A Dark Queen Rises by Ashok K Banker (Burnt Empire Saga #2)
Reviewed by Sam!
What I drank prior: listen. Kickball is not a joke. I’ve had so much beer in the last few hours I can’t. I haven’t had this much beer since I was in my 20s.
Returning to Ashok K. Banker’s brilliant epic fantasy world of the Burnt Empire, A Dark Queen Rises features Aqreen and Krushita, a mother and daughter on a quest to protect the innocent and bring down tyrants.
Queen Aqreen of Aquila leaves her husband Jarsun and flees across the Red Desert. She is determined to keep her daughter from being used by Jarsun to stake his claim to the Burning Throne of Hastinaga, seat of the all-powerful Burnt Empire. But Jarsun is vengeful and can summon legions of demoniac forces at will. The Red Desert is vast, and the journey dangerous.
Aqreen and Krushita’s caravan of ten thousand wagons will take several years to reach the only safe harbor, the queendom of Reygar. Jarsun’s pursuit is relentless and his vengeance terrible, but hope shines from the growing powers of little Krushita herself, along with the four-armed, twin-bodied Vanjhani wagon train leader and their band of valiant desert militia. Fierce battles are in store.
There are other players in this great game of demigods and mortals, each pursuing their own agendas. The powerful seer-mage Vessa seeks to join Krushita’s talents with that of Drishya, an avatar destined to confront and kill Tyrak, Jarsun’s diabolical son-in-law. Ladislew the assassin aligns with Tyrak for her own reasons. All paths culminate in a feverish finale on the hot sands of Reygar, as father, mother, and daughter confront each other in one ultimate showdown.
Drunk Overview: this is the second book in this series which is game of thrones but in India with all the gods and lore in tow. It’s basically the story of the daughter of the evil guy, who is the sister of the twins who are the heirs of the burning throne. In book one she was shunned and Jarsun (evil guy and her dad) was not pleased. So this book starts with her and her mom fleeing the capital on a caravan back to mama’s hometown (literally a 7 year journey). There’s also Jarsun’s new protege, Tarak, who is a literal sociopath. And his rival V…haufueofjekda (cannot remember his name). So yes. Who are they and why do they matter? Read the book.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: I struggled a smidge with this because it’s so long but similar to the first one I knew that the book was leading somewhere and I was really satisfied with where it ended up. Was it happy? Absolutely not. Was it a full arc? Yes.
Characters: ok so there’s Krushita, Jarsun’s daughter. She can do magic like dad and boy is she powerful. There’s this one bit in a battle and you’re like mf what?? Then there’s her mom who is probably one of the bravest characters I’ve ever read. Literally like wtf. Ok then there’s Tarak, the literal sociopath. He’s the heir to this throne but his folks don’t want him to be because uh sociopath so he gets exiled. He goes to hang with Jarsun and he’s all “you’re the best and let me train you” and then like for real he’s a sociopath. Then there’s V-man who’s Tarak’s nemesis, and T literally can’t hurt V. How funny would it be if Ty’s name started it’s a D? Oops so ok, he’s pretty great. Lastly but not leastly there’s Jarsun who is literally the worst, but you get it? Like… the best villains are ones that you know aren’t doing it just cause they’re evil, ya know?
Plot: so like, these books, the plot is odd. You don’t really know at all where things are going until you. Do and you’re like FLOORD when it happens. Also similar to GoT, none of your faves are safe and I love that.
Writing Style: this series, or rather this book, plays with time in a fun way, which I love.
World Building: PLUS you’ve got all the lore that goes in to it. Are all the characters human? Abso-fuckin-lutely not. In fact one of my faves literally has two torsos, with two arms and two legs each and I fucking love it. They even go by they. FUCK I love this series
What to pair it with: this is a Long Island no doubt. Tastes real good but fucks you up real bad.
Rating: 4/5 (only cause the plot was a smidge slow int he middle.
Until next time, we remain forever drunkenly yours,