Originally posted on Leah’s Books.
The Jasmine Throne
- Author: Tasha Suri
- Genre: Fantasy
- Publication Date: June 8, 2021
- Publisher: Orbit
- Series: Burning Kingdoms #1
Thank you to Orbit for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
CONTENT WARNING: violence, murder, gore, grief, blood
Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother.
Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.
Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.
But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.
This book has been on my TBR forever, and I’m going to have to be forever grateful to Orbit for sending me this gorgeous copy (as well as the early copy of the second book in the series), because it forced me to finally get off my butt and read it. This is one of those books that I knew from the very first chapter that I was going to love. And it definitely fills a hole in the market for desi sapphic fantasy, which I haven’t seen yet, but absolutely hope to see more of.
There are a bunch of POV characters, although it mainly focuses on five main characters. A few characters get one or two chapters to share their POV, but I loved how it was done, allowing us to see a different perspective in a world where there is a lot going on. And the characters aren’t all likable, most of them are morally gray, but it’s easy to empathize with them since they’re all simply fighting for survival. And for so many of them, especially the ones like Priya, who have spent their whole life accepting the little bit that they have, all they want is a little bit more:
“She couldn’t be the person she’d been reared to be. But maybe, just maybe, she could allow herself to want a little more than what she had. Just a little.”
Some characters retain a softer heart, like Priya, using the little bit of privilege she has gained to help others. Other characters, like Malini, learn how to survive by manipulation, but pay the price in other ways.
“Weep enough, and your nature becomes like stone, battered by water until it is smooth and impervious to hurt. Use tears as a tool for long enough, and you will forget what real grief feels like.”
The world-building is absolutely amazing. There’s a fabulous magic system running through Ahiranya, a territory within an Indian-inspired subcontinent. And Ahiranya is subjugated by a power that is currently in control over the entire subcontinent, ruled by an Emperor who rules with an iron fist and a strict adherence to a cruel religious belief. Misogyny runs rampant under Emperor Chandra, and all the people of Ahiranya want is their freedom.
“‘Every city-state of Parijatdvipa, every highborn and king and prince, is bound to Emperor Chandra by ancient vows. But Ahiranya is not bound by vow or choice. Ahiranya is a conquered nation. So of course, all rebels in our land dream of an Ahiranya that is free.’”
I absolutely flew through this book, constantly wanting to read more and find out what would happen next. The different POVs kept me intrigued, since it offers insight into what is happening in the mind of various characters, as well as in different areas of the empire. The rule of the emperor affects the different regions in various ways, although it seems to affect Ahiranya most deeply, and while there was a big setup for the events of the next book, there was plenty of action in this book to keep me focused and intrigued. I’m dying to get started on the next book, and can’t wait to see what happens in The Oleander Sword!