Blog Tour Reviews and Interview | Wrath of Ambar Duology by Tanaz Bhathena

Hey everyone! Today I’ve got a super special post for you, I’m reviewing the Wrath of Ambar duology by Tanaz Bhathena! I was approached by the publisher a few weeks ago asking if I would be able to join onto a tour for these book and seeing that the main characters were people of color and that this would bring a lot of representation to the table, I accepted! I was sent a copy of Hunted by The Sky in the mail and will be receiving a finished copy of the sequel once it’s published! I was able to read the second instalment VIA netgalley and I’m very thankful to the publishers for this opportunity and the chance to Interview the author! Without further ado, here are my thoughts and Tanaz’s answers to my questions:

Hunted by the Sky

Title: Hunted by the Sky
Author: Tanaz Bhathena
Pages: 384
Buy Link: amazon

Synopsis: Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.

Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl–Gul–in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance–and discovers a magic he never expected to find.

Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India. 

Representation: Indian & Persian mythology; ancient Indian setting; desi culture; sapphic side character.

Ownvoices reader for: Desi & Indian.Trigger warnings: murdered parents, chronically ill parent, sexual slavery, classism, discrimination, name-calling, animal cruelty, anxiety around hidden identity, blood, and violence.

REVIEW

OMG I couldn’t be happier to be on a book tour! Get ready all of you who haven’t dived into this world yet because you’ll fall in love with the intricate worldbuilding and beautiful mythology this story holds.

Based in medieval India where a revengeful young woman named Gull finds herself beneath the claws of royalty while a young man called Cavas, struggling to survive finds a destiny for himself;

Amidst the classism stemming from the magical abilities and lack thereof and bashing of societal standards, a tender romance reluctantly blossoms. Gorgeous prose, fierce, complex girls, and a tender romance. I loved it all so much. 

Rising Like a Storm (The Wrath of Ambar, #2)

Title: Rising Like a Storm
Author: Tanaz Bhathena
Pages: 432
Buy Link: amazon

Synopsis:

In the concluding installment to the Wrath of Ambar duology from masterful author Tanaz Bhathena, Gul and Cavas must unite their magical forces―and hold onto their growing romance―to save their kingdom from tyranny.

With King Lohar dead and a usurper queen in power, Gul and Cavas face a new tyrannical government that is bent on killing them both. Their roles in King Lohar’s death have not gone unnoticed, and the new queen is out for blood. What she doesn’t know is that Gul and Cavas have a connection that runs deeper than romance, and together, they just might have the strength and magic to end her for good.

Then a grave mistake ends with Cavas taken prisoner by the government. Gul must train an army of warriors alone. With alliances shifting and the thirst for vengeance growing, the fate of Ambar seems ever more uncertain. It will take every ounce of strength, love, and sacrifice for Gul and Cavas to reach their final goal―and build a more just world than they’ve ever known.

REVIEW

The last and final book in Tanaz Bhathena’s The Wrath of Ambar series follows Gul and Cavas as they learn more about their magical connections and plan their fight against the new queen. The story starts about a month after the last one ended, and their relationship has already changed. I took some time to warm up to Gul and Cavas again.

I still believed in them individually as well as together, and their combined magic was fascinating to observe. They are both mentally strong and loyal people, but one seemed to drown in his own desire for revenge while the other was consumed by her fear of killing innocents.

Despite the fact that most of the time they are apart, I still felt they weren’t explored enough. However, the separation also enabled them to fight harder for their survival and to start believing in one another more, which I really liked, so I guess that was perfect for the plot.

Ultimately, I thought this was a satisfying conclusion to this duology, with nicely-tied up storylines and foreshadowing of the climax that made it feel more satisfying.

There were a lot of exciting set pieces and great character moments in this series, making it a duology I would recommend – especially if you’re looking for a POC-written chosen one story.

INTERVIEW

  1. What inspired you to write this book?

I really wanted to write a fantasy series that was set in medieval India, a historical period that I was obsessed with as a teen. I also wanted to bring fierce girls and women to the forefront of the narrative; I was very inspired by a North Indian welfare organization called the Gulabi Gang, which had vigilante roots. 

  1. Can you tell me a bit about the book?

Sure! HUNTED BY THE SKY and RISING LIKE A STORM are part of a YA fantasy duology set in a world inspired by medieval India. The story revolves around a girl named Gul, who is prophesied to be the downfall of a tyrant king. When Gul’s parents are murdered by the king’s soldiers, she vows revenge. Trained in warrior magic by a group of rebel women, Gul eventually infiltrates the king’s palace with the help of a stable boy named Cavas who has some dark secrets of his own. 

What Gul and Cavas don’t know is that the palace has its own secrets and that there’s more to their relationship than just romance. The bond between them and the magic they realize may be the only way to end their kingdom’s tyrannical rule and RISING LIKE A STORM showcases them battling a new tyrant, who is deadlier than any ruler they’ve ever known. 

  1. Who is your favorite character and who was the hardest to write?

I love pretty much all of my characters—even some of the evil ones! Cavas was the hardest character for me to write because I initially didn’t have his background figured out. Once that was done, it became a lot easier. 

  1. How long did it take you to write the book?

I started an early version of HUNTED BY THE SKY in 2016, trashed the draft after 50,000 words and then restarted afresh in 2017. The book got published in 2020—so around 3-4 years. It took me around 2 more years to write RISING LIKE A STORM. 

  1. If you could pick actors to play your characters, who would play which character?

Oooh, I would love for Tara Gupta (who modeled Gul on the cover) to play Gul! For Cavas, I’d love to cast Ishan Khatter. 

  1. What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

Butt in seat. The book isn’t going to write itself.

About the Author

Tanaz Bhathena

Tanaz Bhathena writes books for young adults. Her latest novel, Hunted by the Sky, was named a Best Book of the Year by the CBC and USBBY, with the sequel Rising like a Storm releasing on June 22, 2021. Her novel, The Beauty of the Moment, won the Nautilus Gold Award for Young Adult Fiction and was nominated for the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine Award. Her acclaimed debut, A Girl Like That, was named a Best Book of the Year by numerous outlets including The Globe and Mail, Seventeen, and The Times of India.

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