Tell me there’s a new f/f fantasy series and you know I’ll be keen. Especially when it involves unlikely allies. The Jasmine Throne is the first in a new fantasy trilogy inspired by the history and epics of India, written by Tasha Suri (Empire of Sand, Realm of Ash). Tasha’s debut, Empire of Sand, was great so I was so excited to see her growth. In The Jasmine Throne I’ve found a book where I love the characters, love the magic, and love the way the story is unfolding – this is such a unique story!
Star rating: 5 stars
The central protagonists in The Jasmine Throne are Priya, a maidservant (with a big secret) who is one of a few that make the terrifying journey to the top of the Hirana every night where Princess Malini is imprisoned. Malini defied her cruel brother, now the emperor, and for that she is paying with some isolated reflection. Her only companion is a cruel woman who drugs her every night to keep her sedated, until Malini and Priya meet for the first time. Both of these women are wicked smart and have their own journeys throughout the book. Malini must recover from her trauma and return to her strongest self in order to fight her brother, and Priya must learn how to put her anonymous life behind her and step into her true self.
I loved the contrast between Priya and Malini – Priya is still working out who she is and how she will use her power after lying to herself for so long, but Malini already knows she is powerful even though being a woman in this world holds her back. This contrast made their relationship really exciting to see develop as they figure out whether their feelings for each other are real or if they are using each other for personal gain.
Other characters have points of view scattered throughout the book, sometimes only occurring once or twice. Key to the story are Ashok, a rebel looking to take down the emperor, Bhumika, a woman from Priya’s past who is now the wife of the regent of Ahiranya, and Rao, a man who’s true name holds a prophecy that carries the weight of more than his own future. I really enjoyed the depth that these points of view gave the story, particularly when Priya and Malini were co-located. I particularly enjoyed Bhumika’s character – she is smart and no-nonsense and I grew to love her as the story progressed. The mystery of Rao’s name also had me completely invested!
The world-building and politics were incredibly gripping. The magic surrounding the Hirana and the deathless waters was so unique, I’ve never read anything like it. The rebel movement in the conquered Ahiranya led by Ashok grows to free itself from control of Parijatdvipa (whose emperor, Malini’s brother, is cruel and extremist). It’s really up to the women in the story to use their power wisely and bring reason to the men who will destroy each other to get what they want. The threats don’t just come from the people either – there’s a magical disease called the rot to content with, and it’s spreading wider than where it originated. I’m sure there will be more nuanced thoughts on the politics when more people have read this story when it releases.
Overall, I love that this book gave us a full story but with room to grow in the rest of the trilogy. I feel satisfied by the progress and eager to see how the world and magic will be expanded. Malini and Priya both have a long way to go on their journeys and I’m really excited to see where they end up.
Big thanks to Bertie from Luminosity Library for buddy reading this with me, it was great to have someone to share the excitement with! You should definitely check out their blog to see their review of The Jasmine Throne when its published!