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THE JASMINE THRONE by Tasha Suri – double review!

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.

Title : The Jasmine Throne
Author : Tasha Suri
Series : Burning Kingdoms
Format : eARC
Page Count : 480
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : June 8, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5/ ★ ★ ★

Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I’m pretty tempted to round up on this one but, despite how much I enjoyed the second half, this definitely starts off.. slow, maybe even a little strange. But it’s some of that same strangeness that kept me from putting it down and wanting to know more.

What I think Suri does so well, beyond some incredibly lush and descriptive but not overly purple writing, is how they offers up very complex and fascinating, multilayered, female characters. They aren’t a stagnant kind of grey or fit easily and snugly into one archetype or mold, either. These women are ever evolving based on their surroundings, twisting themselves into new shapes to suit, while glimmers of their true selves are revealed only to a precious few. We see them battle with themselves, with others, and it’s not always nice. But it felt so real and, as mentioned, it was fascinating.

This story started out very politics heavy and then shifted gears into very magical and weird and then ended with lots more politics spliced through with magic. I wish this had been balanced a little differently but I think I understand why it went the way it did. I just hope it weaves in and out a little better in book two, more in line with how it ended, instead of cut into sections. That said, the nameless and the destinies and that whole concept? Wow. I loved it. I was getting a tiny bit annoyed with the big build up near the end and how we kept getting bashed over the head with the tease but when it finally happened it? I won’t say it was worth it, because you kind of see it coming — not the exact thing, but the shape of it — but I still loved it. And, again, the concept is just fabulous.

There is so much great in here (again why I consider rounding up!) and it’s made up of magic, destinies, betrayal, yearning, and love. And some of that just within the dynamics of one pair of siblings. Suri doesn’t shy away from some uncomfortable dialogue about the pain endured by those who are supposed to love us, while at the same time tackling religious fanaticism, as well as the inherent poison of a nation conquered, oppressed, by others. There’s a lot to unpack.

Where I struggled was the pacing, a lot of extra POVs (sometimes only one offs, which always kind of bugs me), a bit of back and forth repetition with a certain build up, and with one particular character and their motivations and how that spilled over onto others and tugged the plot around, only to.. I don’t know. I can’t say for spoilers but I was left feeling something about it. And how some of that conflict ultimately just felt like filler and a time waster in the end.

But. I still definitely recommend this. Not just for the diversity in this India-inspired fantasy, not just for the romance (sapphic, by the way!), or the creeping eerieness of a conflict we’ve only just barely glimpsed and that is still to reveal itself, or for the political manouevering and cleverness heralded by a fierce, uncompromising, woman. But all that and more.

I am really excited for book two.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

Micky’s 3 star review

This book started on a truly interesting premise, a temple, mysterious magic and equally mysterious and magical disease, societies with class differences and two leading female MCs. I was on board with all that promise but overall, The Jasmine Throne turned out to be just an okay read for me.

Priya and Malini were the MCs and I favoured the story telling from Priya’s POV; she was by far the most interesting and dynamic character. The surrounding characters were full of doubt in terms of trust and there were many side characters of prominence. This brings me to my biggest problem with this book: the number of POVs was astounding and confusing, as the book continued into the second half, even more POVs were added and they were definitely in double figures. Complex fantasy does not need this added confusion in my opinion and my inner reading self groaned at many of the POVs.

I have seen a number of reviews cite the second half of this book as being stronger and that was Hollis’ experience, but for me, I was far more engaged in the first half. I enjoyed reading about the Hirani most and when the story moved away from that, I liked it less. I didn’t really bond with Malini as a character and as a result I didn’t feel the sapphic connection.

I am left with a sense of dissatisfaction on finishing and this is definitely a rounded-up rating. I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series.

Thank you to Orbit Books for the finished review copy.

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