Book Review: The Oleander Sword


Tasha Suri

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 18th August 2022
spoilers? no

Goodreads

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.

Galley provided by publisher

The Oleander Sword is a book I have some mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it was classic Tasha Suri with lush prose, gorgeous worldbuilding, and a slowburning plotline. On the other hand, I did feel it suffered a little bit from second book syndrome.

In the interests of not spoiling anything let me just say, this book picks up not much after the end of the first book. Priya and Bhumika are in Ahiranya, having freed themselves from Parijatdvipa’s rule. Meanwhile, Malini makes her progress across the country to confront her brother.

It was a slow start to the book, let me begin with that. Really, the pace didn’t pick up for me until about a quarter through. It took me from the start of May to early July to read that first fifth of the book, that’s how slow we’re talking. Then I put the book down for about three weeks. This wasn’t because I didn’t like the book—of course I did, I gave it 4 stars—but, unlike The Jasmine Throne, this one didn’t grab me from the start.

When it did start to pick up, I found that I was more interested in Bhumika’s storyline than Priya and Malini’s. And I’ll give you one guess which was the more prominent one. Again, not to say I didn’t at least like Priya and Malini’s, but Bhumika’s seemed more urgent, more intriguing.

I think the issue comes down to pacing (and this is a slight issue I had with The Jasmine Throne too, towards the end). While Tasha Suri’s style works well for standalones, with the slowburning plot, tension ratcheting up towards a conclusion, I think it’s a little trickier to make work for series, especially second books of series. It felt like there should have been more urgency to the plot as a whole, which is probably why I found Bhumika’s storyline more interesting.

However, this being said, I think once it got going, and once the plot picked up, then I found myself fully engaged by the book. As I said, I managed the final three quarters of the book much quicker than the first quarter. And that ending? Makes me very excited for the final book, that’s all I’ll say.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Oleander Sword

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