I love Tasha Suri’s books. They are rich with rage and want and hope. The Jasmine Throne is all of that. It is so far up the alley of so many Cannonballers that I am shocked that I am the first to review it here.
The Jasmine Throne focuses on three women, the subjugated nation of Ahiranya, and the Empire of Parijatdvipa. Priya is a maid in the Regent of Ahiranya’s palace in the city of Hiranaprastha. Malini is the sister of the newly crowned Emperor Chandra, sent to Ahiranya to remove her from her sphere of political influence, imprisoned until she agrees to bow to her brother’s whims. Bhumika is the pregnant wife of the Regent, chosen because she is from a highborn Ahiranyi family. All the women have secrets and power that the patriarchal Parijati power structures do not recognize. By the end of the book, each woman has claimed or reclaimed power and is situated to act on the world.
The Jasmine Throne brings us into the world near a moment of crisis. Ahiranya did not join the empire willingly, and though the Regent, has kept a degree of peace, the city of Hiranaprastha is tense. Emperor Chandra is cruel and a misogynist. His desire to rule more strictly than his father is coalescing opposition to his rule.
Suri explores power – what it looks like, how to wield it, and how to oppose it. Legacy and heritage are also important. But all of those things are explored through fascinating characters, the best of whom are degrees of morally grey. There are some interesting moments when characters of different perspective are in conflict about rights and power. I can see how even some of the protagonists are going to have their world views up ended in the next two books.
There is quite a bit of violence and implied violence. A lot of the violence is gendered (no sexual violence), and children are also targets. There were times hen it felt very close to our current circumstances. I had to switch from the audiobook to the print book because hearing Shiromi Arserio describe the scenes was more than my anxiety could take. It’s not hard to see why multiple characters are ready to burn everything down, and I also empathized with Bhumika’s attempt to thread a middle path.
The Oleander Sword is out soon and I am dying, just dying to know where the story takes us. It seems clear to me that Malini won’t get exactly what she wants, but I really hope she dethrones Chandra. I expect Chandra will lose the coming battle. But what will the empire look like afterwards? Will Malini have learned that there is no benevolent empire? And what is Rao’s name (you have to read the book to find out why that’s a question worth asking)?
The author has good content warnings on her website. But I would also add use of animals in public executions.
If you haven’t read any Tasha Suri yet, and don’t want to start a fantasy series in progress, do look at her previous series Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash.