“I have always made myself into what was required of me. I have always belonged to someone else. My father, my mother, my husband. And I think I want something- someone- that is mine.”
So what’s the book about?
Ahiranya is a nation ruled by a fanatical emperor while dealing with a disease called rot. In the process, this nation stands on the precipice. The citizens feel increasingly dissatisfied towards the Paraijatdvipan rule. Malini now spends her days imprisoned by the fanatic emperor who is her brother. But the place that is her prison is actually an ancient temple that was a source of powerful magic. The maid Priya, through complicated circumstances, becomes the maid of the imprisoned Malini to keep her company as well. At first Priya appears to be a kind-hearted person who wants to help the rotten children, but in reality her identity hides a person who holds a lot of power. And so Malini and Priya’s fates become directly intertwined.
Why I wanted to read this series?
I love exploring different cultures, so I thought The Jasmine Throne would be just right for me. I haven’t found an Indian setting in a book before, so I wanted to read this one even more. And since it is published by my favourite publisher Orbit, I knew in advance that it would be a very good book. That’s why I’m very happy that NetGalley confirmed my request and that I was allowed to read the book even before it was published. Nevertheless, I have already pre-ordered the paperback.
These aspects attracted me the most while reading.
- Priya is fantastically integrated into the story at the beginning of the book, because in the very first pages, you realise that she is a woman of pure heart. She helps the poor who are struggling with a disease – the rot. So you notice right away what kind of personality Priya has. Her strength should not be overlooked, along with her good-heartedness. She is not characterised as strong in a masculine way, but has a strength that only a woman can possess. She is a rebel and fighter of her very own kind and therefore does not have to resort to masculine characteristics, as is often the case. It is nice to see that, in a certain way, a completely natural and normal woman can also be a fighter and that you don’t have to come across as arrogant and overly intelligent, but that you can also have heart as a strong main character. In many ways she reminded me of myself, which is why I was even more enthusiastic about her. She simply has a heart of gold.
- Malini is also a very interesting woman, in her own unique way. In some situations, you can see that she is a princess and can also exercise a certain power. But I was particularly interested in Malini’s flashbacks and hallucinations. Through them you learn more about her history, the place where she grew up and also about her brother Chandra – the dictator brother. These flashbacks also show some other characters, who are of course not discussed in detail, but who show what life is like for the Paraijatdvipa. Also, through Malini, the feeling can be given that women have little to say in this world and especially through her cruel brother it comes out even more clearly. This of course reminds us of the stories of our times about the oppression of women, which of course can be established very appropriately in a fantasy setting.
- Bhumika a woman of very different strength. I have to say that she was my favourite character, even though she may not be the most likeable character. She is tough, but fair. She sacrifices herself to achieve something greater and save her people. Through Bhumika, one can also experience the oppression of women, as she is the only one married to a man in this book. Even though her husband seems nice, he has different values than she does and thus she has no right to express anything “intelligent”. The author describes each of the three main female characters differently, so each has her own kind of strength and on its own very interesting personality.
- The author has created a very mysterious but effective and authentic world here. It doesn’t seem to drift too much into typical fantasy world building, but it feels very real. All aspects of good world building are also used. Firstly, the religion dealing with the nameless god, the yaksa and the mothers of flame. And you also learn a little bit about the history and the political intrigues. Also, of course, the magic that has to do with the temple children, but I don’t want to give too much away here. These, however, somehow gave me a feeling as if it had something to do with Buddhism or Hinduism. The culture is what also shapes this world, of course through history and also through religion. But also the fact that the women here wear saris was something that gave the whole thing something realistic.
- Readers of my blog know that I love political stories. And even though that is not the single focus of this book, I was not disappointed. On the one hand, the ruler who has undermined an entire population group who now have to fight for their continued existence. On the other hand, the oppressed women, who have hardly any rights in this world, are not taken seriously and in some respects are not even noticed. And lastly, the story also features the rebels. I always like stories that have to do with revolutions, because I can always empathize there. The hot blood that burns in the rebels always awakens a fire in me.
So what are my final thoughts about it?
I would love to spoil this book as there are so many exciting things happening, but of course I will NOT. So you will have to read the book yourself if you want to find out. There are so many secrets in this book that are revealed or just want to be revealed and so the book got more and more exciting towards the end. It has to be said that the characters are especially prominent here and they go through a great development. That’s why I’m eager to read more about each of them, because none of them seemed boring. Only in the first third of the book there are a few long stretches that bothered me at first, but towards the end of the book, it got more and more exciting and you couldn’t put the book down. A great start to this series and I am eagerly awaiting the next book!
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