Upon a Burning Throne (Burnt Empire Saga, #1)
From international sensation Ashok K. Banker, pioneer of the fantasy genre in India, comes the first book in a ground-breaking, epic fantasy series inspired by the ancient Indian classic, The Mahabharata In a world where demigods and demons walk among mortals, the Emperor of the vast Burnt Empire has died, leaving a turbulent realm without an emperor. Two young princes, Adri and Shvate, are in line to rule, but birthright does not guarantee inheritance: For any successor must sit upon the legendary Burning Throne and pass The Test of Fire. Imbued with dark sorceries, the throne is a crucible—one that incinerates the unworthy.   Adri and Shvate pass The Test and are declared heirs to the empire… but there is another with a claim to power, another who also survives: a girl from an outlying kingdom. When this girl, whose father is the powerful demonlord Jarsun, is denied her claim by the interim leaders, Jarsun declares war, vowing to tear the Burnt Empire apart—leaving the young princes Adri and Shvate to rule a shattered realm embroiled in rebellion and chaos....     Welcome to the Burnt Empire Saga  

Upon a Burning Throne (Burnt Empire Saga, #1) Details

TitleUpon a Burning Throne (Burnt Empire Saga, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 16th, 2019
PublisherJohn Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-139781328916280
Rating
GenreFantasy, Young Adult

Upon a Burning Throne (Burnt Empire Saga, #1) Review

  • Natalie Monroe
    January 1, 1970
    Pitched as "Indian Game of Thrones."
  • Cassie James
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of this book and it doesn't in any way influence my opinion on it. I will start this review by thanking Ashok Banker for fighting to get this book out in the world. This book is not just a book you read, It's a book that you digest, ruminate over and enjoy thoroughly. Those new to his writing like I am will be so intrigued by the intricate attention to detail and perfect melding of so many plots and characters. Also big thank you to John Joseph Adams for realizing how special I received an ARC of this book and it doesn't in any way influence my opinion on it. I will start this review by thanking Ashok Banker for fighting to get this book out in the world. This book is not just a book you read, It's a book that you digest, ruminate over and enjoy thoroughly. Those new to his writing like I am will be so intrigued by the intricate attention to detail and perfect melding of so many plots and characters. Also big thank you to John Joseph Adams for realizing how special this book is.Upon A Burning Throne is a long and lovely book and I finished it in a day and a half. To the annoyance of my family I hardly put this book down and ignored some bodily functions because I just had to read what comes next.Upon A Burning Throne chronicles (yes that particular word) the Krushan Family the rulers of the Burnt Empire. The world Ashok has built is a very vast, rich and lush civilization with many cultures, norms and ways of life which are not skimmed over but aptly detailed and explained. Each page of this book evokes emotions, I had gone through a maelstrom of feelings by the time I was done with this book (Most good though that ending....... JAWDROPPING!).The Burnt Empire is ruled by the Krushans who are made up of Jilana the Dowager Empress, Vrath the Prince Regent (Who is a badass demigod and devout man), along with the pregnant Princess daughters-in-law of Jilana, Ember and Umber.The two children of these women are to be the new heirs to the throne. Any child born of the Royal family meant to be heir has to for through a magical trial after birth to prove his/her legitimacy to the right of the throne.This time not only does the two boys get chosen as heirs but there's also a third child chosen who is born from and exiled dangerous member of the Royal family. The two boys are each born with what the Burnt Empire sees as disabilities, Adri the elder is blind and Shvate the younger is an albino who is very sensitive to sunlight.These events will lead to a shift in the fabric of the world.The heirs will have to prove they're capable of ruling the Burnt Empire and shouldering the large responsibilities that come with it while dealing with their own issues, supernatural forces of darkness and familial problems. All the while the gods manipulate the mortals and make the world their giant chessboard.The story isn't just isolated to these characters, there is a vast pool of characters with various interesting storylines that intersect to form one big brilliant astonishing web. This book can aptly be compared to Game of Thrones in it's scope and deviousness of it's villains and yes it's also quite bloody at times.There are so many aspects of this book I love, here are some highlights:-The women. There is an abundance of amazing, badass and strong women in this series. Even matriarchal kingdoms. Princesses are warriors and battle strategists, they slay in battle and rule as mothers. The main female characters are complex and are also as much important to the grand scheme of things although at times their role is mostly facilitating certain things into certain places for future purposes.-The Writing. It's so vividly detailed I easily picture every single scene perfectly. -The magic/gods/chosen ones/nasty powerful enemy, I love the way it all plays out like an epic tale.-That beautiful resplendent cover!!!-The culture of the Krushans/their law. They're so honourable although they sure love their battles.-The Foreshadowing, oh yes many things are heavily teased and they're so well executed the anticipation is sweet.-The fact that the main characters overcome what things that should hinder their life and burn brightly.-The Indian culture this book is inspired by.There's many more things I loved that I can't even remember but I assure you that everything about this book will implore you to love it.Warning though, this is not a happy book, It will draw you in, chew you, devour you and spit you out regardless of your feelings and you will be ready to do it all over again. This book is a nice way to start this year as it reminds me why I love books.The passion and imagination of the author is so obvious in many scenes, the battles, cultures, mythical beings and descriptions. I could go on gushing about this book but not do it justice so I'll begin to close my review by saying Upon A Burning Throne is a book you'll see characters grow, learn, make mistakes, fight, give birth to their own children thus setting prophecies in motion and through it all you will love every single thing.So many things happen that I can't cover but it's all on an epic scale fantasy lovers will adore and as an avid fantasy fan, I happily recommend this book.I can't wait for the next book because that cliffhanger ending has got me in my feelings.
