Stealing Thunder
Protecting her identity means life or death in this immersive epic fantasy inspired by the Mughal Empire. In a different life, under a different name, Razia Khan was raised to be the Crown Prince of Nizam, the most powerful kingdom in Daryastan. Born with the soul of a woman, she ran away at a young age to escape her father’s hatred and live life true to herself. Amongst the hijras of Bikampur, Razia finds sisterhood and discovers a new purpose in life. By day she’s one of her dera’s finest dancers, and by night its most profitable thief. But when her latest target leads her to cross paths with Arjun Agnivansha, Prince of Bikampur, it is she who has something stolen. An immediate connection with the prince changes Razia’s life forever, and she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous political war. The stakes are greater than any heist she’s ever performed. When the battle brings her face to face with her father, Razia has the chance to reclaim everything she lost…and save her prince.

Stealing Thunder Details

TitleStealing Thunder
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 12th, 2020
PublisherAce
Rating
GenreFantasy, LGBT, Romance, Fiction

Stealing Thunder Review

  • Miranda Reads
    January 1, 1970
    Another Booktube video - this time all about the Top 10 Books of 2020 (so far) . Now that you know this fabulous book made the list, check out the video to see the rest!3.75 stars How do you explain your soul to another person? How do you give them a glimpse of it? Let's start off by saying something that absolutely blew me away - this story has a trans princess but her transition isn't the focus of the story.Let me repeat this - her transition ISN'T the story.Over the years, Another Booktube video - this time all about the Top 10 Books of 2020 (so far) . Now that you know this fabulous book made the list, check out the video to see the rest!3.75 stars How do you explain your soul to another person? How do you give them a glimpse of it? Let's start off by saying something that absolutely blew me away - this story has a trans princess but her transition isn't the focus of the story.Let me repeat this - her transition ISN'T the story.Over the years, I have devoured all of the LGBTQ+ books I can. This was a subject that I sought out at my small local library ever since I was old enough to pick out my own middle-grade to YA books. Why? It was a new perspective. It was something that I didn't want to ask my family, the librarian and honestly I had questions that I didn't feel comfortable asking anyone in real life. I wanted to read about lives that were different from my own and learn from them.I wanted to understand (even just a little bit) what someone else experienced and the way I chose to do that when I was a young teen was by patrolling the stacks of YA books, reading the back of every new one solely in the hopes that it will be something LGBTQ+. I've watched the YA and other genres slowly go from including one (1) quirky gay tertiary character to a secondary character tragically dying young because of their identity to having a main character question themselves before slowly coming out to their family.But what I haven't read very often where the transition isn't the focus. Where the "coming out" isn't the end-all be-all of the book. What I mean is that I am overwhelmingly happy that there are now books (this one included) where the main character is already living their authentic selves AND STILL GOES ON ADVENTURES (with dragons!).And while I don't feel educated enough to comment on every trans and demi aspect of the book - I am happy that there are more books representing these identities. To me, this marks a wonderful transition in the literary world. The name made my ears burn as much from humiliation as it made my insides twist from fear. This book follows Razia - the former crown prince of the Nizam empire - as she lives her life as a hijra courtesan. A hijra is what their country calls people who are assigned male at birth but due to surgery and essential salts are able to live lives as a transfeminine woman.Her home (dera) is filled with others, who like herself, rent out their bodies - as a form of entertainment (both as the regular sort and as the under-the-sheets sort of entertainment). Razia sees this as a necessary evil for living her authentic lives. ...though I wondered if he knew how much I wanted to escape the dera. One day, Razia entertains the local prince...and he takes a liking to her. And while his patronage could be her ladder to climb out of the dera...the dangers begin mounting almost immediately.Razia is responsible for a series of increasingly brash thefts, revealing her true identity would mean instant death...and yet...as much as she should stay away, there's something about this prince that keeps drawing her in. There was no stopping it now. I had to tell him. So. As I said earlier - I am so happy that this book exists and Berkley is rolling it out with all the other fantasies for this year.Razia was a spunky main character and Arjun was a wonderfully handsome (and understanding prince). The two of them fit together so well - and I am so happy by their relationship.The setting was divine and despite not ever experiencing lands like the ones described, I was truly transported to them.I really couldn't get enough of the zahhaks (feathery dragons) - I really couldn't! Every time they came onto the page, I couldn't read the words fast enough.However, there were a few things that ended up affecting my overall rating. There was quite a few fantasy terms that did make getting into the book a bit