Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker
Reviewed by Sam!
What I drank prior: it was one of my favorite nights. A night with my fabulous roommate. We killed 2.5 bottles of wine and/or champagne. I am one happy camper.
From international sensation Ashok K. Banker, pioneer of the fantasy genre in India, comes the first book in a ground-breaking, epic fantasy series inspired by the ancient Indian classic, The Mahabharata
In a world where demigods and demons walk among mortals, the Emperor of the vast Burnt Empire has died, leaving a turbulent realm without an emperor. Two young princes, Adri and Shvate, are in line to rule, but birthright does not guarantee inheritance: For any successor must sit upon the legendary Burning Throne and pass The Test of Fire. Imbued with dark sorceries, the throne is a crucible—one that incinerates the unworthy.
Adri and Shvate pass The Test and are declared heirs to the empire… but there is another with a claim to power, another who also survives: a girl from an outlying kingdom. When this girl, whose father is the powerful demonlord Jarsun, is denied her claim by the interim leaders, Jarsun declares war, vowing to tear the Burnt Empire apart—leaving the young princes Adri and Shvate to rule a shattered realm embroiled in rebellion and chaos….
Welcome to the Burnt Empire Saga
Drunk Overview: this is basically India’s GoT. I know it’s not the country’s version but it feels a lot like that but with Indian culture and folklore. We start the story with two heirs being “tested” to prove themselves as heirs. You would think these would be teens. You would be wrong. They are newborns. Like day old. We do know that one is blind and the other is albino and the sitting Empress is all “they can’t rule alone so let’s train them both and see who comes out better.” Like that’s work and would ever work. I hope you can see my side eye. Anyway it’s a story of the lives of those in this empire and their fight against a Demi-demon. Not god but demon. He is scary as shit.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: this book crept up on me. It’s been a long time since I’ve been physically angry at a book. Which is a good and bad feeling.
Characters: were gonna go bullets tonight folks:
- Vrath: the demigod. I want to like him but he feels so disingenuous to me. But how cna be be? Idk. His whole purpose is to protect my sons. Speaking of my sons
- Shvate: he’s the albino heir and is… just so great. He figures out what he loves and tries to grow from it. We also get to see him in his adult life sorta and I love the man he’s gonna be.
- Adri: my other son. He is blind but has figured out how to make way. His anxiety and self consciousness is so intoxicating. I know, how can bad things be intoxicating? They are to someone like me who feels them literally all the time. I love that while folks are ableist and overlook him he’s all “fuck you im awesome”
- Jiliana: the empress and grandmother to my sons… so she’s my mom? No she’s not my fuctional mom but shes my fictional sons’ grandmother. That makes no sense sam get your shit together. She’s pretty great. She’s a bad ass woman who came from nothing. NOTHING! AND! She genuinely loved the emperor. How rare is that?!?
- Karni: a woman we meet as an early teen who becomes Shvate’s wife. She is amazing.
There are more than a dozen other characters but while there are so many…. I know them all. I know who they are, where they come from, why they feel the way they feel… it’s amazing.
Plot: this was June of those stories that I never felt like anything was passing. This book is well over 600 pages and when it ended I was like “what the ACTUAL FUCK?!” I needed more immediately. I am so angry at the end of this book. Very upset. At no point was I exhausted with the length which is hard to do (in fiction, aye thank you 😉).
Writing Style: stunning. Absolutely stunning. Think Laini Taylor.
World Building: I don’t think I get the world yet but I’m not sure I’m supposed to. As far as I know it, India has a fuck ton of religions and a fuck ton of folk lore and we’re supposed to be confused and I loved it.
What to pair it with: this pairs with a gimlet. It’s tart and you can drink it all night but damn will it get you drunk and give you a wild hangover.
COMMENT DOWN BELOW: When and how do I get the next one?
Until next time, we remain forever drunkenly yours,