The Jasmine Throne
Written by Tasha Suri
I received a review copy from NetGalley and Orbit, which does not affect my review. This was one of my most anticipated books of 2021 and I am so glad I could get an advanced reader copy.
The Jasmine Throne begins the powerful Burning Kingdoms trilogy, in which two women–a long-imprisoned princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic–come together to rewrite the fate of an empire.
Exiled by her despotic brother when he claimed their father’s kingdom, Malini spends her days trapped in the Hirana: an ancient, cliffside temple that was once the source of the magical deathless waters but is now little more than a decaying ruin. A servant in the regent’s household, Priya makes the treacherous climb to the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to play the role of a drudge so long as it keeps anyone from discovering her ties to the temple and the dark secret of her past.
But when Malini bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to steal a throne. The other is a powerful priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will set an empire ablaze.
Lush vibrant worlds
I loved Tasha Suri’s Books of Ambha and my first review for the Valkyries was me basically gushing about Empire of Sand. When I found that The Jasmine Throne was the first in a new series, you can guarantee I was excited to see what Tasha would do next and The Jasmine Throne did not disappoint.
The Jasmine Throne is inspired by Indian epics (think the Ramayana and Mahabharata) creating a lush and vibrant world. The world in The Jasmine Throne is much bigger and the world-building, including the lore and history, is wonderfully intricate. While the Books of Ambha focused on one country (albeit different locations), The Jasmine Throne has multiple kingdoms, with their own wants and politics (despite being under the rule of a single emperor). The world building, coupled with the multiple P.O.Vs, creates the urgency of addressing the imbalances in the empire and exploiting the cracks that are beginning to show.
Well crafted characters
Aside from the world building, one of the other things I loved was the characters. In The Jasmine Throne, there are more P.O.V characters compared to Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash, but it doesn’t lose the character development or the character relationships in any way.
Both Malini and Priya, the two main P.O.V characters, are wonderfully fleshed out and each have their own wants and desires. I love how Priya is allowed to be soft and caring and this isn’t perceived as a weakness. Malini is caring in her own way, but she is also calculating and strong willed. She knows her emperor brother isn’t the best person for the job (for want of a better way of describing it!) and Malini has a strong desire to see her other brother on the throne and will stop at nothing to see this plan through.
While Malini and Priya take centre stage, there is a wealth of side characters, all of whom provide unique perspective on the empire and how it should be taken down. One of my favourite side characters is Bhumika. She is someone who is trying to survive, look after a household and keep a sense of normality, despite the undercurrent of rebellion running throughout the story. Bhumika inspires loyalty through kindness, and much like Priya, her kindness and caring nature aren’t perceived as a weakness.
Haunting and Elegant
The prose, much like the Books of Ambha, is beautiful. It’s haunting and elegant, taking its time and really building up the tension. The Jasmine Throne deserves to be read slowly (if you can!) to really take in just how beautiful the writing is. I also want to give a shout out to the Orbit art team – the cover art for The Jasmine Throne is all kinds of beautiful and it’s so wonderful to see a South Asian woman on the cover of an epic fantasy novel.
I could keep going about this book, but I think it’s safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Jasmine Throne. It ticked a lot of boxes for me: political fantasy, epic world building and an undercurrent of romance (if you have seen my top 10 of 2020, you know that these are features that featured in a lot of my favourite books from last year). This is a big, bold novel and full of questions on the nature of empire and what could happen when that empire has been overthrown. There are plenty of threads in The Jasmine Throne that leave you wanting more and I can’t wait to see how they play out in book 2.
[There are a number of content warnings on Tasha’s website, so if you are planning on reading this, I recommend checking them out and seeing if this book is for you (https://tashasuri.com/contentwarn/)]
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