difficult, but flipping back and forth from the glossary did help with that (though it interrupted the flow).But even with that, the pacing of the book felt a bit slow for about 3/4 of the book...though the last quarter definitely boosted it in my opinion. So much action and adventure - but it just took a while to get there.The other thing that threw me out of the book (and this is honestly a personal pet peeve) but most of the plot happened because Razia can't keep her mouth shut. Most of Razia's issues were self-made - aka - if she didn't let it slip every chapter that she was a former son of a king...then most of the plot disappears. Which is incredibly frustrating to me (as a reader).If she was truly scared to death of anyone finding out her former identity - why even tease them with the "I was a former prince" line. (I suppose if you want to get super technical, she lets it be known because she wanted the prestige for future clients...but at the same time...surely avoiding death is something to be prioritized over clients with deeper pockets?)The last thing that was a bit tiring during this book was how often Razia repeated herself. I think this was a major reason why the book felt slow to me in the beginning - she goes through pretty much the same explanation of her past and her life choices to just about every new person she meets and is constantly worrying over the same few things.And while the having-to-explain-to-everyone is something that undoubtedly she experienced (and many transwoman experience), by the fifth time she said her soul was a woman's and she could not deny it - I just really wished the author would just summarize it so we don't have to go through the whole explanation/reaction/more explanations (again).All that being said - I really did enjoy quite a bit of this book and it truly was a great debut novel. It was different, it was exciting and it was memorable.The author was so knowledgeable about the background and setting (after all, she did firsthand research for so many years and has spent equally long as a trans rights activist) that I truly am excited for more people to read this book.I absolutely cannot wait to see where this author's career goes next!A huge thank you to Berkley publishing and the author for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat @miranda.reads
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  • Noah
    January 1, 1970
    its been months since I said I wasn't gonna read this book and y'all still keep coming at me like anything you say is gonna change my mind. go outside. take a nap.
  • Tucker (TuckerTheReader)
    January 1, 1970
    Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest reviewDNF @ page 50Where to begin? Let me start by saying that I WON'T be discussing the trans and desi representations even though I have heard there are issues with them. I'm choosing not to comment on either of them because I am not trans and am not Desi and don't feel it is my place to comment on how those people should be represented. And because the issues I’ve heard about aren’t from sources I complete Many thanks to Berkley Publishing Group for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest reviewDNF @ page 50Where to begin? Let me start by saying that I WON'T be discussing the trans and desi representations even though I have heard there are issues with them. I'm choosing not to comment on either of them because I am not trans and am not Desi and don't feel it is my place to comment on how those people should be represented. And because the issues I’ve heard about aren’t from sources I completely trust. Also, I don't want to attract the trolls that seem to be lurking around reviews of this book.I aborted this book because it, simply put, boring. As I have said in other reviews, I struggle to read fantasy novels because they are always pretty chock full of jargon. Some more than others. There are generally three levels of jargon.1. Little to none2. Some - These types of books have jargon but generally use words that already exist and/or keep it to a minimum. (Narnia, Harry Potter, Divergent)3. This book - This book made up SO many made up words. It literally had a glossary in the back.... A FREAKING GLOSSARY. I understand when you need to make words for things that don't already exist... (like diseases or countries) but why make words for things that exists?For example, one of the words is (these quotes are taken from an ARC and are subject to change... etc. etc.) Subah - a provinceAnd there were so many definitions that they all got wrapped up in themselves. For example...Cela - A disciple of a guru living in a hijra deraWHY?!I'm not even kidding when I say that all this jargon was 99.99% of the reason I'm not finishing this. It was all so over the top.I think that if the author cut down just half of the jargon (because almost none of it is necessary), the book would be so much easier to read.Bottom Line:[insufficient data]| Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram
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  • Peter
    January 1, 1970