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  • Leah Rachel von Essen
    January 1, 1970
    The Mahabharata is an epic of epics. It is incredibly long. While the Ramayana is a story of the golden age, the Mahabharata is meant to be about the transition to the modern age of confusion. In this epic, warriors and kings are no longer sure of their moral duties. As a made-up example, you face your brother, who wronged your wife, in war. You are obligated to your wife to kill him; but you are obligated not to kill your brother; but you are obligated by the rules of battle to kill the enemy. The Mahabharata is an epic of epics. It is incredibly long. While the Ramayana is a story of the golden age, the Mahabharata is meant to be about the transition to the modern age of confusion. In this epic, warriors and kings are no longer sure of their moral duties. As a made-up example, you face your brother, who wronged your wife, in war. You are obligated to your wife to kill him; but you are obligated not to kill your brother; but you are obligated by the rules of battle to kill the enemy. The epic asks us difficult questions. Honest men must lie. Good men must be tricked. The age of a simple binary between heroes and villains is over.I was thrilled by the prospect of an epic fantasy grounded in the Mahabharata, which is why I’m so crushed to be disappointed by Upon a Burning Throne, a fantasy epic series that promised to lay its roots in the epic. Epics are occasionally repetitive and always long, and the Mahabharata I knew would be heavy, large, and violent; but Ashok K. Banker’s novel did not have to as long as it is: his writing is scattered, and he spreads stories that are compact in the original epic very, very thin. I found myself skimming in its 669 pages often.I am also struggling with some of the novel’s choices. First, his decisions around his Krishna-like figure (capable of both great violence and wisdom). Banker frames him as a clear and inarguable villain and demon who commits disgusting atrocities and is directly responsible for the early twists of the epic. In the original, these occurrences and twists are signs of changing times, of hazy successions and dubious moral debates. Now, that confusion enters the binary: human or demon, good or evil. Banker also pours most of his new magic into the horrifying atrocities (one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve read in fantasy) of the demon. Despite the rich source material of nagas and gods, Banker’s only other main fantastic trope is in the prologue: the royal family is crowned by and impervious to fire, yet somehow this ceases to be important for the rest of the book.Banker also introduces a ton of fatphobia into the text, and somewhat reduces, in my opinion, some of my favorite mythic women, even after introducing more female warriors (’Bhima’ is female, and Karni a complex character, and those were the only two changes I liked in his retelling). He exaggerates Adri’s blindness and Pandu’s albinism—they’re there in the myth, and threats to their legitimacy as kings; but in Banker’s novel, they are presented as crippled. Particularly Adri has many emotionally humiliating moments, and is portrayed as weak and unwilling to rule, which disturbed me. I also found Banker’s adaptive execution confusing and inconsistent. Karna’s mother Kunthi is renamed Karni in the novel, which is heavily confusing—similarly, Shiva becomes Shima—all while other characters just keep their names (Pandu).This read, if I’m honest, was immensely disappointing. From an epic based in source material rich with strong women (Draupadi! Kunthi!) and complicated heroes, it underdelivered. I hope someone is able to execute this differently at some point in the future. Or even, I hope that I am the minority in opinions about this book. People less familiar with the Mahabharata may love this, or those who know it may have a different opinion than I do. I sort of hope they do. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I studied the Mahabharata extensively in college, but will not pretend to be an expert. These opinions are my own from my own knowledge of the epic as it stands in English translation.
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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @20%. Upon the Burning Throne opens up with the most dull, long-winded, derivative prologue I've read in recent memory, and that kind of set the tone for the next couple of hundred pages. One dimensional characters, prose that's riddled with info-dumps and lists (good lord, so many lists *clutches head*), and is, apparently, a terrible retelling (of The Mahabharata) to boot. At least the cover is pretty. ~Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.
