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The Burning Kingdoms #1

The Jasmine Throne

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2021)
Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri's The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess's traitor brother.

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.

533 pages, Paperback

First published June 8, 2021

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About the author

Tasha Suri

9 books2,947 followers
Tasha Suri was born in the U.K., but toured India during childhood holidays. She is now a librarian in London, and studied English and creative writing at Warwick University.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,295 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews156k followers
November 22, 2021
If your thing is “morally grey lesbians who long to set an empire ablaze and are set ablaze by their longing for each other/washing each other’s hair/holding sharp-edged knives to each other’s ribs/kissing beneath a waterfall” you should definitely pre-order this book!

Profile Image for Ellie.
578 reviews2,193 followers
November 19, 2022
5 gleaming, golden, sapphic stars.

This is my first full 5 star read of the year, and a new favourite. I have found a new epic fantasy series to fill the void left behind by The City of Brass and The Poppy War trilogies. It is an examination of how women are seen as monstrous - whether it's due to actual magical abilities, or simply the fact that they're clever. It is also full of sapphic yearning (the waterfall scene!), sprawling and lush worldbuilding on an epic scale, and rich politics. It looks at how nations are pulled into dominant empires, and the way independent cultures and traditions are left to wither and die. It shows how religion can be twisted to drive reasoning of the wrong kind, and how history can be sharpened into a tool.

In short, it is a nuanced book with many developed themes. Suri did such a wonderful job.

Malini and Priya lead the way as POV characters, but they are supported by others such as Ashok, Rao and Bhumika. (Note: I loved how The Jasmine Throne had 3 such different main female characters - Priya, the lowly handmaiden whose kindness is not a weakness, and who harbours a secret; Malini, sister of the empress with a temperament like a snake in the grass, or a knife cloaked in silk; Bhumika, level-headed and wise, mother-to-be and protector of everyone less fortunate.) All POVs were engaging, and I streamed through the book. Pacing was spot on. Everything was pretty spot on, in my opinion: characterisation, worldbuildng, development. Perhaps some will find the first half slow because it leans more into development and politics, but I love that so it was not a problem for me.

It was also beautifully written. The dialogue and prose was exceptional, and I have tabbed so many beautiful lines that I know I'll just be liberally sprinkling quotes all across my final review.

[clenches fist] honestly? this book was just fabulous. And the fact that it's dedicated to Suri's partner (I believe?) is really really sweet. Can't wait for book 2 and to see more of Malini, my morally grey queen empress.

will write/ post a more developed review closer to the release date!

edit 19/11/22: actually no I will not write a more developed review it turns out lol but I will say THIS BOOK!! remains absolutely my favourite epic sapphic fantasy book to date. sheer brilliance.

Thank you so much to Orbit Books UK for providing me with a review copy <3


Listen up all, this book is SAPPHIC.

- morally grey vicious lesbians? check
- traitor prince? check
- f/f enemies to lovers? check check CHECK
- evocative Indian folklore? check
- am I in love? helllaaa yes check


edit: this cover is BEAUTIFUL it gives me so much serotonin omg
Profile Image for Robin.
327 reviews1,800 followers
September 24, 2021
↠ 5 stars

It begins with a burning and an exile. Malini is a traitor — a vengeful princess banished to the Hirana, a ruined temple, to atone for her crimes. Kept under lock and key, she grows weaker under the watchful eye of her caretaker, facing almost certain death. Priya is a maidservant tasked with taking the treacherous path to the Hirana every night to care for the captive princess. The job is dangerous, accompanied by the risk of revealing her most well-kept secret, and when Priya is attacked one evening, she reveals a power long kept buried to the last person she intends, the princess herself. Having witnessed Priya’s true nature, Malina and Priya are bound together on a journey that will have them uncovering the hidden power behind the ancient temple and setting them on a path to transform an empire.

It may have taken me a moment to fully immerse myself in the world of The Jasmine Throne, but once I did, it was impossible to put down. Tasha Suri has seamlessly combined everything I adore about fantasy into one novel, full of intricate history backdrops and character-driven storylines. Add to the list that this includes morally grey lesbians set in an Indian-inspired fantasy world, and you'll understand why I went absolutely feral over this. There are almost ten different points of view combined throughout the entire story, which is no easy feat to accomplish, but one that was pulled off beautifully by Suri. While most of the book concentrates on the journey of Priya and Malini, the other points of view added a much-needed interlude, providing a necessary perspective on significant events taking place. Where this really wowed me though, was in the complexity of the plot and the depth of each of the characters. This is a slow-building story, with simmering tensions that wait until the last second to boil over, allowing for the motivations of both characters to be carefully picked apart. Just like the pacing, the romance was the most satisfying slow-burn, developing from reluctant allies to something much stronger. Truly, the best part of the story was watching these two women come together to strive to gain power and get their revenge. The romantic development alongside all of that really outsold this for me. With evocative language, an incredible magic system, and compelling characters, Tasha Suri once again makes her mark on the fantasy genre. The Jasmine Throne is a delicately layered story meant to be savored slowly and devoured with care. A triumphant start to what is sure to be an outright amazing series.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this arc in exchange for an honest review

Trigger warnings: blood, gore, violence, murder, poisoning, torture, public execution, homophobia, forced drug use, body horror, suicidal thoughts, self-mutilation, abusive family member
Profile Image for Lex Kent.
1,682 reviews8,871 followers
June 6, 2021
Finally! The epic fantasy book I have been searching all year for. I love fantasy and there is nothing I would rather read then some sapphic fantasy. While I have read some okay and even some good fantasy books this year, there has not been anything I thought was great… well that is until now. I had high expectations for this book and it was exactly the type of fantasy that I want to read. I hope it comes out in audio soon as I would love to go on this adventure again.

