ARC Review – The Oleander Sword

Hello, everyone! I’m excited to bring you my review of The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri. Today is this title’s book birthday! So, congrats to the author for completing the second installment in this stunning series.

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 Orbit Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I enjoyed the first book in this series quite a bit because of the lush world-building and memorable characters, but it had a plodding pace that made me feel as if every one of its 500+ pages was dragging by. I hoped that the sequel would do a bit more and move the story forward at a faster pace now that the groundwork was laid out in The Jasmine Throne. The Oleander Sword thankfully delivered in every way imaginable, and it had me so glued to the story that I finished the second half of the book in one sitting, which unfortunately necessitated an all-nighter that I’m now somewhat regretting. 🤣

One of the things I loved most about The Jasmine Throne was the beautiful world-building filled with fascinating magic and competing gods. The world felt old and storied, and the characters seemed like part of a much larger tapestry being weaved before my eyes. The Oleander Sword built on this by expanding the mythology of Ahiranya in ways I didn’t expect and also provided greater insight into the beliefs and magic of the other religions and people of the kingdom. The yaksa were major players in some surprising ways, and their power and intent was both awe-inspiring and frightening.

I enjoyed the plot of this one a lot because there was so much payoff to the buildup in the first book. It was clearly a middle book because all the pieces were being positioned for what will likely be a mind-blowing finale, but there was also a very distinct story of its own here, as well. It was filled with political conspiracy, meddlesome priests, and tons of battle strategy and warfare. This was a masterful example of how to wrangle a large number of POVs into a compelling narrative that never felt like it let up and kept me on edge until the end. I also loved the culmination of the standoff between Malini and Chandra because it highlighted Malini’s strengths, political cunning, and resourcefulness rather than simply the utilization of brute force. I’m not going to sugarcoat it… the ending left my mouth agape and my heart broken.

The strong personalities of the characters continued to shine in this installment. There were so many POVs, and each one felt unique and vitally important to the story. I enjoyed the dynamic between Malini and Priya much more in this book than I did the first. Their romance felt more real and visceral with their longing for each other oozing off the page. Most of the characters grappled with the theme of sacrifice in some way, especially sacrifice in the pursuit of power. They all approached it differently, and it was interesting to see the various ways the characters thought about the concept and how those viewpoints played a role in their actions. Additionally, this story once again provided excellent commentary on what it is like to be a woman in a patriarchal system and illustrated a variety of examples of strong women overcoming obstacles to achieve greatness in their own ways.

Overall, this was a fantastic installment in a captivating new fantasy series. If you enjoy high fantasy, this is a series that is not to be missed. It has everything a fan of fantasy could ask for, including excellent world-building, compelling characters, and exploration of fascinating and relevant themes. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

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