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  • Fanna
    January 1, 1970
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  • Anya
    January 1, 1970
    Well this was another big tome that I had high hopes for this year. Unfortunately it was just okay. It felt like it dragged on a bit and with the hundreds of different kingdoms it was quite confusing at first. I didn't really connect with the princes and had high hopes for the girl contender of the throne to make her appearance, which she didn't. I'd assume that this is going to happen in the next installment, but at this point I am not sure if I am going to continue with this series.The battles Well this was another big tome that I had high hopes for this year. Unfortunately it was just okay. It felt like it dragged on a bit and with the hundreds of different kingdoms it was quite confusing at first. I didn't really connect with the princes and had high hopes for the girl contender of the throne to make her appearance, which she didn't. I'd assume that this is going to happen in the next installment, but at this point I am not sure if I am going to continue with this series.The battles were written great, but quite gory and brutal, hence the GOT reference?Thank you Netgalley for providing me with an eARC.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    I got lost in the plot and characters of this book. While the idea of an epic fantasy with an Indian backdrop appealed to me, the reality of it was a bit to confusing and detailed for me. Those who are looking for an intense, detail oriented, game of thrones like book would enjoy this work. I just wasn't the right audience for this book. ** I received a copy of this from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    Indian sibling game of thrones I love?
  • Courtney
    January 1, 1970
    I had one major concern as I read this book even though I absolutely loved it and was so involved in the world and lives of the Krushan. I felt the passage of time was not readily shown. For example, the night of the eclipse and the attack on Hastinaga, it wasn't until long into the battle and switching many perspectives that it was clear this took place years after the battle at Reygar. This happened repeatedly where I was asking the question, "How much time has passed?"Reading other's reviews, I had one major concern as I read this book even though I absolutely loved it and was so involved in the world and lives of the Krushan. I felt the passage of time was not readily shown. For example, the night of the eclipse and the attack on Hastinaga, it wasn't until long into the battle and switching many perspectives that it was clear this took place years after the battle at Reygar. This happened repeatedly where I was asking the question, "How much time has passed?"Reading other's reviews, it seemed some people were confused by the succession and relations between the families and the gods, but I didn't find this difficult at all. I've read 'complex' books before and so, none of this was hard for me to follow. In fact, it is one of the things I like most about this book. It is a complex and exciting world with carnal, unique magic, unlike western fantasies. It helped maybe a little that I have begun to study some of the mythology Banker's books are based on, but honestly my knowledge is limited, so I don't believe this gave me a great advantage to understanding the world. I feel Banker guided the reader more than he did in "Prince of Ayodhya" and made it very accessible to a western audience. I know many people who love to dive into a fantasy world and become consumed by it who will love this book.
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  • Sageleafpark
    January 1, 1970
    2.25/5 stars.DNF at 267, though I may pick it up again at some point. This book had a lot of potential but it was just so plotty and all of the characters lacked any substance. I thought the prologue was really cool and I was excited to see Adri and Shvate compete with Jarsun’s daughter, but she literally never was mentioned again (even in Jarsun’s chapters). I also really hated the way literally all of the female characters were treated. All of them were objectified in some way or another and t 2.25/5 stars.DNF at 267, though I may pick it up again at some point. This book had a lot of potential but it was just so plotty and all of the characters lacked any substance. I thought the prologue was really cool and I was excited to see Adri and Shvate compete with Jarsun’s daughter, but she literally never was mentioned again (even in Jarsun’s chapters). I also really hated the way literally all of the female characters were treated. All of them were objectified in some way or another and the only one we really get to know (at least up until where I got to) was forced to be a servant for like her whole chapter and then gave up on her life and future to have some god’s kid. Banker makes a point of stating how hot and how sexy every single woman is as part of her “introduction”. There were cool things, like the world building and the mythology, but I’m a character-based reader and this book is 100% plot.
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  • Gabrielle Schuffert
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book for free from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.When it comes to world building, Ashok K. Banker has done a great job in his new novel Once Upon A Burning Throne but overall the book was a miss for me. There was a huge cast of characters to wade through and even the list at the beginning of the book grew frustrating as I continuously flipped back and forth on my tablet. The chapters were short and switched narrator each time so it never I received this book for free from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.When it comes to world building, Ashok K. Banker has done a great job in his new novel Once Upon A Burning Throne but overall the book was a miss for me. There was a huge cast of characters to wade through and even the list at the beginning of the book grew frustrating as I continuously flipped back and forth on my tablet. The chapters were short and switched narrator each time so it never felt like i could invest in one person's story or point of view which led me to become disengaged from them. The world was rich with description but felt lacking in anything actually happening (how long could we describe Adri's feelings about being in the jungle?). Long winded speeches by characters that wouldn't really happen in real life left me confused by the end about what point they were supposed to be making. Overall, for those who love to dive into the history of a fantasy novel and enjoy epics like the Odyssey with long winded speeches, this would be a good book but if couldn't hold my attention for more than a few minutes at a time and I skimmed most of the last half.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    DNF'd at 32%While I enjoy 3rd person narratives, in this case it felt much too distanced and I couldn't get engrossed enough to care about the characters. It's a shame, because the writing itself is beautifully done, unfortunately I just lost interest in the story.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Meh. Definitely not worth the page count. DNF, but got to page 500 before I realized I was only persevering for the sake of finishing. The parts from the children’s perspectives were the most interesting, but the patriarchy inherent in the succession of the kingdom was problematic. Mothers who can’t connect with children that are the product of sex that they didn’t want to have, and lots of magical god men... I didn’t like the queen saying that another woman was a whore, or the sex one prince ha Meh. Definitely not worth the page count. DNF, but got to page 500 before I realized I was only persevering for the sake of finishing. The parts from the children’s perspectives were the most interesting, but the patriarchy inherent in the succession of the kingdom was problematic. Mothers who can’t connect with children that are the product of sex that they didn’t want to have, and lots of magical god men... I didn’t like the queen saying that another woman was a whore, or the sex one prince had with the servant who even said “I COULDN’T SAY NO!”. Real romantic. The relationship the other prince has with his wives is better, but honestly I spent most of those 500 pages wondering where the girl cousin, born out of love, was. If the whole book was about which cousin would inherit the thrown, why was her father evil incarnate and her and her mother not mentioned at all, after their initial appearance in chapter one? I guess I will never know, because I’m the quitter who returned this to the library after only a 500 page investment.
