I received an ARC of this from the publisher. Thank you to Orbit.
This hasn’t influenced my review in any way, my review is honest and unbiased.
Title: The Jasmine Throne
Series: Burning Kingdoms #1
Author: Tasha Suri
Published: June 8th, 2021
Genre: High Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Length: 576 pages
Source: ARC from the publisher
Representation: Author of colour (Indian), POC representation (Indian, South Asian), and LGBTQIAP+ representation (lesbian, f/f pairing)
Explicit violence (incl. immolation & self-immolation, self-mutilation)
& Gender-based violence/violence against women (no sexual assault)
Forced drug use (depictions of addiction/withdrawal)
Homophobia & internalized Homophobia
Abusive family dynamics
Body horror (plant-based, cosmic)
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.
Reasons to read The Jasmine Throne:
Captivating writing with incredibly vivid descriptions
Sapphic enemies to lovers trope (slow burn!)
Beautiful and unique plant-based magic system
The Jasmine Throne is an epic fantasy inspired by Indian / Hindu mythology and folklore, a sapphic enemies to lovers romance that focuses on two women trying to change the fate of the empire.
I was immediately hooked from the very first page and the book never let me go again. These characters will be in my head for quite some time, I’m sure.
We get thrown in right into the pivotal scene with Malini, when she refuses to be burned as a sacrifice. And just like with Priya first chapter in which she shows her kind heart trying to help some children, Suri gets us to instantly care for both women and their fates. This is so important in books with multiple POV, at least for me.
But this wasn’t only the case with the two main perspectives, each and everyone was very well done. Distinct and interesting. I was sad when each chapter ended because I wanted to stay with that character but was pulled in by the first few lines of the new chapter, no matter if the perspective was newly introduced or not.
Every side character is layered and has their own motives, histories and that makes them all so real and engaging to read about. They all have their own distinct view of the world and the society. I loved how the concept of power and powerlessness was explored. What does it mean to be powerful. Can kindness be power?
“Are people you fear so much truly worth your loyalty?”
How different for example Bhumika, Ashok and Priya decided to live their life, to fight, to help the most they can do. They have similar end goals (in a broader context) but vastly different interpretations of what is possible, what is worth it to sacrifice for that. I loved the differences between all of them and their unique way of fighting against injustice be it secretly or overtly.
“Parts of me are broken and I stand in the middle of all those pieces and don’t go anywhere. I’m stuck. In all this time, I’ve just been quiet. I’ve just survived.”
We get lies and deceit, open rebellion and secret plotting, slow building trust and yearning!
The slow scenes are just as exciting as the fast-paced fighting scenes and they all show the different thought processes and mannerisms of each character. The dialogues are so well written and a joy to read.
Speaking of joy to read; the magic system was so well crafted. Intriguing and beautiful, intricate and I love the plant-based magic. The body horror coming with the rot is incredible and a wonderful juxtaposition of the beauty and horror and flowers and leaves growing out through hands and eye sockets. The contrast worked brilliantly and drew me in even more into the world!
The setting of the Hirana, the ancient temple, was incredible, I could see it in my mind the whole time, which made it so easy to get completely lost in this wonderful story.
As a character-focused reader I was head over heels for both Malini and Priya. These two sapphic, morally grey women were incredible to read about. The vengeful, captive princess Malini, wanting to burn the empire down and the soft-hearted but fierce maidservant Priya seeking the truth about herself, her family and her past.
She could make herself into something monstrous. She could be a creature born of poison and pyre, flame and blood.
Every interaction between them was loaded and the slow build of the angst, the timid trust … Truly amazing. The yearning between them and the scenes were they slowly but surely get a feel for who the other is, the feeling of being truly seen that is so foreign for both of them held me captive, turning page after page after page.
Would recommend to: Everyone who loves epic fantasy (a sapphic one!!)
The Jasmine Throne is an incredible setup and introduction for the series and I’m already waiting for the sequel. It has a layered and intricate world, explores different leaders in this society where women are seen as weak and are used for men’s own gains. Explores what it means to be strong, in different ways, loud and quiet.
Tasha Suri is an incredible writer, she has a way with words that paint incredibly vivid and lush worlds and create layered, flawed, and distinct characters.
“And what is more monstrous than that? To be inherently, by your nature, unable to serve your purpose? To want, simply because you want, to love simply for the sake of love?”
Tasha Suri is the award-winning author of The Books of Ambhaduology (Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash) and the epic fantasy The Jasmine Throne. She is an occasional librarian and cat owner. She has won the Best Newcomer (Sydney J. Bounds) Award from the British Fantasy Society and has been nominated for the Astounding Award and Locus Award for Best First Novel. When she isn’t writing, Tasha likes to cry over TV shows, buy too many notebooks, and indulge her geeky passion for reading about South Asian history. She lives with her family in a mildly haunted house in London.*
*Bio and photo taken from Tasha Suri’s website, linked below
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