Thursday, June 3, 2021

Review: The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

 The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms, #1)

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
Publication Date: June 8th, 2021
Hardcover. 576 pages.
About The Jasmine Throne:

"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. "

The  Jasmine Throne is a stunning new fantasy from the author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash (both of which I thoroughly enjoyed), and I was so excited to see that Suri was not only releasing a new fantasy novel, but also the start of her first trilogy–and it's off to a great start! The Jasmine Throne is inspired by "the history and epics of India" and incorporates unique magic with an intricate and carefully built world and plot.

The two main protagonists we follow are Priya and Malini, two women from two very different backgrounds, but who find certain aspects of commonality in their overall goals and thus brought together in an unexpected way. Priya and Malini's slow build-up of trust with one another was masterfully done and perfectly showcased their tentative relationship and gradual understanding of one another and their individual wants and motivations. I will say, however, that for as much as I heard about the sapphic relationship in this story, I was hoping for just a bit more of it. I don't mean that I needed any explicit content or anything like that, but rather I just felt like the plot danced around a lot of their relationship rather than focusing on it as much as it could have–and I understand that that could be a reflection of the story and setting itself, but as a reader it was slightly underwhelming compared to what had been advertised to me. On the plus side, though, this was very much a slower-burn relationship that I thought was executed really well in that regard. I never felt rushed or uncomfortable with how they interacted with one another, and I think Suri managed to hold true to their individual personalities well as they learned more about one another. 

In addition to Priya and Malini's POVs, we also get a glimpse into quite a few other various POVs throughout, some more prominent than others. I will admit that none of the other characters were overly compelling to me, and because of how many perspective switches there were I kept getting disconnected from the story and plot.  Priya and Malini were fleshed out and developed with strong, unique personalities, but the rest of the characters felt a bit less developed and so I never really formed much of an interest in their role. The only side character I found myself somewhat interested in was that of XX, and that was largely because I found her role the most mysterious and multi-layered and I was curious to see how she fit into everything.

The descriptions of the world and magic were incredibly lush and developed, and it's obvious that Suri put a ton of care and thought into the development of this world. It all felt so vivid and real, and I got a great sense of the atmosphere and the physical setting of the book. The magic system and the 'rot' are both really interesting, but they are also a bit confusing and I never felt as though I fully grasped how anything really worked or knew what to expect from it. The magic has a source from the Deathless Waters, and as much as I found the chapters showing how Priya accesses this and how others also use it, they weren't overly compelling and I instead often found myself wading through them without any real certainty as to whether I was enjoying it or not. 
I also appreciated a lot of the themes that this book tackles, such as colonization and class issues, as well as rebellion and freedom. There is also a lot of great female empowerment in this book that is done in a way that feels authentic and sincere, rather than thrown in just for the sake of having it. The themes and messages of Suri's books are often one of the things I like most about them because they are done in such a nuanced and thoughtful manner. It's clear that she puts a lot of her heart into what she does, and I always appreciate and am thankful for authors who are so passionate about what they write. 

There were a lot of things that I liked about The Jasmine Throne, but there were also quite a few things that I think held me back from being as absorbed in it or as in love with it as I'd thought I might be. My struggle with this book is tricky, because it's difficult for me to exactly understand how I feel about it. I love Tasha Suri's prose and I think that she is a master at creating complex characters and intricate plots that unfold in beautiful, masterful ways. However, I found that a lot of the pacing was off and dragged rather consistently throughout the book, and the  manner in which she chose to tell the story and drop the reader into things without explanation didn't work quite as well as it does in other books. At the same time, there were areas that I felt offered too much information that I found hard to follow or remember, which contrasted with the fact that I often just felt a bit lost or unsure while reading. Part of the problem I had with it is possibly because it felt a lot like a prequel in some ways. It seemed to take a long time to feel as though we were actually getting into a plot or sequence that moved the story along, and many of the introductions to the magic and/or various plot points felt vague and prequel-like. There were far too many times where I didn't particularly look forward to picking up The Jasmine Throne while reading it, or I found myself getting distracted more easily while reading it than happens with others. 
In the end, I think this book just wasn't quite my best cup of tea, but I can still recognize and appreciate that it's a great story with so much potential. I enjoy thinking back on it and am very curious about the sequel, so I will definitely be giving that a read once it's out. I adore Suri's writing and think is an incredibly talented author, but this book just didn't work for me quite as much as I'd hope–but it's still a great book that I would continue to recommend to others.
Overall, I've given The Jasmine Throne 3.75 stars! I absolutely recommend this one if you are looking for an amazing story with two great female protagonists and a unique, innovative magic system.
 *I received a copy of The Jasmine Throne courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.* 

Buy the book: Amazon | IndieBound


  1. I'm curious to start this soon, although I always worry about really long books that can't hold my attention. I guess we'll see!

    1. I’m interested to hear your thoughts! It is a long one, but I have seen a lot of rave reviews for it—I hope you enjoy it! :)