[Review contains potential spoilers for Jasmine Throne, book 1 of The Burning Kingdoms trilogy]
I finished Oleander Sword and now I don’t know what to do with myself. How dare it end there?! Where’s the next book?! I need to know what’s going to happen next!!
Oleander Sword picks up a year after the events of Jasmine Throne. Bhumika and Priya are Elders of Ahiranya and trying to lead their country into a prosperous future, but are having to deal with the politics of the highborn and also trying to stop the spread of the rot, if they can’t reverse it’s effects. Malini is empress but she’s still having to fight to hold that title, especially as her brother Chandra has found a weapon that makes people question the veracity of the prophecies claiming she is the true and rightful leader of Parijatdvipa. Her claims to the throne are also hindered by men who would rather see her brother Aditya as emperor, as he is the eldest and was once the crown prince, but he has no interest in ruling; he sees his place as a priest for the nameless.
This book had me immediately in my feelings and needing someone to scream with because the way Tasha Suri executes emotional complexity alongside political machinations and ripple effect manipulations in nothing short of masterful. The prose is absolutely gorgeous, but for me this book is all about the emotions. Everyone is trying to do what they believe to be the right thing and so many are working towards their goals for love – of someone, of country, of faith. I love the complexity of these characters and how hard it sometimes is to sus out who is in the right and who is in the wrong – especially as so many of these characters are doing bad or harmful things for the right reasons.
Oleander Sword is absolutely gorgeous on so many levels and really delves into complexities of motivations and goals while also giving space for softness and love. But even the soft, loving elements have thorns and hurt. Priya, Malini, Bhumika, and all the other characters are trying their best in a world and time when sometimes the best you can do is offer your enemy a quick death. But who is the true enemy when ancient powers are coming back into the world?
I just, I am utterly in awe of the writing and the story Tasha Suri is telling with this series and cannot wait for the third book’s release. If you’re a fan of epic fantasy with complicated motivations, nuanced interpersonal dynamics, and messy, messy feelings you absolutely need to read this book!