The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri
Series: Burning Kingdoms #2
Expected publication: August 16th 2022 by Orbit
Age Range: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Representation: Indian-coded cast, lesbian MCs
The prophecy of the nameless god—the words that declared Malini the rightful empress of Parijatdvipa—has proven a blessing and curse. She is determined to claim the throne that fate offered her. But even with the strength of the rage in her heart and the army of loyal men by her side, deposing her brother is going to be a brutal and bloody fight.
The power of the deathless waters flows through Priya’s blood. Thrice born priestess, Elder of Ahiranya, Priya’s dream is to see her country rid of the rot that plagues it: both Parijatdvipa’s poisonous rule, and the blooming sickness that is slowly spreading through all living things. But she doesn’t yet understand the truth of the magic she carries.
Their chosen paths once pulled them apart. But Malini and Priya’s souls remain as entwined as their destinies. And they soon realize that coming together is the only way to save their kingdom from those who would rather see it burn—even if it will cost them.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!
While Priya is saving her countrymen from the rot and driving away enemies from the borders, Empress Malini is on the road meeting allies and conquering lands. Priya’s power is growing with each moment now that she’s a thrice-born priestess. Her abilities would aid Malini greatly in her campaign against Chandra. Leaving home was hard but Malini needs her. In the romance aspect, things are hard for Priya and Malini. However, both of them are trying their best in making sure that the war is won and that victory is Malini’s.
Emperor Chandra wants Malini to burn. Believing that he is the chosen one, Chandra makes alliances and plans that will deter Malini from conquering all lands. His belief is cemented by his faith. Faith that he, not his sister, is the god chosen.
With Bhumika, she’s trying to solve the issues of their land one by one. However, tensions run high when people think that she isn’t doing as much as she can. Her council wants more people to be twice or thrice born, but Bhumika and Priya who have been through are worried about how many would survive the waters. Another issue is arising for Bhumika: the yaksa is back in Ahiranya, wearing the faces of friends and family they know. What are these immortal beings plotting? Why is the rot worsening?
The romances within The Oleander Sword were tender yet brutal whether it’s required or not. Nobody is saved from harm, especially in battles and wars. Each person has their duty and their faith will propel their actions. Even amid war, there were really sweet moments but it never lasts.
Other than the main characters’ perspectives, Tasha Suri sprinkled in short chapters written from the viewpoints of other characters working in different camps. All these chapters provided a clearer understanding of what others are thinking, who they’re supporting, and what’s the general outlook in Bhumika’s temple, Priya’s mindset, Malini’s journey, and Chandra’s delusion.
Faith is important in the world of the trilogy, and it showed in The Oleander Sword. The plans that were made were highly dependent on people’s belief in faith. It might be about the undying flame of the mothers or the nameless gods. Everything is linked to that.
Tasha Suri created a compelling story that definitely didn’t take my feelings into account. I couldn’t stop reading despite the book being pretty heavy on war and politics. I actually enjoyed watching the story unfold while not having any inkling of what was to come. Each person has their own purpose and were unflinching in accomplishing their end goal.
Magic demands sacrifice. To what length will the characters go to achieve their end goal? Will love be enough or will love ask for more? A greater war is brewing and the characters need to ready themselves.