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  • Madeline Noi
    January 1, 1970
    It wasn't until this moment - seeing other reviews (after reading the book) that I realized this was Indian fantasy and fiction. What is great about that is that I could relate to the some of the characters and it didn't feel like I was reading a "promote diversity" book, but rather an engaging tale of multidimensional characters and the fate of a kingdom. I definitely see the game of thrones reference, especially when it comes to the main evil guy (no spoilers). I will say as a con, the descrip It wasn't until this moment - seeing other reviews (after reading the book) that I realized this was Indian fantasy and fiction. What is great about that is that I could relate to the some of the characters and it didn't feel like I was reading a "promote diversity" book, but rather an engaging tale of multidimensional characters and the fate of a kingdom. I definitely see the game of thrones reference, especially when it comes to the main evil guy (no spoilers). I will say as a con, the description of the godliness and power was a bit repetitive at times. It seemed like every time certain characters entered a room/scene, there was a paragraph or two recount of how expansive and majestic their powers were. There wasn't as much world building as I think there is potential for, the world they have created is pretty simple. Hopefully the series will explore the lore of the burning throne itself more.
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  • Sahil Pradhan
    January 1, 1970
    From international sensation, Ashok K. Banker, pioneer of the fantasy genre in India, comes the first book in a ground-breaking, epic fantasy series inspired by the ancient Indian classic, The MahabharataIn a world where demigods and demons walk among mortals, the Emperor of the vast Burnt Empire has died, leaving a turbulent realm without a sovereign. Two young princes, Adri and Shvate, are in line to rule, but birthright does not guarantee inheritance: For any successor must sit upon the legen From international sensation, Ashok K. Banker, pioneer of the fantasy genre in India, comes the first book in a ground-breaking, epic fantasy series inspired by the ancient Indian classic, The MahabharataIn a world where demigods and demons walk among mortals, the Emperor of the vast Burnt Empire has died, leaving a turbulent realm without a sovereign. Two young princes, Adri and Shvate, are in line to rule, but birthright does not guarantee inheritance: For any successor must sit upon the legendary Burning Throne and pass The Test of Fire. Imbued with dark sorceries, the throne is a crucible — one that incinerates the unworthy.Adri and Shvate pass The Test and are declared heirs to the empire. But there is another with a claim to power, another who also survives: a girl from an outlying kingdom. When this girl, whose father is the powerful demonlord Jarsun, is denied her claim by the interim leaders, Jarsun declares war, vowing to tear the Burnt Empire apart — leaving the young princes Adri and Shvate to rule a shattered realm embroiled in rebellion and chaos…Why Ashok Banker can be called as the Gen-Y Vyasa?Krishna Dwaipayana Ved Vyasa or simply known as Vyasa worked and etched out his own epic, which may be based on his family line, for the people of his era, an era filled with people for whom meaning meant more than narration and imagery. But for a generation which awes at the sight of thrilling narration and “Bahubali” type graphics, Banker is the perfect storyteller for our generation.When you are through with this humongous doorstopper- that’s obvious that the US proof I got is the whole book of 800 pages, whereas the Indian edition is divided into two parts of 400 each- you feel right from the start the vibe and feel of the amalgamation of Bahubali, Game of Thrones and Mahabharata. While the genesis of the story lies in the story of Mahabharata, the setup and narration are just eerie, fraught and fearsome as Bahubali and Game of Thrones.While the Burning Throne of the Krushan empire burns down anyone who is found unworthy to rule, it gives immense power to the ruler who sits upon it. The tussle and fight of who would come “upon the burning throne”, is the narrative in the book. For when you read a Vyasa tale let it be Vyasa’s Ramayana too, you do not see him elaborating and imagining the whole tale making it longer, he is to the point like Banker is in his modern way, a to-the-point narration, short chapters yet a dense web of characters whose interplay forms the whole tale.Maybe thus with all right and glory, Banker deserves to be called as our generation’s epic storyteller, the one who pioneered fiction-mythology genre in India, one after whose footsteps others like Amish and Ashwin walked. It is veracity to call Banker as the “Gen-Y Vyasa.”A Garguatan WorldThe world of Arthaloka, where this story and the entire Burnt Empire series is set, is a single massive continent five times the size of all the land masses on our Earth put together, a kind of Pangea super-continent. (It doesn’t stay that way over the course of the series, but that’s another story for a much later discussion.) Everything on Arthaloka is gargantuan. Mount Coldheart is several times the height of our Mount Everest; nobody in that world knows or cares precisely how high. Because Arthaloka is a single super-continent, parts of it have entirely different climates and ecologies.The only thing that unites them all is the living river, Jeel, which feeds the entire world. Jeel is inspired by the Ganges, or Ganga as we call her in India, but she is much, much bigger. And because Upon a Burning Throne and this short story are