I do have to mention that it takes a little bit to get into this book. There are a lot of names and places and the book starts a little slow. This is very common for epic fantasy books and by the 15% mark I was completely hooked anyway. This is a long book, almost three times as long as say an average romance book, but I easily finished it in two nights. I was so immersed into the story that once it had its hooks in me, the pages just flew by.

Suri writes so well and she took her time to really build up the characters, and then really launched the story. The first half is very character driven, where the second half is much more about the plot. This just clicked so well for the type of reader I am and is a big reason why this was such a winner for me. This book has multiple POV’s, although there are two obvious mains, but it was a pleasant surprise about how much I enjoyed all the POV’s. I’m not normally a fan of more than two POV’s but they all worked here for me. Even if I didn’t like a character, I wanted to know what was going on with them. All the characters were really well written and they easily stuck with me. I’m not one to always remember names but in this book I got this whole large cast remembered quickly.

Of course the heart of the book is really about the two main, morally grey, sapphic ladies. I was so happy with these two mains. I hate when characters in fantasy are passive and things just happened to them. Not these ladies who are willing to do, what they think is right, no matter what it takes. I enjoyed both characters so much that I was extra happy when they started to catch feels. There is not a lot of romance in this book, and what is there is very slow burn, but it completely worked for me. At one point, I just knew that they were truly meant to be together. In life or death, we will have to see, but I loved their connection.

I have so much else I would love to talk about but I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything for new readers. This is a book I absolutely recommend. If you are a fantasy fan and a fan of strong, kickass women, get this book. This is adult fantasy at its best and I could not be happier. This is the first book in the series, but the book ends on a good stopping point. It feels like the first part is complete and doesn’t end on a crappy cliffhanger feeling. I still cannot wait to see what happens to the characters next and I hope Suri writes fast.

An ARC was given to me for a review.
Profile Image for Talia Hibbert.
Author 31 books29.4k followers
February 16, 2021
I… just… wow. I long ago accepted the fact that no book would ever make me feel precisely the way Empire of Sand or Realm of Ash did, which is fine, so WHY did The Jasmine Throne have to knock me off my chair with the exact same feels magnified by like 10,000? What is that about?????

Reading The Jasmine Throne was like hovering, ghostlike, in another world, feeling the heat of the flames and watching the drip of spilled wine and hearing my own heart pound with rage or fear or love or some unnerving combination of all three. I was utterly transported and fascinated and thrilled to core, god dammit. And to top it all off, I am literally IN LOVE with Priya and Malini. They are my precious monster wives and I just??? They??? Murdered me??? Which is not at all out of character for them but still.

The next book cannot come soon enough.
Profile Image for Chloe Gong.
Author 16 books21.1k followers
March 11, 2021
The Jasmine Throne raises the bar for what epic fantasy should be. Tasha Suri has created a beautiful, ferocious world alongside an intimate study of the characters who will burn it all down.
Profile Image for LIsa Noell "Rocking the Chutzpah!.
605 reviews205 followers
May 31, 2022
My thanks to Tasha Suri, Orbit books and Netgalley. What can I say? I loved this book so much! I've recently found that I love Sapphic Fantasy. As an extremely boring, hetero white gal? I love the thought of females coming together against a very Patriarchal culture, and messing it all up! Watching Priya and Malini find each other was lovely. I loved watching them slowly build up trust! I've lately read alot of fantasy books, but this story was lush! The plant's, flowers, waters, colors.. I can't wait to read more!
Profile Image for Lucie V..
1,012 reviews2,048 followers
June 9, 2022
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley (thank you Orbit Books). All thoughts and opinions are my own.

✅ Gorgeous cover
✅ Indian-inspired
✅ World-building
✅ Writing
✅🆗 Characters
✅🆗 Plot
✅🆗 Multiple POVs
🆗 Pace
🆗 Romance
❗️❗️ Trigger warnings: abusive dynamics, forced drug use, immolation, violence, suicidal thoughts, and self-harm

There is no meaning in the universe: no fate, no high blood, no rights of kings over land. Everything is emptiness. The world only had meaning when we give it meaning.

This story starts with a religious sacrificial burning. Three young women have been destined to burn alive in honor of the Mothers of flame, except that one of them, the Emperor’s sister refuses to willingly climb onto the pyre to burn. The Jasmine Throne tells the story of Priya, a servant girl who ends up taking care of Malini, the princess who refused to sacrifice herself on the pyre. The storyline is filled with politics, violence (nothing too explicit), rebellious groups, magic and religious beliefs. There are also other POVs from rebel leaders and ruling lords of Ahiranyi.

Malini is full of conflicting emotions and internal turmoils, which was interesting to read, but the rest of her felt ordinary and I did not connect with her that much. Priya has mysterious magical abilities, and she was definitely more intriguing than Malani. I enjoyed getting to know her and her dark past. Priya and Malini’s chapters were interesting to read, but the other characters had minimal development, and I think I would have preferred this book to have only two POVs because I have to say that I was not particularly interested in the other characters.

It’s hard to further explain the plot of The Jasmine Throne because it honestly feels more like a long prequel. The majority of the book revolves around Malini escaping her prison, Priya’s brother trying to get her to work for him because he needs her magic abilities, and growing discontent and revolutionary ideas among the population. The author is very skilled and writes beautifully, but even so, I have to say that I am overall underwhelmed by this book. There are many great ideas, but I feel that there is still something missing and it prevented me from really getting into this story. Part of it is probably because I had trouble connecting with many characters who had their own chapters, but I think it’s also because of the slow pace and the whole plot that feels more like a setup for the second book than an adventure in itself. The point of this book is to get you ready for the main conflict that is to come in the second book.

