Author: Tasha Suri
The prophecy of the nameless god—the words that declared Malini the rightful empress of Parijatdvipa—has proven a blessing and curse. She is determined to claim the throne that fate offered her. But even with the strength of the rage in her heart and the army of loyal men by her side, deposing her brother is going to be a brutal and bloody fight.
The power of the deathless waters flows through Priya’s blood. Thrice born priestess, Elder of Ahiranya, Priya’s dream is to see her country rid of the rot that plagues it: both Parijatdvipa’s poisonous rule, and the blooming sickness that is slowly spreading through all living things. But she doesn’t yet understand the truth of the magic she carries.
Their chosen paths once pulled them apart. But Malini and Priya’s souls remain as entwined as their destinies. And they soon realize that coming together is the only way to save their kingdom from those who would rather see it burn—even if it will cost them.
After the amazing experience of The Jasmine Throne, I was greatly excited to begin The Oleander Sword in the Burning Kingdoms series. Since the first novel set my expectations very high, I was nervous that this novel would not live up to the first. Luckily, this novel was amazing and continued to thrill me as a reader. The story takes place soon after the first novel ends (about a year), where both Malini and Priya are on the next steps of their journeys. Like the first novel, there are multiple POVs, so sometimes it takes more effort to keep track where you take a moment to remember who you are following at a certain moment. The cast of characters, including Aditya, Rao, and Bhumika, to name a few, are all interesting in their own way, though, so I did not mind having to take my time following along.
This novel is best read after the first not only because the story is continuous, but the first novel laid an incredible foundation for this one. The world, characters, and lore are all set up well in the first novel and this one expands on everything to further immerse the reader. Priya and Malini still care for each other, but each had their own path and worries. Malini is on her path to usurp her brother, the Parijatdvipan Emperor, Chandra, and reclaim the throne. Priya is on her path as an Elder of Ahiranya. The romance that exists between these two characters was very well-written, especially given their circumstances. I loved this style in Suri’s writing where the reader can still connect with the characters and their relationships even if they are not interacting directly on the page.
Overall, I have a love/hate relationship with novel mainly because I now must wait for the next story to finally figure out what happens after the ending! Aside from my impatience to figure out what happens next, I loved this story as I did not expect to read it in a single sitting. The characters and story were very captivating, and it is difficult to find fault in the writing. The story built nicely on the previous story and nicely set up the next novel without this novel feeling like it solely was the bridge between them. There was enough going on in this story that it was interesting on its own and did not feel like it suffered “second-book syndrome.” I did tend to enjoy the story with the temple more than the war, but both were enough to hold my interest. It will be a tough wait until 2023 to see what happens next!
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**