(And Why You Need to Pick It Up ASAP!)
My thoughts and review of The Jasmine Throne, a 2021 desi sapphic adult-fantasy bestseller that you need to pick up as soon as possible!
(I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher Orbit Books and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour)
A desi adult-fantasy with just the right ingredients!
The Jasmine Throne was in my most-anticipated releases of 2021 and I was so happy that I could participate in the blog tour! I was intrigued from the beginning and I have to say, I loved every bit of it!
🌻And so I also gave my own twist to the book cover!🌻
The Jasmine Throne is set in a world much inspired by medieval India and along with the author’s spellbinding imagination and writing, the end product was a novel I was not going to forget anytime soon!
We follow the two protagonists Malini, an exiled princess of the kingdom and sister to a very hate-mongering Emperor, and Priya, a maidservant who is tasked to take care of her. But not all is as it seems. Behind the now, needle flower drug-addled mind of Malini, there was once a sharp wit and political wisdom and Priya has her own secrets to hide – her history as a temple child.
Apart from them there are a host of other characters – princes, rebels, lords and ladies, all of whom play various major and minor roles in the culmination of this story. Executed with stupendous talent, the world of The Jasmine Throne is one you will never forget!
Desi Representation and Other Highlights in The Jasmine Throne
🌻Women in saris
🌻The food (Oh my god, I swear I have lost count of the number of times I have smacked my lips as I read on through the nights)
🌻Traditional and religious beliefs (or rather, the way they reflected our own differences in worship and practices)
🌻The architecture (havelis, temples, pleasure houses and all of it!)
🌻THE WATERFALL WET SARI SCENE 👀
🌻Women rising against the patriarchy!
🌻Morally-grey characters and Sapphic Leads!
Relationships and Family Dynamics in The Jasmine Throne
Oh what a tangled thread this bit was! Human relationships and all its nuances were nudged upon via the interactions of these characters.
Malini’s brother wants her to burn to become pure. Priya’s brother wants to use her for his own agenda. Malini and Priya need to work together despite the doubts and queries about the other, that plague their minds.
We have Bhumika, a former temple-child and Priya’s temple-sister who has chosen her path to survive. There is Rukh who is torn between his loyalties. We also have Prince Rao and Prince Prem who are making allies and enemies in the path to achieving their goal.
As I read, I was amazed at the ways in which all of it was intertwined and how it affected the people and their actions.
Myths and Allusions in The Jasmine Throne
I especially love how the author included myths and legends from our own stories and alluded to them often in the book. It was like coming across Easter Eggs that really made me, as an Indian person, feel represented and alive!
Priya once tells the story of how a man was born under lucky stars and therefore could not marry another human. And so her marries a tree. For those that know, this is very much inspired from the ways Maanglik people conduct their marriages.
There was also a reference to the ‘palace of illusions’ in the form of a pleasure house that was literally named as such. Priya spoke of a beautiful queen who had many husbands – clearly a reference to Draupadi from the epic Mahabharata.
There was also the story of how Aloran people did not reveal their true names to others. It was in fact very relatable as we often do not reveal our names (those assigned at birth by the priests, and written on our astrological charts, made at the time of our births). I remember how I and my brother were told never to reveal it except for religious purposes.
World-Building, Politics and Romance
The world-building was definitely one of the best points about the book, if not the best. I loved how an entire nation was conjured up by Tasha Suri’s imagination and was given life to. The legends and historiography also helped in this regard. It was such lush imagery, that as a reader it clearly brought up images in my mind’s eye.
When it comes to the politics of this world, it is inevitable that I also talk about the secrets that the characters held close to them. They held their cards close to them throughout and it was only on the crucial points that the important bits were revealed!
A lot of the book is political precisely because of the way in which Malini and Priya meet. Being a politically exiled person, albeit a princess, Malini’s actions are limited and at the same time, every action she takes has some importance. Without trying to reveal much or give any spoilers, I must say that it is in some ways very reflective to the world today – in the curbing of the people’s ways of living, be it sexual, philosophical, political or even religious.
The romance was thrillingly slow-burn and it kept me on the edge of my seat. From princess/maid dynamics to allies to lovers, it was a long ride and I was rooting from them throughout.
What Didn’t Work
My only complaint was the way the middle bit of the story became slow. The pace was dragging and I thought some of it was just filler material and could have been done without.
What ‘The Jasmine Throne’ is about
Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.
Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.
But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication date: 08 June 2021
Age group: Adult
Trigger/Content Warnings in The Jasmine Throne
- Child murder
- Human sacrifice
- Abusive family dynamics
- Forced drug use, depictions of addiction/withdrawal
- Colourism, xenophobia
- Violence against women
- Homophobia/internalized homophobia
- Body horror
About the author
Tasha Suri was born in Harrow, north-west London. The daughter of Punjabi parents, she spent many childhood holidays exploring India with her family, and still fondly remembers the time she was chased around the Taj Mahal by an irate tour guide. She studied English and creative writing at Warwick University, and now lives in London where she works as a librarian. To no one’s surprise, she owns a cat. A love of period Bollywood films, history and mythology led her to begin writing South Asian influenced fantasy. Tasha Suri has won the British Fantasy Society Best Newcomer Award and Starburst Brave New Words Award.
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