set in a much earlier age, the land and water are pristine, as perfect as can be. She’s also a living goddess and can take living forms, as this story shows us.Just a note for Western Readers, who may feel odd in relating the book: Even though the Burnt Empire series is set in a fictional world, it draws inspiration from India, the Middle East and Asia in general. The language spoken isn’t Sanskrit but it’s closer to Sanskrit and Arabic than any other world languages.Humanization is the answerExpect riveting storylines and subplots from Upon A Burning Throne, it is Banker’s mastery of vocabulary and of the celestial language and narration that keeps audiences enraptured. Detailed descriptions of battle and violence, while a natural aspect of this horror-oriented tale, are not for the faint of heart though.Ashok K. Banker has been appreciated for his gripping and racy style of writing. Each of his novels holds on to the reader’s attention given the steady pace of his novels and the way he merges the real world with fantasy. Readers find the characters relatable because while telling the stories of God, he humanizes them in the most relevant way. His in-depth research on every character – essentially the gods and goddesses we revere – and the plots show in his every piece of work. He oscillates between ostentatious language and simple presentation making his books attractive to read. His narration is balanced and realistic with subtle social commentary.But it is not Gods and Goddesses that play in the plot this time, this time it is something kind of an Indian Game of Thrones party playing and dazzling in the plot. The story is set in a fictional universe and civilization, but if you are a keen observer and reader of Mahabharata, you can see the similarities, moreover if you are one who loved Shashi Tharoor’s modern rendering of Mahabharata, in his book “Great Indian Novel”, you are destined to love this book too.Deviation and BeautificationAs the title suggests, Banker’s newest offering uses the core myths around the Hindu epic Mahabharata to weave a fictional narrative. The story of the characters in the Burning Throne story is a tough one because they are not “straightforward” good and evil-like many others in the Pauranic pantheon. There are different versions of their story found in the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Puranas, among other texts.Many of these traits were carried forward in the Pauranic myths of the goods and evils, and are also faithfully represented in Banker’s version. However, the author deviates in several ways from the central myths, and this is what makes it “fiction”. Some of these deviations are clever and some seem unnecessary, but he manages to hold the narrative together through it all. It would be useful to recount the most popular versions of the core myths, in order to compare the points of difference.Fanciful inventions and stomach-churning scenesIn fact, Banker dwells upon this dynamic so much that the supremely divine couple is reduced to an annoying duo next door. But this is just an example of his overarching need to humanize both gods and asuras in his stories. In doing so, Banker liberally alters the “classical fates” of these characters.With fanciful inventions like these, the author tries to make his characters more relatable. While the result is sometimes effective, it also disappoints. Perhaps readers want their heroes and villains to be larger than life and not petty squabblers?That’s not to say Banker cannot write “big”. He is particularly skilled in painting stomach-churning pictures of violence and war, bordering on the crass. Perhaps that is intended, for murders by ghouls and goblins must sound different from man-made deaths in his books.The strength of the charactersThe characters of the book are an interesting bunch too. Be it the charismatic, suave and charming Shvate or his knowledgeable and revered Jeel, be it the beautiful and courageous Jilana or the evil Jarsun, be it the all-knowing and highly accomplished human-god Vrath or the diabolical Adri – all the characters are well developed and will leave a lasting impression on the minds of the reader. There is an abundance of amazing, badass and strong women in this series. Even matriarchal kingdoms. Princesses are warriors and battle strategists, they slay in battle and rule as mothers. The main female characters are complex and are also as much important to the grand scheme of things although at times their role is mostly facilitating certain things into certain places for future purposes.If I have to compare Banker’s writing to other more popular authors in this genre – I would say that he is a combination of Dan Brown and Vyasa. I am just surprised by the fact that it took him so long to realize his passion and get into pure fiction writing (we surely were being denied of a very talented author all these years). The frequent change in place and timeline works wonders towards keeping the interest of the reader alive. The build-up, the storyline, the tease – all of it makes the book an absolute page-turner and an un-put-down-able read.Entertainment and a Thrilling plotThe beauty of Banker’s writing lies in his intricately designed plots and diverse characters. This is quite visible in Upon a Burning Throne as well. The frequent change in the locations of the narratives makes the book all the more exciting and compelling.In my opinion, the jaw-dropping introduction of each new plot and character was the best part of the book. Every single chapter created intrigue and each character was brought about as an unraveled mystery.The entertainment factor of the book is spot on. Throughout the course of the book, there is always an excitement to get to the next page. The fact that Banker ends most of the chapters with sentences like below makes the book even more exciting.