I’m coming back from my (unannounced) hiatus to talk about The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng—the most-anticipated conclusion to The Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy by K.S. Villoso. I read the first two books last year and I was thoroughly captivated by their grit and detailed world-building. Now, the trilogy has finally come to an end and I’m in pieces. Might need more than 365 days to recuperate.
Personal woes aside, thank you to Caffeine Book Tours for giving me another opportunity to be a part of yet another blog tour. Make sure to check out the schedule at the latter part of this post and visit the other content creators in this tour!
The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso
Release date: May 4, 2021
Publisher: Orbit Books
Age group & Genre: Adult, Fantasy
The stunning finale to the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy where the queen of a divided land must unite her people against the enemies who threaten to tear her country apart. K. S. Villoso is a “powerful new voice in fantasy.” (Kameron Hurley)
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.
➵ Content/trigger warnings: (click to expand)ableistic language (not direct, relayed from Yeshin), death, cutting of limbs, violence against children, threatening a child, blood descriptions, animal cruelty, misogyny, rape (off screen), emotional abuse, lifechanging injury, execution, torture, mutilation of corpses, gore, decapitation
➵ On-page representation: (click to expand)Filipino, Victim of emotional abuse and gaslighting
Thank you to Orbit Books and Caffeine Book Tours for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Quotes used in this review are from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS ON THE DRAGON OF JIN-SAYENG:
• The unraveled mysteries left me breathless
K.S. Villoso did not pull any punches in this book. It was both amazing and haunting to witness the blurry details from the first two books finally sharpen and stab me straight to the heart. Reading this book made me want to believe all the lies instead of learning the truths that I know will be painful. In the middle of all the intrigue is Talyien—a queen, a wife, a mother, and a daughter who is haunted by her father’s plans and actions. Villoso masterfully ties all loose ends by picking apart Warlord Yeshin’s plans and true intentions, confronting how the machinations of a dead man can influence the present so much.
My father had hardened me for nothing but slaughter. Everything I had been taught, everything I’ve felt in his presence and beyond, my very being was the true cage. My every step had been determined, anticipated, manipulated, all so we could use that putrid exhalation from hell for our own purposes.
I was also satisfied with how the revelations were delivered in The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng. The plot twists in this book were unexpected, leaving me breathless to the point of pausing just to calm my heart down.
• It continues to portray politics in a nuanced and hard-hitting way
Nobody writes politics like K.S. Villoso. This series shows the ugliness of people in power and how they are often out of touch from reality, neglecting the needs of the masses while they squabble amongst themselves. There was one scene in this book that stood out to me where a commoner confronted Talyien about her shortcomings. I admire that this book, and this series in general, does not flinch away from asking royals for accountability. Here, we can see how flawed Talyien is as a queen, which is not something that you can see often in other books.
But I will say that the thought of invaders left and right fills me with unease. I hope you know what you’re doing. I hope you remember you’re our queen. I hope you never forget that your people are at your mercy.
There are also a lot of uncanny parallels between Jin-Sayeng and Philippine politics, which hit me hard while reading. There’s nothing like seeing a fictional kingdom on the brink of hell reminding me of my country (which is also suffering from incompetent governance). Oh joy.
• It will keep you guessing about the characters’ true intentions
The characters in this series are so complex they make me want to pull all my hair out. I held my breath page after page because I didn’t know who was going to stab Talyien in the back (literally and figuratively) next. Every character has their own intentions, and most of them are sinister rather than pure. Because of the characters’ complexities, I was often at a loss with how I was supposed to feel for some of them. For example, I wanted to kill Rayyel for half of the book but I still couldn’t help but feel for him in some moments and I hated myself for that. Other characters like General Ozo, Lo Bahn, Kaggawa, and Chiha also gave me pause. I’m not going to elaborate because spoilers but I’m just amazed at how good Villoso is with writing characters.
• It is both action-packed and emotional
The action-packed part is easy to explain. The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng features betrayals, stabbings, murders, fighting while on a horse, fighting while riding a dragon, and heads flying off. The emotional part is much harder to explain because talking about it leaves me in such a mess. The angst in this book was everything I wanted and more. There’s Rayyel being an asshole but also pining for Talyien’s love, knowing that he has already lost it. This series shows how love is meaningless if you can’t fight for the person who owns your heart.
But I would have preferred you showed your hand, even if it damned our lives. Politics should have never come between us. If you loved me, you should have screamed it from one corner of the nation to the next. You should have left me with no doubts. You should have fought for us, damn you.
And then there’s Khine. The only man in this world who deserves rights. He’s the one Talyien loves but her duty to the throne bars her from expressing that love. It hurts more because you can see how Talyien yearns for love and yet she believes she does not deserve it. Seeing these two characters dance around their feelings because so much hangs in the balance destroyed me so thoroughly.
With Khine, even when I was grappling for answers, even when I could feel the uncertainty bearing down on us like a windstorm, I didn’t want to be anywhere else.
• It offers a satisfying conclusion to a remarkable trilogy
This conclusion did not disappoint. The high stakes, the masterful prose, the dragons—everything lined up just right to deliver an unforgettable punch up to the last page. Since book one, this series delivered a great character study of a female ruler who is flawed in so many ways but is a formidable queen nonetheless. The journey to the end of this story was exhausting, bloody, and brutal, but I was satisfied with how it ended.
If I could be queen again, I would show them. I could rise from these ashes and be the leader they had yearned for all these years.
The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng is a hauntingly brilliant conclusion to a series that is unlike any other. It tied up loose ends and offered a hopeful finale after pages of pain and suffering. I highly recommend this series to fans of epic fantasy with intricate world-building and a lot of angst.
Thank you once again to Caffeine Book Tours! I have so many highlights and I still want to say more things but I don’t want to spoil anybody. You just have to read this book (or this series if you haven’t yet) and discover all the greatness yourself.
(oh and i guess today marks my 3rd blogging anniversary! i had fun posts planned but unfortunately i can’t work on them at the moment because im busy with uni. im sad about this but im hoping to come back with more posts soon. just wanted to thank everyone for your support all these years. i love yall!!)
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
K.S. Villoso was born in a dank hospital on an afternoon in Albay, Philippines, and things have generally been okay since then. After spending most of her childhood in a slum area in Taguig (where she dodged death-defying traffic, ate questionable food, and fell into open-pit sewers more often than one ought to), she and her family immigrated to Vancouver, Canada, where they spent the better part of two decades trying to chase the North American Dream. She is now living amidst the forest and mountains with her family, children, and dogs in Anmore, BC.