Monday 27 June 2022

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Review: The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

A photo of a small stack of two books - Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash, both by Tasha Suri - on top of which stands The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri. Just to the left of The Jasmine Throne is a small rainbow pin. They’re on and in front of a large Progress Pride Flag.

I received an eProof for free from Orbit via NetGalley for the purposes of providing an honest review.

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The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Published: 8th June 2021 | Publisher: Orbit | Source: Bought
Tasha Suri’s Website

One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne.
The other is a priestess searching for her family.
Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of powerful magic – but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one of several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to attend Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, as 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...
From The StoryGraph.

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I'd wanted to read The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri ever since I first heard about it. Stupidly, it took me quite a while before I actually picked it up, and I wish I'd done so much earlier! It was fantastic!

A Indian inspired high fantasy, The Jasmine Throne is very much the first book in a series, in that it's setting things up, forming relationships, letting us get to know the world and the magic system, and putting characters into place for next book. But at the same time, so much happens! There may not be a huge amount of action for the majority of the book, but it's so complex. The world building is so rich and layered. The Empire is ruled by Malini's brother, Chandra, who rules with an iron fist. He's taken his people's religion and has twisted it to become a tool with which tyrannically control the empire. Ahiranya, one of the Empire's territories, is ruled by General Vikram, and it's under his charge that Malini is put when she is exiled to the Hirana, a former temple, for opposing Chandra's rule. There is rebellion within Ahiranya, people wanting to take their home back. People who long for the magic they once had, granted from their own faith. It's a slow build up, but there are various levels of political intrigue, which I absolutely adored. There are a large number of moving parts to this story.

While Malini and Priya are the main narrators, we also get the perspectives of several others. The three other pain players are Ashok, a former temple child and leader of the rebellion, Bhumika, the wife to General Vikram who also hides the fact she was once a temple child, and Rao, the prince of another territory and ally of Malini's. There are several other perspectives that are included as well, but they get only a chapter or two. At first, I was annoyed with all the different perspectives; I'm not one for jumping about all over the place, I like my high fantasies somewhat contained, and prefer no-more than three narrators so I don't have to wait too long before getting back to the characters I prefer. But as I said, there are so many moving parts to this story. Malini is imprisoned in the Hirana, and Priya is but a maidservant. While Priya has more freedom, there's only so much she can be aware of. We need all these other perspectives because there are so many layers, so I came to love all the perspectives; we know what's happening elsewhere, the moves that are made, the plans put into motion, while others, not so much, or not until later. I am a massive, massive fan of political intrigue and it was just bloody fantastic! I revelled in it. Suri has plotted this story so well, and it was just so incredible to see where the story led, how the various moves effected other elements. The Jasmine Throne really puts the epic into epic fantasy.

I adored Priya. She is such a great character. She has a history of her own, and secrets to keep. She's quite a hopeful person, which I really appreciated. She's just so good and kind, and full of love for her people. And she goes through so much in this book. The things she rediscovers, the secrets kept from her, the hurt she experiences. And she's conflicted when it comes to the Empire, and what's the best thing to do. Is she for the rebellion? Is she for trying to keep her people alive? There are different ideas about what lines can and should be crossed from different sides, and Priya isn't necessarily for some people's methods. But how she has such courage and spunk and does what she feels is right. I really enjoyed the mystery surrounding her past and what she doesn't remember, the latent power and her past that she keeps hidden. It was great to see her learn the truth and come into her strength, but to also see her still be herself with her morals and sense of what is right.

Malini is quite a complex character, and so morally grey. Chandra is awful, and people are suffering under his rule. She wants to depose him, and put their older brother, who abdicated on the throne. She has a strong belief in what she feels is right for the Empire, and will do whatever it takes to make it so. Whatever it takes. She's just brilliant! And so clever, she's got political strategising down to a T. She's has a heart, but she is ruthless. And now her own life depends on getting Chandra off the throne. I have to say I wasn't really surprised by where Malini's storyline took her, I think that was pretty obvious from the get-go, but I didn't mind that.

I have to say, I couldn't really get on board with the romance. Malini was drugged through the majority of the story, and in the great scheme of things, Malini and Priya didn't have an awful lot of time together on the page. So I didn't really feel we got to see the romance develop very much. But this isn't really an issue for me, because I don't really read high fantasy for the romance. Yes, the sapphic romance was one of the things that drew me to this story, but not the only thing, and honestly, the political intrigue is just first class, and I'm generally much more interested in that in fantasy anyway, so I'm not disappointed.

Despite guessing early on where Malini's path would take her, I didn't know how she would get there, and I have the say, the ending was absolutely incredible! It was so, so good! Things really got moving, and it was just fantastic! And I am so, so excited for The Oleander Sword now, because I'm pretty such everything is going to be dialled right up, and I can't wait! I know I thought The Jasmine Throne was epic, but I think The Oleander Sword is going to top, and that there will be so much more in regards to action. It's just going to be so bloody brilliant! I highly, highly recommend The Jasmine Throne; this is not a book to miss!

Thank you to Orbit via NetGalley for the eProof.

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