“What he saw froze him to death…”“His heart told him it was over.”“…Then he gasped when he realized who it was.”These sentences are meant to make sure that the reader’s interest does not waver and I must say that’s a fantastic way to keep the fire alive. Considering everything that I have mentioned so far, the book is an absolute winner when it comes to entertainment quotient.What I absolutely loved in this book is its strong plot. If there is one thing that appears to have taken a good amount of effort and thinking, it is the plot. The overall effect is pure entertainment. In very simple terms, there is never a dull moment in the book. Not for one tiny second it loses its pace or assumes monotony. For this, I would definitely like to congratulate the author.Powerful narration and amazing imaginationIn his remarkable speech at the burial of Julius Caesar, Marc Antony starts by criticizing Caesar and praising Brutus, but from the first word itself, it is loaded with political shrewdness. Ashok Banker is a brilliant writer. In a country where English proficiency is equated with brilliance, he often dazzles the middle-class Indians with his esoteric English wordplay. However, possession of a good thesaurus and nimble fingers for tweeting are of not much help in navigating the complex jungle of Indian politics, where ruthless beasts of greater shrewdness roam around. It seems Neelkantan has decided to use his skills in writing to carve out space for himself in this teeming wilderness and perhaps become the lion king one day.One must bow down before Banker for his prowess in the powerful narration. the best part of the book is its beauty in the emotions generated by the chapters and the gripping narrative. I felt that the beauty of the language and simple yet lucid vocabulary of Banker makes the book, truly a “masterpiece”. one cannot put down the book if you have started once. although the book is of 700 pages, you would at least twenty days if you are a fast reader- for completing the book, for you are sometimes left boggled by some intense scenes.For the narration, it is just mind-boggling. the way he captures each character and emotions in his pen would leave you enthralled. you while reading the book go through a lot of fight scenes, and neelkantan explains each as a fight master. you would go mad by the intense and riveting fights and dialogues. the characters are such well bound with the reader that you live through them throughout the book. there is not even a single dull moment in the book, that you can point out.The Tale of Power and Dharma told with the best language“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster . . . when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you”― Friedrich NietzscheAshok Banker is a thesaurus of traditional mythology. His latest novel UABT is an engaging handbook on a character of Indian Mythology which is somewhat least popular. His dedication to writing about someone whose journey is unknown to the masses speaks volume. Amalgamating fiction with mythology and rendering the novel a modern look, the author has done an applauding work. He has offered both sacred stories in the form of short incidences and an intriguing perspective of various characters.One of the aspects that would come to attention while reading this book is its language. it’s a double sided sword that can cut sharp into the readers. I found two aspects with the language. At one side each line is coiled and lengthy carrying heavy details and meaning. On the other hand, it is a beauty in words. some of the lines have actually swooned worthy with its poetic quality. The language is art for this book. It is a bit difficult but beautiful at the same time. For me personally, I absolutely loved the language. It made all the difference for me in the bookThe other important aspect was the treatment of the plot. It definitely wasn’t a child’s play and I absolutely adore the boldness and the creative risk, the author had taken especially considering how sensitive and vulnerable religious aesthetics run in India. I am pretty sure that there would be at least a small group of readers who would have their eyes bulging at the way the narration movies. That is why I felt the book was amazing because the narration and the way the author decided to narrate the popular mythology is super impressive nevertheless a really bold step.The Last AppraisalA dense web of characters unfolds the deceit that permeates every nook and alley of Hastinaga and the storytelling is tight and fraught with intrigue. Your interest never wanes. You worry for the headstrong Shvate and your heart crumbles like a soggy cookie over the plight of the stoic Adri. You loathe the sadistic Vrath and smile sadly for Jilana. A chill runs down your spine over the mechanizations of Jarsun and others and fear lodges in your throat as the noblemen of other parts vie for power through dastardly deeds. You get a giant knot in your throat over the plight of the poor and exploited in a land that claims to be just and generous to its subjects.Upon A Burning Throne is a tale told with masterful control over the narrative. The pace never slackens and the story is never offered up at the altar of world-building details Upon A Burning Throne is undoubtedly a compelling read – it is one of those “on-the-edge-of-your-seat” novels which keeps the reader hooked on right till the end. I would, therefore, recommend it to all lovers of fiction.This is an unbiased review of the US edition of the book sent to me by the publishers. The book is set to be released on April 16, 2019.