    I was in a cab to the Paris airport when my data plan ran out, so I picked up the manuscript for Stealing Thunder. I figured I’d give it 25 pages as a favor to the editor, then watch Marvel movies on the flight.The next thing I knew, we were landing in New York, and I was nearly finished with the book. I remember being resentful that it was too dark to read in the taxi home.I get asked to read a lot of manuscripts, and as a result it has become increasingly difficult to hold my interest. Stealin I was in a cab to the Paris airport when my data plan ran out, so I picked up the manuscript for Stealing Thunder. I figured I’d give it 25 pages as a favor to the editor, then watch Marvel movies on the flight.The next thing I knew, we were landing in New York, and I was nearly finished with the book. I remember being resentful that it was too dark to read in the taxi home.I get asked to read a lot of manuscripts, and as a result it has become increasingly difficult to hold my interest. Stealing Thunder was immersive from the very first page. Razia is everything you want in a protagonist. Having given up luxury and power as a crown prince to live life as a woman, the story begins with her in a hijra family with other transsexuals, working as a dancer, prostitute and thief in order to survive.But Razia isn’t one to let the world dictate who she is. Despite living in a culture that abuses and treats trans women as one of the lowest castes of society, she finds a way to have agency and impact, rising to power again not through the privilege of her birth, but by dint of her own intellect, skill, and strength of will.And I haven’t even mentioned the dragons.Her father’s empire is built on the strength of his aerial corps of zahhaks—great serpentine beasts with vibrantly feathered wings, each breed possessing a unique and terrible breath weapon. Stealing Thunder has no shortage of handsome princes and passionate romance, but the greatest love is between Razia and Sultana, the thunder zahhak she raised from a hatchling but was forced to leave behind when she fled her abusive father’s palace to live on her own terms.But as her confidence in her new life grows, Razia becomes determined to steal Sultana back.Dragons, politics, fighting, chases, escapes, thrilling aerial battles, true love, and a kickass trans protagonist, Stealing Thunder really has it all.Worth your time.
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  • Nitya
    January 1, 1970
    One-starring solely because of the character named "the sultan of nizam" ☠️☠️☠️The sheer CAUCACITY where was the effort here?????Read and support books by queer Desis, not this trash
  • Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
    January 1, 1970
    Stealing Thunder is a beautifully written tale of a former prince now in hiding with a backdrop of the orient doused in adventure delivering a highly readable plot. Razia Khan is her name now and she climbs walls stealthier than anyone else, steals quietly and swiftly from the rich and dances most alluringly to captivate her audience. She is a transgender woman working in a dera along with sisters just like her who also have escaped a life of beatings and discrimination. Most of them have always Stealing Thunder is a beautifully written tale of a former prince now in hiding with a backdrop of the orient doused in adventure delivering a highly readable plot. Razia Khan is her name now and she climbs walls stealthier than anyone else, steals quietly and swiftly from the rich and dances most alluringly to captivate her audience. She is a transgender woman working in a dera along with sisters just like her who also have escaped a life of beatings and discrimination. Most of them have always known that they were born in the wrong body that didn't match their woman's soul. Razia meets prince Arjun at one of her performances and she stands out immediately to him. Smitten with her whit and beauty, he begins to spend time with her, while she continues thieving right under his nose. As their infatuation turns to friendship and more, she almost gets caught by him climbing walls at night and jumping roofs. With the continued interest of Arjun, Razia lets down her guard and tells him the truth. The two of them share a love for flying zahhaks, large feathered creatures that only the noble are allowed to fly and he is impressed by her abilities to control and maneuver them so well. Razia misses flying her own but soon finds the opportunity to do so when she becomes entangled with Arjun's family in a political war that brings her close to home and to her father who has hated and searched for her for years. Not only did Razia endure a troubled childhood, but as she meets Arjun's family, she is being tested of her intentions towards Arjun until her tactics to pull strategic moves against the enemy pay off and she garners a spot as a concubine in his home. But the threat of her old life isn't over until she can save her little sister too and prove her loyalties in the biggest heist she has ever taken part in. Will Razia finally defy the odds and earn the respect and happy life she deserves?***This novel was written by a transgender woman and it was my first experience to read a book with a transgender (main) character. I loved the backdrop of the orient and moments of adventure in it, while in all it was written full of heart. It reads swiftly and is one of those novels you can just get lost in. A bit of intrigue, foes, and enemies round this novel up perfectly and in all, it's a very engrossing story. I liked Razia and Arjun's characters, and I love the way their relationship developed. Both of them are upstanding, nice people, but the concept is still foreign to me. There is no doubt that the author's voice is absolutely beautiful and this novel was written very well. I think it is a great way to be introduced to the subject without it feeling overbearing and I'm certain we will see more books like this in the future. I believe there will be a sequel to Stealing Thunder and I would definitely read it as well. Cheers. I received an Arc of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you kindly. More of my reviews here:Through Novel Time & Distance
