Title: The Jasmine Throne
Author: Tasha Suri
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication date: 08 June 2021
Cover art: Micah Epstein (illustrator), Lauren Panepinto (designer)
Age group: Adult
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.
“She was meant to be so much more once. She couldn’t be the person she’d been reared to be. But maybe, just maybe, she could allow herself to want just a little more than what she had. Just a little.”
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri is the first book in The Burning Kingdom trilogy. It is a desi-inspired epic fantasy which is set in the kingdom of Parijat. A kingdom ruled by a cruel emperor – Chandra. An emperor, who in the name of faith, sets women alight.
It is a fantasy set in the conquered city of Ahiranya to where the emperor’s sister has been exiled for secretly preparing to overthrow the horrid ruler. It is also about a maid servant working in the regent’s mahal who usually wonders of everything she could be but isn’t, this is a maid servant with a secret.
Princess Malini is cunning, smart, beautiful and manipulative. The maid servant, Priya, is kind, caring and a complete badass if the need arises. These two women who are two sides of the same coin are the main characters in this story.
The story unfolds from multiple point-of-views. Chandra, Malini, Priya and many, MANY other characters. While this works to the advantage of the plot for the most part, the sheer number of characters who’s POVs have been introduced becomes tricky to keep track of at one point. A few even seemed unnecessary and their role was simply to act as a filler.
As Malini’s and Priya’s destinies cross at the Hirana after Malini has been sentenced to exile for not stepping into the pyre as commanded by her evil brother, you can almost immediately begin to feel a heavy tension build-up between the two. Priya needs to keep Malini alive because she is after all the emperor’s sister and any harm to her would be devastating for her city. Malini needs to befriend Priya because she is probably the only one who will help her escape the Hirana.
This builds up to an enemies-to-lovers plotline, a forbidden romance kind of epic fantasy which keeps you on your toes the entire time. They’re both morally grey, they will not shy away from using one another to get what they need, they will make the hard decisions, they will kill and they will be monstrous if they have to be. What I liked about these two characters, in fact every character in this book, is that every person knows who they are, they know the implications of their actions, and they don’t try to be nice for the sake of being nice. Once the secret is out, they do not beat around the bush trying to portray themselves as anything else but themselves.
Suri has done a splendid job of depicting the politics of cities conquered by kingdoms, what it means to be fighting for what you believe in and toxic family behaviour. I enjoyed the reading experience because of the small length of the chapters, the variety of representation, the food and especially because we have women fighting in sarees!
I enjoyed the intricate world building – of the city, the rose garden, the Hirana, the monastery, the sangam and even the deathless water. I didn’t initially understand the lush magic system completely but as it starts to be exposed slowly, I found it to be quite unique. The Jasmine Throne in its core is a complicated story of powerful and authentic female characters which always fun to read in any fantasy book. The only thing which did not work perfectly for me was the uneven pacing throughout the book. Though I expected that since it’s a trilogy and this is only book #1. So having said that, my final rating for the book would be 4 bookmarks out of 5.
I received an e-ARC of this book from Orbit Books and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour. This did not impact my review in any way, all views are my own.
- South Asian
Trigger and Content Warnings
- Explicit violence including immolation and self-immolation
- Colourism, xenophobia
- Gender-based violence/violence against women (this does not include sexual assault)
- Homophobia and internalised homophobia
- Suicidal ideation
- Abusive family dynamics
- Child murder
- Body horror (plant-based, cosmic)
- Forced drug use and depictions of addiction/withdrawal
Amazon — https://amzn.to/3htImEd
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/50523477
Tasha Suri was born in Harrow, north-west London. The daughter of Punjabi parents, she spent many childhood holidays exploring India with her family, and still fondly remembers the time she was chased around the Taj Mahal by an irate tour guide. She studied English and creative writing at Warwick University, and now lives in London where she works as a librarian. To no one’s surprise, she owns a cat. A love of period Bollywood films, history and mythology led her to begin writing South Asian influenced fantasy. Tasha Suri has won the British Fantasy Society Best Newcomer Award and Starburst Brave New Words Award
Author website — https://tashasuri.com/about/
Goodreads — https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17718309.Tasha_Suri
Instagram — https://www.instagram.com/tashasuri
Twitter — https://twitter.com/tashadrinkstea