The world-building is great and steady. There is a strong Indian influence, and the author does a great job of weaving the Indian culture into her fantasy world. There is no info-dump, but I have to say that since my electronic ARC didn’t have a map yet, it was hard to get a clear picture of the geography and to understand well the politics and tensions at first, but once you’re immersed in the story it all starts to make sense eventually.

The relationship between Priya and Malini is well written and developed enough to be realistic, but still, I did not like their dynamic or romance that much. I thought the whole romance part was lacking and even felt forced sometimes... Honestly, I wish they had just been friends instead. It is a medium burn, so at least there is no insta-love or insta-lust.

I would still recommend this book if you are a fan of Indian-inspired high fantasy with great world-building, a mix of politics and religion, and a medium burn sapphic romance.

Fanart by Kim Ekdahl

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Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,061 followers
July 15, 2021
— find this review and others on my blog!

I had a feeling that I would love The Jasmine Throne from the very first time I’d heard about it. Promising a morally grey lesbian romance and a focus on empire and family, I thought this would hit on some of my favorite things to see in fantasy, and though it wasn’t quite the new favorite I was hoping it would be, I was still utterly enchanted by it. If you’re looking for a fantasy burning with intensity, from its vengeful characters to its feminist themes, you should absolutely pick this up.

The Jasmine Throne follows many perspectives, but mainly those of Priya and Malini, two women who come from vastly different backgrounds but can benefit from working with each other. Malini grows weaker every day in the magical prison her brother forced her into, but when Priya’s forbidden power comes to light, they realize how they can use each other to achieve their own goals of rebellion and freedom.

Some men dream of times long dead, and times that never existed, and they’re willing to tear the present apart entirely to get it.

The Jasmine Throne delves into several themes, influenced by its India-inspired world where imperialism and misogyny thrive. I especially loved its exploration of empire as a tool for oppression and how it stands for an all-consuming force that seeks to stamp out “impurities,” of how extremists can twist religion and faith to justify oppression, and of what monstrosity truly means in a world that demonizes women who don’t conform. These are all active influences in the characters’ arcs and daily lives, a display of the intricate connections between the characters and their environment.

Priya is a maidservant whose veins sing with both magic and tragedy, one of the few survivors of a fire that stole her temple family. She seeks the power that she was denied, the power that the empire vilifies her for, and the power her brother wants to use and weaponize. Malini is the princess of Parijat, sister to the emperor who exiled and imprisoned her for refusing to die for the sake of “purification.” She is vengeful and cunning, unafraid to manipulate others for her own gains, and I loved her for it. While both characters are morally grey, Malini was more so in my opinion (which is why she’s my favorite).

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t quite invested in Priya and Malini’s relationship in the beginning, but as more time passed, I found myself absolutely obsessed with their dynamic. It is fierce and tender at once, burning with passion for not only each other but for themselves and their own values: They hold their love for each other gently and carefully, especially because of what it means for two women to love each other in a misogynistic homophobic world, but they are also cautious in the sense that their loyalty to themselves and their motives never wavers in the face of their relationship. (And yes, that waterfall scene is as good as everyone says.)

There was no void in her any longer. Whatever she was—weapon, monster, cursed or gifted—she was whole.

Along with Priya and Malini are other side characters who get their own POVs, most notably Bhumika and Ashok, Priya’s temple siblings, and Rao, a prince allied with Malini. Suri handles these with skill, using their perspectives to provide more intrigue and insight into the plot but keeping them balanced so as not to drown out Priya and Malini’s main storylines. What I loved the most about these added POVs was the glimpse into the complicated relationship Priya has with her temple siblings. They are united in their trauma of being the only survivors of a disaster that killed the rest of their family, but they are also a source of pain for each other as well, particularly Priya and Ashok. This complex dynamic made my heart ache, for where they found destruction in each other they also found healing, tinging each of their interactions with bittersweetness.

While all of these relationships, romantic and familial, were entrancing, I would argue that The Jasmine Throne is truly first and foremost a book about women and their strengths. In all of the female characters’ arcs, the idea of monstrosity as it applies to women in a patriarchal society is explored. Priya, Malini, and Bhumika all carve spaces for themselves where their power can thrive, in a world that would rather see such power crushed, and they are deemed monstrous, weak. But what makes them “monstrous,” when their desire for agency is seen as a threat? When they are hated for refusing to bow to the demands of men and instead forging their own paths? When their very existence is demonized?

She could make herself into something monstrous. She could be a creature born of poison and pyre, flame and blood.

Though the book is quite lengthy, I flew through it and was thoroughly engrossed from the first page. Suri’s writing is laced with a certain loveliness and deadliness that complements the world of the novel, and though it was slow-moving in the beginning, Suri’s masterful way of building up tension kept me engaged. However, there was something that prevented me from fully loving this book—I think as the first book of the series, there was a lot of buildup (and I didn’t get all the exciting payoff I was hoping for) that resulted in a lack of some spark that would’ve allowed me to become wholly obsessed with this.

But while I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped to, it is undeniable that The Jasmine Throne is a gorgeously written book, its characters intense and its writing gripping. The world Suri creates is somewhat terrifying, especially in how it mirrors our own world at times, and it is thus thrilling to see the characters at the heart of it react and move through it. I suspect the rest of the series will be even more of a delight to read, and I can’t wait to see what Suri manages to weave together in the next book.


:: representation :: Indian-coded cast, lesbian MCs

:: content warnings :: murder, death, violence, homophobia (including internalized), suicidal ideation, immolation, self-mutilation, familial abuse, body horror, drug use, fire [more details]

Thank you to Orbit for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion in any way.

All quotes are taken from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.

