Book Review

The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri

Genre | Fantasy
Page #s | 512
Publishing Date | August 2022

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.


I’ll cut to the chase: I didn’t think The Oleander Sword lived up to its predecessor, The Jasmine Throne. That’s not to say it’s bad, but I do think it suffers from trying to do too much. Most appalling (in my book, at least), I found the romance between Malini and Priya incredibly lackluster. They are leaders of countries negotiating love and alliances, and that should be positively BOILING with tension. Is it possible to get insta-love vibes from an established relationship?

What does work in The Oleander Sword is watching Malini’s march toward dethroning her brother and claiming the empire for herself while we the readers slowly realize that her fight is slow potatoes compared to what’s coming. The yaksa and the rot are Suri’s best invention, and every time she made flowers ominous, I shuddered in delighted horror. I can’t wait to see what is coming in the third book.

I also continue to enjoy the themes of sacrifice that run through this series. Again and again, we’re asked to consider the point at which a sacrifice is no longer worth making, whether it’s obviously appalling (Chandra burning women alive to create living fire) or willing but dangerous (Priya pushing both her magic and her luck). There are no easy answers here, and I love that!

Although the humans felt a little lacking this time around, we did get a lot more from the deities who all seem to have their own plan for the empire. I am VERY excited to see more of that in the last book of The Burning Kingdoms trilogy.

Who Do I Recommend This Book To?

Although not my favorite, The Oleander Sword is still a must-read for anyone who enjoyed The Jasmine Throne!

Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!

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