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    Upon a Burning Throne starts out with potential.  It tells the story of the succession of a kingdom - two children born to the royal family.  One child is born blind, the other a child with albinism.  The nobility is at first aghast, for these are not "normal" children.  Nonetheless, the burning throne claims both children as heirs.  A third child, the daughter of an outcast brother of the regent, is presented.  The burning throne accepts her too, but the royal family doesn't, and her father swe Upon a Burning Throne starts out with potential.  It tells the story of the succession of a kingdom - two children born to the royal family.  One child is born blind, the other a child with albinism.  The nobility is at first aghast, for these are not "normal" children.  Nonetheless, the burning throne claims both children as heirs.  A third child, the daughter of an outcast brother of the regent, is presented.  The burning throne accepts her too, but the royal family doesn't, and her father swears revenge.The story sets itself to be a fight for the throne between the three children, but that's not what happens.  The little girl is never seen again, although her father causes some level of trouble.  Adri and Shvate grow up,  but are generally not hindered by their blindness or albinism, respectively.  In fact, there doesn't seem to be much point in attributing these things, save to illustrate the fact that the daughter would have been, by this society's values, a more apt choice for ruler.The rest of the tale ambles along.  There are random time jumps, and a lot of the events seem to take place off-screen, per se.  We find out many events by listening to characters be reminded after a period of amnesia, or by switching perspectives and having two different characters talk about it.  It's nearly 800 pages, but I'd say only 30% of that comprises actual action.I'd also like to talk about the treatment of female characters.  Banker builds up exciting characters in Karni and Mayla, strong women with a fighting spirit and intelligence.  Then he reduces them both to babymaking machines.  The mothers of demigods, maybe, but suited to be mothers only.  Even Jilana, who helps rule as co-regent, is reduced to a bumbling, illogical mess when it comes to the safety of her grandsons.  It's just... disappointing.  A step in the wrong direction for modernity.Between the disappointment of the characters, the fantastic setup that went nowhere, and the disjointed jumping around, I didn't care for this novel.  It bills itself as an Indian Game of Thrones, and it very well could have gone that way, but there were too many people who didn't want the throne alongside characters being shoved in stereotypical social roles... at the end of nearly an 800 page book, I felt like nothing had happened and I didn't care what would happen next.
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  • Becky B
    January 1, 1970
    How do you summarize almost 700 pages without thoroughly confusing people? Ok, so there’s a huge empire that is made up of many smaller kingdoms that pay liege to on ruling family, the only family that can sit on the ever-burning throne and survive. As our story begins there is not just one, not two, but three infants who are sat on the throne to see if they will one day rule. To everyone’s consternation all three survive the flames. But the two boys each have a defect, Adri is blind and Shvate How do you summarize almost 700 pages without thoroughly confusing people? Ok, so there’s a huge empire that is made up of many smaller kingdoms that pay liege to on ruling family, the only family that can sit on the ever-burning throne and survive. As our story begins there is not just one, not two, but three infants who are sat on the throne to see if they will one day rule. To everyone’s consternation all three survive the flames. But the two boys each have a defect, Adri is blind and Shvate is albino (which is a hardship in a tropical country). The third is a girl fathered by a man/demon, Jarsun, who has been banned by the family for his evil practices. The rest of the book watches the two boys grow and become men, start families of their own (thus deepening the question of inheritance) occasionally fending off attacks from the evil guy. There are many gods, demigods, and humans who all are trying to direct the future of who will rule the empire.When the book set out I really thought it was going to focus on the three kids who sat on the throne and them squabbling over the throne, but the girl never ever reappears. Maybe she’s coming in the next book? I found it a bit frustrating that she was so pivotal in the intro and then disappeared for hundreds and hundreds of pages. At times, I felt like this book could stand to lose a hundred or so of those pages (the page #s of the publication actually have dropped by 80ish pages since I got the ARC so it seems someone else agreed). There were several rehashes of past events (which felt like something you’d write at the beginning of a new book in a series) that weren’t necessary in a single volume. That would have been my first guess of what got cut. The other would be to pare down some of the fight scenes. There’s one battle that takes up almost 100 pages all by itself. And some of the fight sequences are rather imaginatively gory and disturbing. (Banker should totally try his hand at horror if he hasn’t already. He’s obviously got what it takes to write some seriously disturbing stuff. I have a strong stomach and used to teach AP Bio and Human Anatomy, but some of the stuff he dreamed up made me feel squeamish. I can see imaginative horror fans really liking his stuff.) My last guess would have been to make the family drama in the last third of the book a bit more concise. There’s all this fighting and excitement in the first 2/3 and then the last 1/3 Jarsun decides to use family discord and seeds of mistrust to drive the family apart. It gets a little slow compared to the excitement of the earlier sections. I admire the grand scope and all of the characters that Banker can keep straight and write with their own characteristics