// buddy read with kate and krisha!
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
596 reviews1,840 followers
September 16, 2021
rep: Indian inspired characters and setting, lesbian mcs
tw: homophobia, gore, violence, execution by burning, forced drug use, torture, death, body horror

Review also on Reads Rainbow. ARC provided by the publisher.

The Jasmine Throne is one of those books where even weeks and months after you’ve read it, you don’t stop thinking about it. But all that time also doesn’t make it easier to put into words all the reasons why the book leaves such an impression, why you’re so full of wonder over it. I can try, but alas.

Despite me recommending this book to everyone as lesbian fantasy, the best part about it is probably the worldbuilding. It’s inspired by Indian cultures, and you can clearly feel all the love the author put into creating the world, into research. It’s in the main plot arcs and it’s in the tiniest details; it’s in how one part of the empire is made to be homophobic after an invasion and in every description of the food the characters eat.

Most importantly, though, none of it is a crude info-dumping. Suri is a very talented author, knows where and when, and how to let the reader glimpse the world she created, so that the reader is fascinated and hungry for more, but never, ever bored. All the bits she puts forth create a rich world, a real world, with power dynamics that make sense, with problems but also miracles, with layers upon layers of details which add up to create something great, something monumental.

And the characters move through that world effortlessly, which is to say all of them seem an integral part of it but they also fight for their place in it. Especially the women. It’s not a black-and-white scenario where women are good and men are bad, but something is to be said about the men being power-hungry for the sake of wielding said power, and about women trying to find a path to more than the men allow them to have. It’s a very real situation, even with all the magic and the plants growing out of people’s bodies.

Yes, it’s a lesbian fantasy romance, but before that it’s a novel about women. All of them beautiful, all of them starving for what the world denies them, be it power, choices, independence. And they fight for it. Openly or in secret, physically or with words - the exact way they think will work best to achieve their goals, not how someone else advises them to do it. They know better. And they’re willing to reshape the empire to get what they want.

Then finally, there’s the romance. The intensity of it is unlike anything else. It’s central to the story in a way that at times it pushes the plot forward, without ever making it seem as if either Priya or Malini make decisions solely based on their love for the other. That love is undeniable and it shines through everything that happens, but it’s not the only propelling force of those women. It’s treated as something precious, both by Priya & Malini, and by the novel itself.

The Jasmine Throne is the kind of book that grips you from the start and doesn’t let go until the very last page. And even then, when you’re left alone with no more words, you’re still thinking about it all, about the pain, the hunger, the love. It’s the kind of book that carves out a piece of your heart it can live in forever, just like its characters strive to carve out a piece of the world for themselves.
Profile Image for Lexi.
512 reviews225 followers
January 24, 2022

🆗 Multi POV
👍 Epic fantasy
🆗 Sapphic romance
👍 Class and colonial themes
👍 Indian/desi inspired
🆗 Slow-moving

The Jasmine Throne is hard to rate, because Tasha Suri is an insanely skilled author, and this book will probably take off. That being said, I was overall underwhelmed. Let's talk about it.

The Jasmine Throne is about Priya, a servant to a local reagent, and Malini, a princess who has been imprisoned by her brother. There is a smaller cast of characters who get POVs- from revolutionaries to lords- all with a part to play.

It's hard to really define a plot of The Jasmine Throne because it's more like a prequel. The main conflict revolves around Malini escaping her prison, and growing discontent among the local population as her brother's grip becomes tighter on an already blighted nation.

The first part of the book was REALLY good. The world-building is steady and we really get a taste for daily life in this world. In particular, I really liked the introduction of Rot, a disease that makes a person rot like a dying plant.

I struggled as more POVs were introduced, as most of them felt like dressing to the two main POVs and didn't stand on their own much. They became very tedious to get through with minimal character development. There were some moments of intrigue with these characters, but these moments were not explored in detail, and I found myself wishing it was a dual POV book- the author did not seem particularly interested in these other characters. Especially the men- making male POVs VERY tedious and boring to get through.

Priya and Malini were interesting on their own, though I did not love their dynamic or romance. The story was actually a lot more interesting previous to their meeting. I will say for folks still interested, it's a medium burn, so no insta-love here.

The Indian setting was beautiful. Tasha Suri was super unapologetic in her set up of the world and goes so far as to use common Indian phrases in the story. She draws beautifully from Indian culture to develop a fantasy universe that is still uniquely her own.

I was frustrated with how often I would look for excuses to put The Jasmine Throne down, or tune out and need to re-read a section. It's got a lot of great ideas, but there's a certain "heart" missing from the story that prevented me from really digging into it. Part of this is due to the lack of effort in the extended POVs, and the other part of it may be because the whole point of this book was to set up for the next one. If you hop into this book with the understanding that it's a book meant to set up the main conflict rather than really go anywhere, I think it would be a lot more fun.

That being said, I look forward to seeing my friends get excited about this one. It's got a lot of potentials and will land with folks looking for sapphic epic fantasy.

Profile Image for Bhavya .
479 reviews900 followers
May 4, 2022
4/5/2022: Finished! 3.5 stars maybe? I still need to think a bit over it. I loved the book and enjoyed it a lot, and while the characters were well-written and likable, I couldn't quite connect with them on an emotional level, which was a bit disappointing. RTC! And currently making a spotify playlist.

*#3 Read for Asian Readathon 2022.


2/5/2022: Currently reading!


28/4/2022: So excited to read this in May!




