The Jasmine Throne

Orbit. (The Burning Kingdoms, Bk. 1). Jun. 2021. 512p. ISBN 9780316538510. pap. $16.99. FANTASY
This LGBTQ YA-crossover epic fantasy features two strong women drawn together by difficult circumstances, in a fully detailed, India-inspired setting. Malini is imprisoned in the stark Hirana temple for defying her brother the emperor; Priya becomes Malini’s maidservant and then her confidant. But Priya is hiding a secret of her own: she knows the mysteries of the Hirana because she lived there as a child and is still connected to its powerful magic. Meanwhile, more and more city residents are falling ill with a mysterious “rot,” and treatments are proving ineffective. Could the Hirana’s magic make a difference?
VERDICT Suri (Realm of Ash) has created this world with great deliberation, including details about clothing, cuisine, and architecture. Malini and Priya both have depth and nuance, and their attraction to each other is written with care and sensitivity. Changing viewpoints help move the action along, but this is the first book in a trilogy, which inevitably means that some of the plotting will set the stage for books to come. Offer this to fans of Tanaz Bhathena or S.A. Chakraborty.
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