and voices. The world also has interesting rules (or lack of rules) what with all the gods, demigods, and supernatural forces around. It is very imaginative. It has a definite Indian flavoring, which I liked, but also feels entirely its own in a way that’s hard to describe. Overall, I'd give this 2.5 stars personally (rounded up to 3 stars). I feel like I admire the writing and the imagination and the world building skills. I feel like I wanted a bit more to the plot, personally. And I think that’s my own fault with the expectations I built from the introduction. I was pretty miffed to not see the other burning throne sitting girl ever again. And you have to be pretty patient with the machinations of beings that aren’t entirely mortal and can plot in decades and centuries instead of months and years. It is a patient and lengthy ongoing battle and you’ve got to enter into this ready for that. Recommended for really epic fantasy fans who like an Indian flavoring to their fantasy, and those who like family sagas and ages-long battles between various forces.Notes on content [Based on the ARC]: A small handful of minor swearwords. The first 2/3 of the book talk use almost clinical or scriptural language to refer to sexual matters talked about. The last ~1/3 has one descriptive sex scene, another fade to black sex scene, and more frank discussions about sexual matters (as the sex lives of princes and the production of heirs are discussed by others in court). There is LOT of violence. There are numerous battles, and each of them gets many pages of descriptive details of the violence. Brutal deaths and horrific descriptions of deaths and fantasy violence that’s disturbing are frequent. (As mentioned above, many of these cross into horror fantasy.) Several of the battles are many, many pages long. There are characters who smoke a narcotic, and other characters who drink to the point of drunkenness (this results in some severe repercussions, though). I received an ARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Joe Crowe
    January 1, 1970
    I feel like I've learned things in reading this one; it's an epic fantasy inspired by The Mahabharata, one of the two epics of ancient India that form the Indian Itihasa. I didn't know anything about any of that, and now I know a lot more about it, and I'm curious to learn more. This has deities and demigods and intrigue and bombastic drama. It's good stuff.My early review copy did not have a map of the realms described herein, but it did promise one, so that earns bonus points with me. It shows I feel like I've learned things in reading this one; it's an epic fantasy inspired by The Mahabharata, one of the two epics of ancient India that form the Indian Itihasa. I didn't know anything about any of that, and now I know a lot more about it, and I'm curious to learn more. This has deities and demigods and intrigue and bombastic drama. It's good stuff.My early review copy did not have a map of the realms described herein, but it did promise one, so that earns bonus points with me. It shows that the author is focused on details to an agonizing extent. I mean that as a compliment. (Review from an advance copy.)
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  • Jacob Collier
    January 1, 1970
    This is a life changing book that I have read after a long time. You can buy this and many other bestsellers at great discounts from here: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks...
  • Joy
    January 1, 1970
    It’s exciting to see a global look at genres that we think we know. This is an epic fantasy of a scope that a Western audience may have difficulty grasping. I feel like my very, very limited knowledge of the Mahabharata is just enough for me to know that I don’t know enough. Regardless, the book is a luscious combination of mythic forces, heros, villains, warriors, quests, and other elements that keep us moving through the many (many!) pages. A promising start to a new series.
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  • Annarella
    January 1, 1970
    I was fascinated by this book inspired by the Mahabharata.I think it's complex, with tons of characters and an amazing world building.It's not an easy read but it's entertaining and enjoyable.I look forward to reading the next installment.Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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  • Elise
    January 1, 1970
    I wanted more from this book than I got. It felt like it was trying to do the kind of sprawling epic narrative, but the writing was...not great, the villain was distressingly flat, and overall I feel like this was kind of a poor man's The Grace of Kings. Ken Liu did this kind of "playing with narrative form of fantasy" in that book and did it better. I don't want to be harsh on this book because I'm always here for more fantasy inspired by settings other than Europe, and the framework of this on I wanted more from this book than I got. It felt like it was trying to do the kind of sprawling epic narrative, but the writing was...not great, the villain was distressingly flat, and overall I feel like this was kind of a poor man's The Grace of Kings. Ken Liu did this kind of "playing with narrative form of fantasy" in that book and did it better. I don't want to be harsh on this book because I'm always here for more fantasy inspired by settings other than Europe, and the framework of this one - again, sort of like an epic or interconnected saga more than a single novel - was really interesting, just...not done very well.
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  • Bentgaidin
    January 1, 1970
    Not so much finished as 'probably not going to go back and finish any time soon.' Decent enough, but just not grabbing me to make it worth the slog.
  • Lori Harris
    January 1, 1970
    For a while it was 3 stars, but up till the end it became 4. That ending I wasn't expecting. A lot happened in this book, but can't wait for the sequel!
  • Jana
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 4.5 stars. Review posted at Fantasy Literature.
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