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.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Jasmine Throne!
To be perfectly honest, I haven’t read many books set in South Asia, let alone South Asian influenced fantasy. There is only one fantasy novel I could name off the top of my head, and frankly, I didn’t enjoy it all that much. In other words: if Orbit had not been generous enough to send me a surprise proof, I probably wouldn’t have picked up The Jasmine Throne at all, and I definitely would have missed out cos I ended up having a brilliant time with Priya and Malini.
The Jasmine Throne is told from a number of perspectives, but the stars of this show are without a doubt Priya and Malini. Don’t worry if you generally don’t like numerous POVs, things never get confusing and should you get turned around anyway, there’s a handy character list included. While most of the story is told from the POV of Malini and Priya, it does need the other perspectives to give the reader a broader sense of what’s happening.
On paper, our two protagonists couldn’t be more different, one a maidservant, albeit one who has been hiding her true, and far more powerful, nature, the other a banished princess. Malini’s brother is the Emperor ruling his empire in accordance with the old beliefs that women should sacrifice themselves like the mothers of flame did ages ago. He expects his sister to walk onto a pyre together with her handmaidens and do just that. And when she refuses he sends her to an ancient temple for what is basically life imprisonment.
In practice, our two protagonists are cut from the same tenacious cloth. No, they will not obey, they will not kneel, and especially not to what is essentially a dictator. Together they are a force to be reckoned with, and I absolutely loved that, and to see them evolve and grow, individually, but also as friends and allies.
But there is much more to love about The Jasmine Throne. I have to admit I know little about Indian history and I don’t care much for politics, so seeing both aspects mentioned in regard to this book was slightly worrying. Until I’d actually picked it up and found putting it back down was a very hard thing to do indeed. I binged this behemoth in a weekend, despite a few quite lengthy social obligations, that should give you an idea of just how addictive and easy to read it is. Ms Suri writes with such ease and the story flows effortlessly. A scary sickness, an intriguing well-thought-out magic system, a budding romance, a conquered state fighting for its beliefs, traditions and language, a dictator whose siblings are leading the resistance, The Jasmine Throne has it all and then some.
The Jasmine Throne is the first instalment of a trilogy, but fortunately it doesn’t end on a huge cliffhanger, although it does of course leave you wondering what might happen next. I for one can’t wait to find out! If fantasy is your bag and The Jasmine Throne has somehow managed to stay under your radar, you should remedy that ASAP and put it on your wishlist if not your TBR.
The Jasmine Throne is out now in all formats.
Huge thanks to Orbit for the beautiful proof. All opinions are still my own.