Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin. Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides. But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.
I had seen this book around, and I knew it would be one that I would want to try eventually, but I wasn’t sure when that would be. But, I started seeing so much love for this book online, and the thought of a high fantasy featuring morally gray lesbians made this book one that I desperately wanted to read. Trigger warnings
This book reads like a flower blooming, something fresh and new emerging from the dirt. And it is scorched along the edges, smoke filled lungs and the heat of fire still acutely remembered.
This is a brilliant, spectacular book. One that left me in awe at how it as crafted and absolutely everything that this story did.
They way the world is set up made it seem so infinitely vast, yet so contained at the same time. The scope of the entire kingdom is shone, but it is not traveled across yet. There is so much to learn about the world, but hidden corners are tucked away. Politics that are manipulated with a whisper, and deception that takes the form of a smile and a perfected stance. Really, this world is expertly crafted. There is just so much there, and the way that Suri is able to tie so many threads together, and connect so many storylines, is amazing.
The characters were another big highlight for me. Most of them are edging on monstrous, waiting for the shove that pushes them off the seemingly inevitable cliff. I loved them all. There are many POVs, and I loved pretty much all of them. Everybody is fighting for something different, they all have different battles. The way they ache and yearn and feel, just, so much brilliance about it.
One thing I loved most about this book was the nature based body horror/nature based magic. I think I’m just a sucker for anything that is even remotely creepy nature like. And this book does creepy nature spectacularly. The whole magic system in this book as brilliant, the way it ties in with faith and fate, and how each character uses it differently.
This book also gets bloody, a lot. It doesn’t do it for shock value, though. There is violence in this world, and the characters have to face it.
And the writing, the writing was so, so fantastic. It made everything seem so vivid, to the settings, to the characters, to the emotions that seep through every single world. It is a beautifully written book, and even single lines carry an incredible amount of weight. Just, it was brilliant.
Overall, this was fantastic, fantastic book. It is the start of a high fantasy trilogy, a boy oh boy does it set up something amazing. It doesn’t feel like a set up book though! It has it’s own trials and growth and the characters have much to face. It’s an amazing book.