Author: Tasha Suri
Narrator: Shiromi Arserio
Audiobook Length: 19 hours 43 minutes
Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne begins the powerful Burning Kingdoms trilogy, in which two women–a long-imprisoned princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic–come together to rewrite the fate of an empire.
Exiled by her despotic brother when he claimed their father’s kingdom, Malini spends her days trapped in the Hirana: an ancient, cliffside temple that was once the source of the magical deathless waters, but is now little more than a decaying ruin.
A servant in the regent’s household, Priya makes the treacherous climb to the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to play the role of a drudge so long as it keeps anyone from discovering her ties to the temple and the dark secret of her past.
But when Malini bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to steal a throne. The other is a powerful priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will set an empire ablaze.
The Jasmine Throne is the first novel is the Burning Kingdom trilogy. The story’s start with the Parijatdvipan Emperor, Chandra, trying to purify women with flame via ancient traditions, including his sister, set the tone of the rest of the novel. With his sister, Malini resisting and imprisoned in the Hirana, an ancient temple, the chain of events is set into motion. Malini meets Priya, one of the maidservants sent to clean Malini’s chambers.
Originally, I thought that the story would be told solely from the perspectives of Malini and Priya, but it actually expands to other characters and each was captivating. There were moments where I was disappointed to leave one character, but then loved being with the next. Sometimes, I wished the novel was divided into multiple series each fully told from a single perspective just because I loved each of them. Each character in this novel had a very clear voice. Since there were multiple characters to track their personalities and descriptions definitely helped to prevent them from muddling together. They are carefully crafted so each seems to have a purpose in the story, even if it is not always extremely clear to the reader. Malini was interesting as she was a morally grey character where there were moments where she was manipulative enough that she could waver between hero and villain. Priya has her own vengeance in mind with a strong sense of loyalty and compassion.
Malini and Priya are both alike yet different and I love how they balance each other. Their relationship is a slow burn romance that progresses naturally as the story moves forward. Despite coming from two different worlds, I liked how they came together. They were an excellent enemies to lovers story with a bit of forbidden romance in-between. I love stories like this where not only do the two characters differ in many ways, but you can see how they are still compatible. They are on two paths as one knows their next steps and the other is a little unsure, but the reader still roots for them. It will be very interesting to see what trials and tribulations they will face in the next two novels.
The pacing at the start is slow as there is not a ton of action until the halfway point. However, it did not feel slow as there is a lot of world and character building with bits of the plot introduced little by little. The audiobook version helped in this regard as I could put the speed a little higher during the slower parts without missing any details. The magic is more subtle compared to some other similar series, yet it was well-described and made sense in the story. The politics is extremely complex that it will be interesting how the layers come undone and more of the secrets and intrigue is revealed. Although there some moments where it was a little difficult to follow every detail as it was complex, it did all come together nicely and captivated me enough to want to continue the series.
Overall, this was a highly anticipated 2021 novel and I am glad that it lived up to my expectations. While there was a lot packed into this story, there is still so much more to come. As this novel is complex, I am sure that I missed a lot of discussion elements, including characters, plot, and setting. The Indian inspired elements were well integrated into the story and added a new layer to the rich world-building. This will definitely be a series that I cannot wait to continue, although it will be difficult to wait until the next novel is published in 2022.