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.
Trigger warnings: blood, gore, violence, murder, poisoning, torture, public execution, homophobia, forced drug use, body horror, suicidal thoughts, self-mutilation, abusive family member
It all starts with a fire and an exile. Malini is a traitor, a furious princess sentenced to atone for her misdeeds at the Hirana, a destroyed temple. She is kept under lock and key, becoming weaker under the cautious eye of her carer, and she is on the verge of dying. Priya is a maid who is responsible for walking the perilous trek to the Hirana every night to look after the captive princess. The job is risky, and Priya runs the risk of disclosing her most closely guarded secret when she is attacked one evening, and she exposes a power long-buried to the last person she expects to reveal it to the princess herself. Malina and Priya are bonded together on a voyage that would have them witnessing Priya’s true character.
It took me a few moments to really immerse myself in The Jasmine Throne’s world, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. Tasha Suri has woven everything I love about fantasy into one book, complete with detailed historical backdrops and character-driven plots. When you add in the fact that this features ethically ambiguous lesbians set in an Indian-inspired fantasy setting, you can see why I went berserk.
Suri masterfully blended approximately 10 various points of view throughout the plot, which is no simple accomplishment to execute. While the majority of the book focuses on Priya and Malini’s trip, the other points of view provided a much-needed intermission, providing a necessary perspective on major events. But it was the plot’s complexity and the depth of each of the characters that really wowed me. This is a slow-burning drama with simmering tensions that don’t explode until the very final second, allowing the motivations of both characters to be dissected.
The relationship, like the plot, was a slow burn, evolving from reluctant allies to something far more powerful. The nicest aspect of the narrative was seeing these two ladies unite in their quest for power and vengeance. Along with all of that, the romantic growth was what sold me on this. Tasha Suri makes her mark on the fantasy genre once again, with evocative language, an amazing magic system, and engaging characters. The Jasmine Throne is a wonderfully woven story that should be savored slowly and carefully eaten. A triumphant start to what will undoubtedly be an incredible series.
About the Author
Tasha Suri is the award-winning author of The Books of Ambha duology (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.