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  • Sherwood Smith
    January 1, 1970
    This fantasy is written by a trans woman, with a trans woman as narrator, and it’s set in a fantasy version of the Mughul Empire. As such I was really looking forward to it.And to a certain extent it pleases—the world building is full of vivid detail, especially the dragon-like critters that our heroine and hero ride at breakneck speed through the skies.The problem is that Razia repeatedly hits the same note, explaining how important it was to become a hijra, a courtesan, and how miserable her l This fantasy is written by a trans woman, with a trans woman as narrator, and it’s set in a fantasy version of the Mughul Empire. As such I was really looking forward to it.And to a certain extent it pleases—the world building is full of vivid detail, especially the dragon-like critters that our heroine and hero ride at breakneck speed through the skies.The problem is that Razia repeatedly hits the same note, explaining how important it was to become a hijra, a courtesan, and how miserable her life had been as a prince under a vindictive father. Once or twice would have been all right, but we get the same point over and over, in between which Razia proves to be amazing at whatever she does, whether it’s working as a thief, or being lover to the ultra-perfect, rich, handsome, and devoted Arjun. Oh yes, wrestling and strategy are also among her superlative skills.The second half is more exciting than the first, once the plot gets going. And the dragon critters are very, very cool.Copy provided by NetGalley
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  • Jessica Brewer
    January 1, 1970
    As a (half) South Asian trans woman, I'm so excited for this 💖
  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    While this concept seems dope as shit, the only thing you have to do is listen to ACTUAL queer desi folk to see why this book is Y I K E S.
  • Bob
    January 1, 1970
    As the first adult fantasy novel with a trans woman main character, written by a trans woman author, ever to be published by a mainstream press in the United States, I had high hopes for Stealing Thunder. I didn’t just want it to be good, I needed it to be good, to set the example, and to open the shelves for more books like it. Yeah, I put some pretty heavy expectations on Alina Boyden, but she delivered a book I feel like I’ve been waiting my entire life to read. This was absolutely amazing.Bo As the first adult fantasy novel with a trans woman main character, written by a trans woman author, ever to be published by a mainstream press in the United States, I had high hopes for Stealing Thunder. I didn’t just want it to be good, I needed it to be good, to set the example, and to open the shelves for more books like it. Yeah, I put some pretty heavy expectations on Alina Boyden, but she delivered a book I feel like I’ve been waiting my entire life to read. This was absolutely amazing.Born to wealth and power as a Crown Prince, Razia Khan gave up everything to be true to her feminine soul. She ran away from home, away from the scorn and the abuse, to become a hijra. With a social standing below that of the most debased laborer, and a death sentence waiting should her past be revealed, she has still found happiness with her dera (house).Let me pause there for a moment. Razia, Sakshi, and Lakshmi are women with personalities, backstory, and depth. They are characters you want to read about, people you come to care for very easily, and their found-family dynamic is fantastic. They are all hijra, with their own stories to tell, possessed of a strength that you cannot help but admire. Arjun, the dashing fairy tale Prince who captures Razia’s heart is perhaps a little too perfect, but one can hardly begrudge the Princess her Prince. Even Karim, the cruel, mocking, abusive monster from Razia’s past, proves to have some interesting facets, with a character arc that genuinely surprised me.In terms of setting and world-building, this is very much a desert fantasy, inspired by the history and culture of South Asia. That means there’s a learning curve with the language and terminology, but I found it very easy to pick up on (there is a Glossary at the back). What shifts it from historical fantasy to epic fantasy, however, is the colorful dragons – or, more properly, the zahhaks. These are fantastic creatures, with the different breeds having the power of fire, ice, or acid. Sultana, the zahhak that Razia had to leave behind, is a character herself, and watching these magnificent beasts being flown in battle is simply breathtaking.The romance between Razia and Arjun is definitely a major part of the story, and the way in which he loves her as a woman, accepts her as hijra, and defends her as a Princess is glorious. While he has a lot to do with creating the opportunity, Razia deserves the credit for empowering herself and standing up to those who would ignore her, shun her, and discard her. She repeatedly proves herself, demonstrating incredible bravery, and manages to become a true heroine, a warrior Princess, even while still being a proud hijra. Her story arc takes her from daring scenes of thievery, to tense scenes of politics and strategy, to exhilarating scenes of battle.The worst part of Stealing Thunder was that it had to end. I kept looking at the page numbers left, knowing Razia’s story was almost done, and I didn’t want to leave her or her world. Fortunately, there is a very brief tease of a sequel at the end, and that makes me very happy indeed.https://femledfantasy.home.blog/2020/...