8/5/2021: I NEED this book now.
Profile Image for hiba.
258 reviews369 followers
May 25, 2022

my first desi sapphic adult fantasy and it was a good enough time (with some major caveats).

first of all, this book has the prettiest writing ever and it's also really easy to read. the worldbuilding is rich and immersive, definitely one of the strongest aspects of this book. i loved the nature magic and how it served as a metaphor for reclaiming your colonized land, especially towards the end.

also, i loved that the author showed how ahiranya had an open, accepting culture before parijati imperialism brought in an extreme form of homophobia and misogyny. i appreciated the depiction of colonialism as something that not only physically takes over a land but also destroys its culture, religion and history.

i admit, priya and malini's slow-burn romance took me a bit of time to get invested into but by the end, i was rooting for them. i liked the fierce push and pull dynamic between them, how passionate yet gentle they were with each other.

as for the side characters, bhumika is a standout and basically my favorite character. she's the embodiment of the women whose stories get erased in history - the pregnant wife of a general, kept sheltered away from politics. i loved seeing her true self slowly get revealed over the course of the story.

i did have quite a few issues with this book though:

- i really don't like how the author handled the rebellion - the rebels were portrayed negatively even though they were simply resisting against their colonial oppressors. the book tried to make it seem like there are grey areas to colonial resistance and i can't disagree enough - colonized people have the right to violently resist against their oppressors.
- most of the side characters, namely the men, were boring and forgettable as hell.
- the pacing wasn't great - the book was too long for me at times and i wish there were more action and dramatic moments to balance things out, it was all a bit too slow and steady.
- i think there was some mismarketing around this book - these lesbians are not morally grey i'm afraid. priya is literally the opposite of a morally grey character. i guess you could argue malini is but none of her actions are that bad in relation to everything else that happens in the story. the author really tried to sell malini as this dark, potentially monstrous person but honestly, i didn't buy it.

despite its faults, i think this story has a lot of potential and i'm looking forward to the sequel.

rep: indian coded world + cast, indian lesbian mcs

cws: homophobia, suicidal ideation, immolation, self-mutilation, familial abuse, body horror, drug use
Profile Image for Gillian.
144 reviews199 followers
January 16, 2022
This book was so good! The world that the author created is magical and unique. Tasha Suri is a great storyteller and her writing is amazing! The pacing was slow in the beginning and it took me a little while to get into the story, but once I did I felt completely immersed in the story. I loved all the characters, they are complex and have so many layers. I loved Priya and Malini, they are so strong and fierce! I really liked that the author made the characters feel so real and relatable. I also appreciated the LGBTQ+ representation.
Profile Image for gauri.
195 reviews456 followers
August 5, 2021
check out the full review along with an aesthetic on my blog!

"There are other versions of you that I don't know. But this one..." Her fingers were against Malini's lips. "This one is mine."

Tasha Suri has done it again. I am so grateful to her for that.

The Jasmine Throne, the start of a new trilogy, introduces us to a feminist tale, a revolution waiting to unfold, set in an Indian inspired world with a unique but deadly magic system, layers of politics and morally grey characters. This multi-POV story with our morally grey lesbians Malini and Priya as protagonists, is epic fantasy at its best.

Malini, our Imperial Princess, is imprisoned by her zealot brother in the Hiranya, a temple with secrets. She’s desperate to be released and is willing to do whatever she can to depose him from the throne. I really liked her character, being the strategist that she is. She’s tactful, an iron fist in a velvet glove, knows what cards to play and what politics to apply to achieve her goals which is what draws people to her cause.

Priya, the maidservant with secret powers, who has a tendency to kindness as seen from the beginning itself. Her soft heartedness is not a weakness though, her love for her family and her fading culture and the understanding of her magic is what drives her throughout the book. She’s all sharp edges, her resilience stood out to me.

And like the summary says, together they do change the fate of the empire. Both of them are complex, strong and ruthless with clear goals in sight. They are sharpened by their pain, the abuse they’ve suffered. They stand on opposite ends, ready to use one another but also learn to trust each other. It was an absolute delight to see their relationship develop, the conflicts that passed through them leading to a delicious slow burn. I was left wondering if they would betray each other or make it together to accomplish their goals.

To support our wonderful duo, we have the POVs of a supporting cast — Bhumika, a highborn lady with secret magic who only wants to see her land and people safe; Rao, the nameless prince with a prophecy to fulfill and Ashok, a rebel leader willing to pay any price to set his nation free. Despite the many characters, Tasha manages to keep us hooked to the tenuous plot without confusions. Each character had a distinct motivation and voice and I loved how their stories entangle. (All I ask is to see more of Rao, he’s so precious).

Ultimately, the narrative is driven by the three women, Priya, Malini and Bhumika. I’m always all in to see women take the lead, and in an empire like Parijat these three are the real deal. They’ve all made sacrifices, steeled themselves because they know their power. It’s satisfying, to watch these women fight back in their own monstrous ways when they’re often subdued and burned in Parijat.

The world-building is top notch, to simply put it. We get to know of the different faiths to exists across the kingdoms — the nameless gods, mothers of flame, the yaksa; the history of the nations; the power plays and how imperialism cuts off people from their roots and their cultures are left to fade away.

The magic system does not only add to the fantasy element of the book but also demonstrates the terrible effects of Parijat’s imperial rule over Ahiranya. Tasha handles the oppression and how conquering of nations eats away their own culture and reduces the people to pawns of the empire with sensitivity and sharpness. It’s thought-provoking to us readers.

It’s so beautifully written, there are so many highlights in my copy, of quotes that shook me or passages that haunt me, I wish I could include them all. The dialogue and prose is exceptional and immersive. My favourite instances have to be the ones that describe the setting or architecture of the world. Tasha writes a vivid, ingenious tale of taking what’s stolen from you through characters that are flawed but can’t help rooting for. The pacing perfectly builds up the tensions and events through the book.

