I first discovered K.S. Villoso in 2018 when she self published The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, the first book in the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen series, which was later picked up by Orbit and after some editing was re-released in 2020. Villoso arrived in Canada from the Philipines when she was a teenager and that background is integral to her writing. I was intrigued by her Asian inspired setting and strong female protagonist which was a refreshing change up of the typical Western European fantasy that one so often finds in the U.S. market. I very much enjoyed Villoso’s writing style and when I looked back at my notes from 2018 the first thing that jumps out to me is that I wrote that Villoso has that “It” factor that some authors just have. As many have I dabbled here and there with writing my own book and there are times when I’m reading a book and I think I probably have the ability to write something similar to what I am reading and then there are times when I read a book and I know I could never write with the same level of skill as that author and Villoso definitely fits into that latter category for me.
Villoso turned to Kickstarter to fund Outlaw Mage which is a spinoff series set in the same world as the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen with a new PoV character and storyline. Rosha a young mage who was a prodigy until she had a test at the end of her magical schooling that went poorly causing her to snap and abruptly leave the school, thus becoming an outlaw mage. While Rosha was a prodigy she also had the misfortune of being born from the wrong ethnic group so she had been teased and held back her entire life. If her father hadn’t been rich she most likely would have been a mage thrall and been forced into a life of servitude to another mage from the dominant cultural background of the empire she lives within.
Years later Rosha is living a quiet life helping a backwater village when her family contacts her to ask for help in finding her father who has disappeared, most likely a result of one of his many shady business deals gone wrong. Rosha begins hunting for her father and ends up entangled in a conspiracy that forces her to go against her core beliefs in order to avoid shattering the empire that she hates so that she can keep her own people safe. The book includes plenty of magic and action and was non stop entertaining from beginning to end.
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