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  • Claude's Bookzone
    January 1, 1970
    CW: (view spoiler)[Sexual violence, rape of minor, exploitation (hide spoiler)]A thoroughly enjoyable book. I loved the bond between Razia and her sisters. The connection they felt with each other through being hijra (assigned male at birth but have had an operation and treatments that allow them to live as transfeminine women) means the depth of love and understanding they have for each other makes them true sisters in their eyes. The relationship between Razia and Arjun developed naturally and CW: (view spoiler)[Sexual violence, rape of minor, exploitation (hide spoiler)]A thoroughly enjoyable book. I loved the bond between Razia and her sisters. The connection they felt with each other through being hijra (assigned male at birth but have had an operation and treatments that allow them to live as transfeminine women) means the depth of love and understanding they have for each other makes them true sisters in their eyes. The relationship between Razia and Arjun developed naturally and was quite sweet but there was a bit of instalove and instatrust that did feel a bit off given that revealing her identity was life threatening. This is not a fantasy in the truest sense of the word as aside from the zahhaks presence (dragons), no magic existed (well not in the first book anyway). I thought Razia was an engaging main character and found her to be a strong, intelligent and confident woman. I think there were some pacing issues and there were a few points that were a bit laboured for me. The last quarter of the book was really exciting which elevated this book from a 3.5 to a 4 Star for me. I also think diversity is important as everyone should be able to see themselves represented in novels. I look forward to reading the next book.
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  • Stacey Lanning
    January 1, 1970
    If you loved Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass, Stealing Thunder is a must. Razia is a badass, living her life as a courtesan and thief in order to be herself. She meets Arjun, a prince, and Razia gets a taste of her old life, including riding zahhaks(dragons). I couldn't put the book down. The last three chapters of Stealing Thunder were intense. I had to force myself to breathe. Growing up reading fantasy novels with strong female characters, I am very thankful that trans women have a heroine of If you loved Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass, Stealing Thunder is a must. Razia is a badass, living her life as a courtesan and thief in order to be herself. She meets Arjun, a prince, and Razia gets a taste of her old life, including riding zahhaks(dragons). I couldn't put the book down. The last three chapters of Stealing Thunder were intense. I had to force myself to breathe. Growing up reading fantasy novels with strong female characters, I am very thankful that trans women have a heroine of their own. I loved Stealing Thunder and cannot wait for a sequel!
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  • Fae Crate
    January 1, 1970
    One of my favorite 2020 reads and I have a feeling it will stay that way. Such a rich world with incredibly written characters that will have you rooting for everyone’s happiness. This book will have you raging in defense of its characters, falling in love and laughing all at once. A book about knowing what you’re worth and not accepting anything less. 150% recommend this book.
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  • Annie
    January 1, 1970
    Razia Khan has found a place where she can finally be herself. Unfortunately, the price of freedom is that she steals of the guru of her dera, a house for hijra courtesans. Not only does Razia have to steal from clients, she has to do it with a smile on her face, beautiful dancing, and negotiable affection. Stealing Thunder, by Alina Boyden, is the electrifying beginning of a series featuring Razia, a trans woman who was born as the crown prince of one of the most powerful empires in an Indian-i Razia Khan has found a place where she can finally be herself. Unfortunately, the price of freedom is that she steals of the guru of her dera, a house for hijra courtesans. Not only does Razia have to steal from clients, she has to do it with a smile on her face, beautiful dancing, and negotiable affection. Stealing Thunder, by Alina Boyden, is the electrifying beginning of a series featuring Razia, a trans woman who was born as the crown prince of one of the most powerful empires in an Indian-inspired fantasy world...Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.