Reading The Jasmine Throne felt so comforting. A queer fantasy inspired by my own culture is all I’ve ever wanted and Tasha freaking delivered. The world and setting is so familiar to me, identifying the twists and fresh takes on elements of Indian history and folklore made my reading experience all the more thrilling.

All in all, The Jasmine Throne is a phenomenal story of brutal empires, reclaiming power, love and family. If you’re looking for a cleanly woven plot with interesting characters and a wonderful Indian inspired world, I highly recommend The Jasmine Throne! I cannot wait to see what unfolds in the coming books.

There isn't a single thing that I didn't like in the book: the complex plot, the sapphic yearning, the magic system, the influential side characters, the scheming, the Indian rep and the beautiful descriptions. I'm so eager to see how the series progresses.

If you're looking for a fantasy with a cleanly woven plot and interesting characters, I highly highly recommend The Jasmine Throne! Need for book 2 is intolerable.

Thank you Netgalley and Orbit Books for the ARC!
Profile Image for luce (that loser crying on the n° 2 bus).
1,436 reviews4,035 followers
May 27, 2022
blogthestorygraphletterboxd tumblrko-fi

4 ½ stars

Trust me, her face said.
That was the problem with making allies. At some point, inevitably, there came a moment when a decision had to be made: Could this one be trusted? Had their loyalty been won? Was their generosity a façade for a hidden knife?”

I more or less inhaled this 500+ page novel in two days.
Tasha Suri's The Jasmine Throne may be one of the best high fantasy novels I've ever read. Superbly written The Jasmine Throne presents its readers with an evoking Indian inspire setting, A+ world-building, a cast of compelling and morally ambiguous characters, a sapphic romance (think Fingersmith by way of Marie Rutkoski), and plenty of intriguing storylines that will keep you on the edge-of-your-seat. In other words, The Jasmine Throne is high fantasy at its best. It is exceedingly original and utterly captivating.

“But some men dream of times long dead, and times that never existed, and they're willing to tear the present apart entirely to get them.”

The Jasmine Throne transports us to Ahiranya a nation plagued by a peculiar disease known as the rot. Ahiranya was conquered by Paraijatdvipa which is ruled by the fanatical Emperor Chandra. Between the 'rot-riven' and the growing discontentment towards the harsh Paraijatdvipan rule, Ahiranya is a nation on the verge.
Priya who works in the household of the regent of Ahiranya tries to help 'rot-riven' children. Although she does her best to hide her true identity and past the arrival of Malini, Emperor Chandra's disgraced sister, complicates things, especially when Malini witnesses her powers.

After refusing to be burned at a pyre, in order to be 'purified', Malini is sent by her zealot brother to Hirana, a treacherous temple that was left abandoned after the deaths of its 'children'.

Once Malini sees Priya in action she requests her as her maidservant. The two feel pulled to each other but both are aware that their desires may not align.

The Jasmine Throne provides its readers with a fantastic cast of characters. First, Priya and Malini. These two young women have been through a lot (and when I say a lot, I mean it). They have every reason not to trust one another but they cannot deny the nature of their feelings. To call it 'love' doesn't feel quite right given the positions they are in. Malini's brother is responsible for many horrific things, many of them which have left their mark on Priya and her homeland. Also, both at one point or another end up using the other. Yet, their relationship is *chef's kiss*. There is yearning, lust, hate, understanding...
Of course, I found each of their character arcs to be just as captivating as the relationship that develops between them. They face many impossible situations and we may not always agree with their choices.
The characters around them are just engaging. From Bhumika, the regent's wife, to Rao, Prem, and even Ashok. I loved the tension between all of them, as well as the betrayals and revelations we get along the way.

The world-building is top tier stuff. From the religions (we have the nameless god, the yaksa, the mothers of flame, each one is truly intriguing) and tales that shape each empire (the nameless to the magical elements. I found Suri's storytelling to be truly immersive. There are many beautiful and haunting passages (“Family don't have a duty to be kind to you. They have a duty to make you better. Stronger.” and “The first time Malini learned how to hold a knife was also the day she learned how to weep.”), as well as insightful discussions on power, revenge, and forgiveness.

It had been a while since I'd read something that gave me the so-called 'feels' but The Jasmine Throne sure did. Suri has crafted an engrossing tale that made me feel as if I was riding a rollercoaster. And that finale...wow. I have yet to recover from it. Suffice to say, I am anxious about the sequel (please Suri, be gentle on us!).

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Not My High.
286 reviews827 followers
April 22, 2023
No way. NO WAY. NOOOOOOO WAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AGGHGGAHGAGAGAG golesbians
Profile Image for literarylesbian.
226 reviews2,525 followers
May 30, 2021
I fell so hard for this entire book. I loved the relationship and the intricacies of the world and it’s magic. This book really makes the reader question who they’re rooting for in the best way possible.

First off, the world and magic. The world building was super well done and was rather simple to understand despite its complexities. I thought it was really creative and included nods to Indian mythology and culture, which is always super cool to see in any book. I think fantasy books with references to underrepresented mythology is super cool to see, especially when so many of the retellings are dominated by the same white washed stories.

The characters and romance were equally as intriguing. I thought that the characters unique perspectives was enhanced by the changing point of views. Despite the amount of POVs, it was still easy to understand. The morally grey lesbians were just *chefs kiss*. This romance is slow burn, and I mean SLOW burn. But it has you on the edge of your seat regardless just yelling at the book “KISS ALREADY”. This buildup makes it all the more satisfying when they finally do.

Definitely recommend you preorder this book (I already have as well!) It comes out on June 8th and is own voices. I recommend supporting own voices reviewers and their opinions regarding this book as opposed to me.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,198 reviews3,672 followers
June 13, 2021
I went into this book with high expectations and it did not disappoint!!! Lovers of epic fantasy, do yourselves a favor and get a copy of The Jasmine Throne. It is an intricate, feminist, political fantasy with a large cast of characters, sapphic representation, and really interesting world-building inspired by the history and epics of India. Thus far, easily the best fantasy of 2021 for me.

