Summary: 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.
I truly apologise if this post feels more like a brain rot and less like a review because I’m left speechless by Tasha’s writing and power of storytelling yet again. As if I needed a reminder as to why Tasha Suri is one of my favourite authors, still The Jasmine Throne served as one.
The Jasmine Throne, the start of a new trilogy, introduces us to a feminist tale, a revolution waiting to unfold, set in an Indian inspired world with a unique but deadly magic system, layers of politics and morally grey characters. This multi-POV story with our morally grey lesbians Malini and Priya as protagonists, is epic fantasy at its best.
Malini, our Imperial Princess, is imprisoned by her zealot brother in the Hiranya, a temple with secrets. She’s desperate to be released and is willing to do whatever she can to depose him from the throne. I really liked her character, being the strategist that she is. She’s tactful, an iron fist in a velvet glove, knows what cards to play and what politics to apply to achieve her goals which is what draws people to her cause.
Priya, the maidservant with secret powers, who has a tendency to kindness as seen from the beginning itself. Her soft heartedness is not a weakness though, her love for her family and her fading culture and the understanding of her magic is what drives her throughout the book. She’s all sharp edges, her resilience stood out to me.
And like the summary says, together they do change the fate of the empire. Both of them are complex, strong and ruthless with clear goals in sight. They are sharpened by their pain, the abuse they’ve suffered. They stand on opposite ends, ready to use one another but also learn to trust each other. It was an absolute delight to see their relationship develop, the conflicts that passed through them leading to a delicious slow burn. I was left wondering if they would betray each other or make it together to accomplish their goals.
❛Looking at Malini felt like a forbidden thrill, but somehow less frightening than meeting her eyes, which was too…equalizing.❜
To support our wonderful duo, we have the POVs of a supporting cast — Bhumika, a highborn lady with secret magic who only wants to see her land and people safe; Rao, the nameless prince with a prophecy to fulfill and Ashok, a rebel leader willing to pay any price to set his nation free. Despite the many characters, Tasha manages to keep us hooked to the tenuous plot without confusions. Each character had a distinct motivation and voice and I loved how their stories entangle. (All I ask is to see more of Rao, he’s so precious).
Ultimately, the narrative is driven by the three women, Priya, Malini and Bhumika. I’m always all in to see women take the lead, and in an empire like Parijat these three are the real deal. They’ve all made sacrifices, steeled themselves because they know their power. It’s satisfying, to watch these women fight back in their own monstrous ways when they’re often subdued and burned in Parijat.
The world-building is top notch, to simply put it. We get to know of the different faiths to exists across the kingdoms — the nameless gods, mothers of flame, the yaksa; the history of the nations; the power plays and how imperialism cuts off people from their roots and their cultures are left to fade away.
The magic system does not only add to the fantasy element of the book but also demonstrates the terrible effects of Parijat’s imperial rule over Ahiranya. Tasha handles the oppression and how conquering of nations eats away their own culture and reduces the people to pawns of the empire with sensitivity and sharpness. It’s thought-provoking to us readers.
It’s so beautifully written, there are so many highlights in my copy, of quotes that shook me or passages that haunt me, I wish I could include them all. The dialogue and prose is exceptional and immersive. My favourite instances have to be the ones that describe the setting or architecture of the world. Tasha writes a vivid, ingenious tale of taking what’s stolen from you through characters that are flawed but can’t help rooting for. The pacing perfectly builds up the tensions and events through the book.
❛There was no void in her any longer. Whatever she was – weapon, monster, cursed or gifted – she was whole.❜
Reading The Jasmine Throne felt so comforting. A queer fantasy inspired by my own culture is all I’ve ever wanted and Tasha freaking delivered. The world and setting is so familiar to me, identifying the twists and fresh takes on elements of Indian history and folklore made my reading experience all the more thrilling.
All in all, The Jasmine Throne is a phenomenal story of brutal empires, reclaiming power, love and family. If you’re looking for a cleanly woven plot with interesting characters and a wonderful Indian inspired world, I highly recommend The Jasmine Throne! I cannot wait to see what unfolds in the coming books.
Thank you Netgalley and Orbit Books for the ARC!
❛If I must burn, then I’ll take you with me, throne and all.❜