible for hosting holidays! Much more complex than that, of course, but sometimes these simplest, most relatable feelings are the ones that take hold the strongest. Even when you have dragons!
I was also happy to see more of Thanh, Tali’s beloved son. For most of the series up to this point, mother and son have been separated by an ocean. And while we hear Tali’s frantic thoughts and worries over him, her deep love for him driving all of her choices, we never get to actually see their relationship in person. Not only were the two of them lovely together, but I also enjoyed Thanh as a character in his own right. There was also a shift in Rayyel, Thanh’s estranged father. Up to this point, he had been a fairly villainous character. So I was happy to see more given to his character to soften some of these aspects and make him more sympathetic.
Beyond that, everything I’ve raved about in the first two books remains true here! Tali is an excellent leading lady, flawed but constantly taking action and moving forward with the cards life has dealt her. I enjoyed the way the romantic plot line continued to unfold. And I was very impressed by the way all of the loose ends were tied together in a satisfying way here at the end of the trilogy. Fans of this series will love this thrilling conclusion! And don’t forget to enter our giveaway to win a copy of this book!
Rating 8: A fantastic end to this trilogy with higher stakes than ever while focusing on themes of parenthood and the burden of responsibility.
“The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng” is a newer title, so it isn’t on that many Goodreads lists. But it is on Fantasy Books Releasing in 2021.
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