Malini is a princess imprisoned by her brother for refusing to willingly burn on a pyre. Kept isolated in an ancient, magical temple and drugged, one of the only people she has contact with is her maidservant Priya. But Priya is more than she seems and carries a dangerous secret from her past.

This is a story of kingdoms rising and falling, rebel factions, dangerous magic, and competing religious beliefs. I don't want to say too much because you should just experience it for yourself but I loved the nuanced characters, the unique magic, and the way she plays on competing loyalties. Oh and the powerful women who refuse to stay in the corners meant for them. This book was everything I wanted it to be. I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books466 followers
February 6, 2022
"There is power that is showy and fierce. And there is power that is grown slowly, and stronger for the time spent braiding its ancient strength.”

So What’s It About?

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.

What I Thought

If you’re looking for fantasy books about morally complex lesbians and colonialism you now have a few series to choose from - off the top of my head there’s Seth Dickinson’s Masquerade series and C.L. Clark’s The Unbroken, as well as The Jasmine Throne. I think this one is really, really good, guys.

I think this book’s shining strength is how complex the relationships between all of the characters are. Everywhere you look there’s another nuanced dynamic: Pramila hates Malini because she survived the burning when Pramila’s daughter didn’t, while part of her genuinely believes that they both should have burned, while Priya and Bhumika resent each other and struggle to get along despite -or perhaps because of -being two of the only temple children left. Ashok genuinely thinks he is justified in hurting Priya for the greater good; Bhumika almost loves the husband who sees her as nothing more than an ornament and a vessel for children.

The most interesting relationship is of course the fraught dynamic between Malini and Priya, and it is a very juicy one indeed. Malini manipulates and seduces to survive and she does this to Priya, using her out of desperation and necessity. Priya resents how much she is attracted to her and abhors her manipulation when she discovers it, struggling to trust her and know what is real. At the same time Malini is, in fact, real with Priya in a way she isn’t with anyone else, and when she fears her own capacity for cruelty Priya insists to her that she is one person who will not be hurt by her - who sees her at her worst and still cares. It’s a really fascinating dynamic and I am so looking forward to seeing how their relationship develops from here.

There are a few minor weaknesses to some of the aspects of characterization, although I clearly feel that the characterization is a strength by and large. I think Malini’s grief over her maids’ death could have been a little more at the forefront, but she’s also drugged and struggling to escape her prison for most of the book so maybe that’s not super practical. I’m also not totally convinced by the explanation given by the book for Bhumika’s marriage to Vikram - it says that her family’s political clout was used to erase her past as a temple child, but I don’t know if I buy that. I wasn’t sure about Ashok’s decision not to drink the deathless water while on the brink of death and speaking of death, Prem’s demise was not deeply emotionally resonant to me. My final nitpicks are that all of the characters speak in a very similar elegant style and I wish their voices had been a bit more distinct, and that a few of the one-off POV characters felt a little bit cumbersome.

As far as the book’s take on empire, one of my favorite things is that there are so many differences of opinion among the different rebels. Ashok wants complete freedom for Ahiranya and will achieve it through any kind of brutality, while Bhumika initially views resistance through the preservation of culture and scholarship to be the most important thing and abhors Ashok’s methods. Meanwhile Rao and his cohort simply want Chandra off the throne and Aditya on it without caring for the people or fate of Ahiranya at all, looking down upon them and seeing no fundamental problem with the empire. When Ashok leads a bloody attack, Priya only sees the retribution that will occur while Ashok believes that he has to prove his point by any means necessary.

The book also reflects on different kinds of power, concluding that oppression and hierarchy are not the only kind of power that exist - community and protection and safety are their own kind of power. There is the power of direct force pitted against the power of manipulation and the strength of playing at weakness and showing different faces to different people. Finally, there is the terrible cost of attaining power and how its attainment measures up against the good you can do with it once you have it and the things that you have to do to keep it.

The magic and world-building are intriguing, with the deathless waters and the yaksa possession, the mysterious emergence of the rot at the same time as the new generation of temple children, the mothers burning themselves to stop the Age of Flowers and whatever the heck is happening with Chandra at the end. My one quibble here is that an explanation of the deathless waters and why only Priya can find them comes about halfway through the book, and I think it could have come earlier. It works well to have the flashback to the night of the burning followed directly by Priya finding the deathless waters again, but I think that the book could have explained that the waters are hidden/constantly moving and Priya has a special connection with the temple much earlier to spare readers some wondering.

As far as pacing goes, it’s definitely true that the first half is much, much slower than the second half, which ramps up in intensity and features an onslaught of very exciting scenes one after the other (in addition to lots and lots of travel that gets skimmed over). If you can’t tell from what I’ve said already I found so much to enjoy here. This is an intelligent, thoughtful and absorbing epic fantasy and I am truly eager for the next book.
Profile Image for Silvia .
642 reviews1,427 followers
June 10, 2021
I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

4.5 stars

This was my first Tasha Suri book and I was drawn in by the promise of morally grey lesbians in an India-inspired epic fantasy (and also the fact that the author's bunnies are named Wei Ying and Lan Zhan. but mostly it was the lesbians) and all I can say is Suri definitely delivered on all fronts!

It's really hard to decide where to begin with in this review, because the books has so many themes and they all seamlessly blend into a story that's as much character driven as it is dense with events that move the plot forward. I am someone who absolutely adores multiple POV in fantasy and I really enjoyed seeing all the different point of views and how by the end they spiraled into a bigger focus on the three women that are the main protagonists. And this really sums up the heart of the beginning of this series: a focus on women who could not be more different from each other in their strengths, but they all have learned to move in a heavily patriarchal society to get what they want, be it sometimes something as simple as surviving.

