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.
Thank you to Orbit for the review copy. I can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I should have known going in that I would love this book, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much. The Jasmine Throne, and the characters that reside in it carved out a little place in my heart, and I was absolutely blown away by Suri’s epic storytelling.
Imprisoned by her brother for refusing to burn Malini spends her days in isolation, drugged by the keepers sent by her brother, knowing that death is coming for her one way or another. Priya is a servant in the regents household, forced to face the treacherous journey up the Hirana to clean the Princess’ chambers, fearing that someone will discover her secret. But a chance encounter places the two close together and before long they realise that they both have power, power that could be used to save all of Parijatdvipa. But the gap between Priya and Malini, Parijati and Ahiranyi may be too big to bridge.
The Jasmine Throne is told from a multitude of POV’s, each bringing something different but equally important to the story, and while every POV has their part to play Priya and Malini were by far the main characters of this book. Priya has been living a life in the shadows after the Hirana burnt along with her brothers and sisters, as a servant in the regents household she puts her position to good use, using her wages to ensure the safety of children and attempting to save who she can from the rot, a disease that has been plaguing Ahiranya since the fire. She has hidden the part of herself that was once a temple child so far down that she can hardly remember it, but when the Princess arrives and she is sent back to the Hirana to serve her, Priya’s memories start returning and show a history different from the one she remembers.
Malini is stuck between her two brothers, one a bully who desires nothing but power and the other a coward who has the power to change Parijatdvipa but not the will. She has never been strong, but she could not live if her brother Chandra remained on the throne and so strong she became. Sent to Ahiranya because she refused to burn to purify herself, she has resigned herself to death by either her brothers hand, or the slow wilting away of life she is sure will happen once she is locked away. She would rule, if only she wasn’t born a woman, but she suffers at least knowing that the plan she put into action will come to fruition. She will see her brother off the throne one way or another, for his cruelty and dismissiveness of those he see’s as lesser are sure to bring war to a continent already on the edge.
Through the different POV’s Suri shows the contrast between those with a thirst for power, and those that do not wish for it but were born to lead. There are too many POV’s to name, though some of my favourites were Rao and Bhumika. Rao is a Prince of Alor, and a friend to Aditya, the brother that Malini is trying so hard to get on the throne. His religion tells that each person is born with a true name, one that tells them their purpose in life, and his is tied to Malina. Bhumika is the wife of the regent of Ahiranya, she holds a secret close to her chest, one that could see her killed, and though some may see her choices as a weakness, we can see the strength it would have taken to make the decision as well as her reasoning behind it. It’s so hard to talk about some of the POV’s without giving away spoilers, but they all play an important part in furthering the story.
While in some stories POV’s of this multitude might make it seem disjointed, Suri twines them all together seamlessly, interweaving them so you never quite know what will happen next. You’re never a step ahead of the characters, instead you come to the realisations at they same time they do which makes it easier to feel as though you are a part of the story yourself, and ensures you stay invested in the outcome.
With Jasmine Throne Suri creates a masterclass in worldbuilding. She effortlessly brings Parijatdvipa, Ahiranya and all their neighbouring cultures to life and establishes a continent that you feel you can traverse with ease. Through the multitude of POV’s we get little insights into the different cultures, their beliefs and their religions and while some have a larger part to play in the story Suri leaves no stone unturned in ensuring you have a wealth of knowledge about the world you are travelling in. My favourite of the religions by far were those of Priya and The Ahiranyi people. Their belief in the Yaksa, ancient God’s who died and now bestow their powers via the deathless waters to those deemed worthy. As well as Rao and the Aloran people’s belief in the ‘nameless ones.’ According to their beliefs each person is born with a true name that is also a prophecy, they are unable to tell their true names until the time of the prophecy arrives. These are also the two religions that play the biggest roles in the story.
I was promised a slow burn, partly enemies to lovers and partly two idiots in love romance and that was what I got by the boat load. The romance between Priya and Malini was slow to come but absolutely worth the wait, they know it is forbidden, and even it it wasn’t a Parijati and Ahiranyi together would been seen as strange enough, never mind a Princess and a servant, but they will take what little time together they can get. We also get treated so a host of other relationships, some romantic, some familial, some simply friendship but Suri ensure’s everyone weaves it’s way into your heart. I defy you to not get emotionally invested in the relationships and their outcomes.
The Jasmine Throne is definitely a slow burning story, but Tasha spends her time wisely. In the first part of the book we get introduced to the politics of her continent, who rules who, who has the true power, as well as meeting all of the players. While some may say this was too slow, I love getting these introductions to fictional worlds, especially when done as elegantly as this. The pace does pick up in the second half with plenty of action scenes thrown in as well as some truly epic fighting with magic and I found it incredibly hard to tear my eyes away from the pages. Suri has once again created a book and world that I struggled to leave and I can guarantee this book will make my favourites of the year, if not all time.