The Wolf of Oren-yaro follows the story of Queen Talyien of the Jin-Sayeng, the first woman to ever sit the Dragonthrone. Her marriage to the rival clan’s heir, Rayyel, was supposed to unite the fractured lands, ruled by warring Dragonlords. However, Rayyel leaves the night before their coronation, and she is crowned alone. Five years later, Rayyel has finally requested a meeting with his wife, and Talyien is all too eager to reconcile, even if she might be walking into a trap.
If I’m being honest- this story is not quite what I was hoping for. There is action and adventure, there is political intrigue, but mostly, this is a story about a failed marriage, and a woman who would go to seemingly any length to make it work. I was often frustrated with the amount of inner monologue dedicated to the husband when Tali also had a son at home to think about. I was frustrated at the selfishness of her, at the infuriating decisions she makes.
Despite the fact that I am also a single mother, I found Talyien very hard to relate to. I know every family situation is different, and Talyien’s choices are valid, but felt very dated. Almost every scene that brought up Rayyel I was thinking to myself- “Why hasn’t she kicked him to the curb yet?!” I wanted her to want to be more independent then she seemed, and at the end, during the final climactic scene, I was pretty disappointed with her feelings on the matter. Her husband is definitely not the sort of man I’d waste breath on, that’s for sure.
My issues with Tali aside- it doesn’t take long for the action to start, and the action scenes strike the perfect balance of excitement without overextending themselves. Tali finds herself in all kinds of interesting situations, and if you aren’t looking too closely at the logic of the plot, I think the right reader could have a lot of fun with this book. There were some scenes I found myself laughing along with, and it kept the pages turning.
The writing was mostly good. There were a few places where it felt amateurish and the dialogue a little stiff- but for the most part I have few complaints. The pacing could use a little work. The book seemed like it fell into a pattern at some point- we’d get some action, then a flashback scene, and then a few chapters of Tali’s thoughts on the whole thing. I wasn’t always sure the flashback scenes were needed, although they did occasionally give some nice backstory.
I’m not really sure this book or series is right for me, but plenty of readers are already enjoying it, so take my review with a grain of salt. The Wolf of Oren-yaro released on February 18, 2020 and can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon. Thank you to Orbit Books who provided an eGalley in exchange for an honest review!