The romance between Priya and Malini had a lot of nice moments and I can't wait to see how things develop in the rest of the series. I admit I didn't have many strong feelings about the romance, I didn't have a really big gasping-out-loud moment (or if I did it didn't have to do with the romance), but that isn't to say I didn't enjoy it. I certainly root for them and am looking forward to see how they'll have to navigate yet another unfortunate facet of a patriarchal society -homophobia- and I know this will be handled with care and grace, even if it should become a more relevant theme than in this first book.

Something else I really liked was the writing, and actually one of the reasons I was so slow reading this book (other than the fact that I'm not used to reading physical books and that I'm generally speaking a slow reader) is the fact that I really wanted to take my time reading each sentence without skipping words, it's hard to explain but usually when it takes me a long time to read a book it's because I'm enjoying it a lot and not skipping sentences or skimming to the next dialogue. So that's definitely one more sign I liked this.

So all I can do is recommend this gorgeous book which is filled with characters you won't easily forget, really beautiful writing and a critical look at so many themes like empire, colonialism, religion, sexism and so much more.

TWs (from the author's site): Explicit violence including immolation and self-immolation, Gender-based violence (this does not include sexual assault), Homophobia and internalised homophobia, Suicidal ideation, Self-mutilation, Abusive family dynamics, Child murder, Body horror (plant-based, cosmic), Forced drug use and depictions of addiction/withdrawal
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,062 followers
April 3, 2023
Me costó bastante entrar por este libro, al principio me parecía muy típico en todas sus formas exceptuando la ambientación, pero llegados a cierto punto tanto la trama como los personajes empezaron a volverse mucho más interesantes y me vi totalmente enganchada para acabar amándolo.
Es una novela de fantasía épica que a pesar de su ritmo inicial logra atrapar por un universo que la autora va hilando poco a poco, cuanto más descubres sobre los yaksas, las aguas sagradas o el origen del Hirana, más te va enamorando. Y aunque sea la clásica historia de rebeldes contra un gobierno cruel y dictatorial, sus personajes demuestran estar lejos de cualquier ideal y estar llenos de grises, mis preferidas son sin duda Malini y Bhumika (REINA MÁXIMA).
Este volumen se ha centrado bastante más en Priya y su historia personal así que espero con ansias que el segundo se centre más en Malini, con sus estrategias políticas y su mundo de grandes señores.
Me gustó mucho cómo uno de los grandes enemigos de toda la novela es una enfermedad, y el principal objetivo de Priya es acabar con ella.
En conclusión, un libro super recomendable si queréis una lectura absorbente y que te va ganando más y más con cada página.
Pd. Por favor necesito saber más sobre la era de las flores!
Profile Image for dd (danerys).
472 reviews224 followers
August 12, 2022
✧ ↝ 4 stars

disclaimer: this review is very much a hideous mess

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i’m always so intimidated by fantasy, because it means i have to learn a new magic system before i can actually enjoy the story, but this had been on my tbr for a while (a morally gray sapphic romance, how could i not want to read that) and i appreciate myself for actually reading it when my hold was ready.

the plot of this book was well-done but also contributed nothing particularly new to the genre.

there is an oppressive empire.

there’s a rebellion (who are considered to be too violent and a bit corrupt).

there is the main character, Priya, who is actually apparently one of the most magical/powerful people even though she just works as a maid but is actually going to save the world.

it’s way less awful than it sounds, i promise.

the manner in which those elements are executed really saves the story, it isn’t too black and white while pretending to be gray, which happens in a lot of dystopian and fantasy books where there’s a rebellion but mcs can’t decide what the Right Thing is. While there are some discussions about morality that were a bit overdone, most of it kept my attention

… and had me rooting for the good guys!😊 (jk)

let’s be honest, the main thing i wanted from this book was the sapphic romance set in the fantasy world because let’s be honest again, romances are always better when they’re in a fantasy as opposed to a romance novel. i don’t make the rules, that’s just how it is, but damn is it unfortunate for romance authors. food for thought: maybe that’s why so many romance books suck ass

apparently i’m feeling mean today.

this book was actually good though so idk what is wrong with me just ignore me tbh.

the characters are a pretty prominent part of books usually so let’s start with them.

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is the main character with the magical powers i was telling you about. yay!

she actually has to work for it though, she’s tough in the way that she can survive but is also not capable of doing much in the way of morally wrong things to gain power, etc. maybe that will change. it seems like it definitely could.

she was a good main character because she didn’t whine like so many main characters do, and it felt like she deserved it when she got shit done and got her magic and powers.

she was very kind as well, not necessarily soft on the outside but did kind things for others and was honestly good.

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was a more complicated character than Priya, with more complicated motives as well. their relationship was heavily built around the fact that they could ultimately just be using each other, especially Malini using Priya. Malini’s character complexities had a lot to do with the fact that she was a ‘traitor’ princess, therefore her goals were related to the empire’s politics and seeing who would be the ruler etc.

she was almost Priya’s opposite, being soft on the outside but extremely calculating and cunning.

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was my favorite character no questions asked. i’m not even going to tell you why i liked her because i’m too lazy and it’s hard to explain, so i guess you’ll just have to read the book and judge for yourself.

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those are all the characters i’m going to cover, my three girls 💕💗💓💖💕

the romance was obviously the best part, the angst and yearning and sheer wanting ughhhhhh

fun fact: priya and malini have their first kiss under a waterfall fkdjskaksjdjjsjahdjdw

it’s amazing.

other amazing things:

- the representation
- the writing
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