The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The story is set in the cultural milieu of the Indian subcontinent and the author Suri does a very good job finding the balance between elements that would be familiar to western readers and the foreign/exotic details that make the world unique and compelling. One advantage of reading on a Kindle app is that I can quickly look up existing terms if needed. The principal conflict comes from a typical conqueror/conquered dynamic, where the cruelty and oppression of the ruling emperor and his sycophants feeds an undercurrent of sedition and rebellion. There are also elements of social strata conflict and gender [role] bias that play an important role in the story. The magic system is a hybrid religious and [nature] spiritual/supernatural format with a nominal Hindu feel, where certain rituals [bathing in sacred waters] and physical matrices [sacred wood] can generate, hold and distribute “gifts” (aka magic). There is a hint of desperation in the mix from a mysterious pandemic (aka ‘the rot’) that helps develop very sympathetic main characters. The two protagonists begin in different social strata with a shared antagonist (the Emperor) that helps to push the two together until they can develop a much deeper/emotional/somewhat romantic relationship … and here I think the author does a fantastic job with the slow burn that doesn’t overwhelm the story. Realistic and complicated family dynamics add even more to the over all drama. While the ending does set the stage for the sequel (which I am looking forward to reading), it is was a solid enough conclusion that the book can stand alone.
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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My Ratings Explained ...
- [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
- [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
- [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
- [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
- [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.