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  • Mel
    January 1, 1970
    **I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.**So, first things first: I am glad that this book exists. It is important for trans people to be able to see themselves represented in fiction (and by a trans writer no less), and if this helps someone out there feel less alone then that's wonderful.But setting that aside and looking just to the plot of the book...yeah, I am still baffled at how this book managed to scupper so many chances at interesting scenes and conflicts - and at how early it **I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley.**So, first things first: I am glad that this book exists. It is important for trans people to be able to see themselves represented in fiction (and by a trans writer no less), and if this helps someone out there feel less alone then that's wonderful.But setting that aside and looking just to the plot of the book...yeah, I am still baffled at how this book managed to scupper so many chances at interesting scenes and conflicts - and at how early it started to do it! Razia's big secret? She reveals that to her bf in, what, chapter three? After knowing him for all of one night? And then, after that magnificent display of easily averted self-destruction I'm supposed to believe this girl is some genius strategist? Ah, but of course I am, right because the narrative keeps insistently telling me that she's brilliant and that Arjun is just the best. man. ever because he...what does he do again? Keep making promises (that he keeps for a whole week, wow!) and kissing her neck? Wowza, what a guy.Here's something else the narrative kept insisting upon: recapping Razia's motivations for doing whatever she was doing at that exact moment (my memory's bad, but damn, it's not bad enough to forget what I read five pages ago, alright), and also, my favorite, recounting all the reasons her life was in danger when...she never actually seemed to be in that much danger. Scenes that should have had tremendous impact end with the antagonist shaking his/her finger in Razia's face, insulting her, but then...also giving her her due. And again, this starts EARLY on, so that you know, by the time you reach the big bad that nothing bad is going to happen to her, because why would it? The conflict's been diluted to the point of transparency everywhere else, so why not here too? And I could've dug a conflict-free book, honestly. Seeing Razia go about her day to day would've made an interesting book, because the world itself was so interesting on its own! And yet that ended up getting old too when I realized that this book had given walls - literal walls - more characterization than it had given most of these characters. I mean, I'm sorry but prejudiced men don't just flip mid-conversation because the plot needs Razia to be able to hang in a palace. The dragons felt more real to me than the possibility of that.Even saying all this I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of all my issues with this book, because there was SO MUCH potential here and I don't think any of it was used to its best effect.So, yeah, for me, this one's not a keeper. But again, I respect the representation it offers and the readers who may see themselves in its pages. Here's hoping this is only the beginning.
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  • Mjspice
    January 1, 1970
    No one learned anything from the American Dirt drama.
  • Dianne
    January 1, 1970
    Even as the crown prince of one of the most powerful kingdoms, Razia didn’t feel right in his own skin. He was meant to be a woman and stole away from the life that was never meant for her, leaving behind the wealth and privilege for a clandestine life as a consort. That she was good as a thief, as well as a seductress, made her even more valuable to her “handler.”Razia never expected to find a man who would love her for herself, or that she would love in return. Acceptance was far from what she Even as the crown prince of one of the most powerful kingdoms, Razia didn’t feel right in his own skin. He was meant to be a woman and stole away from the life that was never meant for her, leaving behind the wealth and privilege for a clandestine life as a consort. That she was good as a thief, as well as a seductress, made her even more valuable to her “handler.”Razia never expected to find a man who would love her for herself, or that she would love in return. Acceptance was far from what she grew up with. It would be that relationship that would change her life in ways she could never have imagined and bring her a true joy for living while validating her existence.STEALING THUNDER by Alina Boyden is a tale of being true to oneself, of acceptance and finding strength from within. Not a rapid-fire read, there is a beauty to the writing, although at times, things fell almost too easily into place. Wonderful descriptions bring the setting to life and the magical touch of dragons adds a sense of power to this tale.An intriguing way to portray a transgender woman struggling to gain acceptance from both within and from those around her.I received a complimentary ARC edition from Ace/Berkley Publishing Group. This is my honest and voluntary review.Publisher: Ace (May 12, 2020)Publication Date: May 12, 2020Genre: Transgender FantasyAvailable from: Amazon | Barnes & NobleFor Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com
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  • Gaia Amman
    January 1, 1970
    Received an ARC from Random House.PROs: -Trans author and trans main character! -Main character is super badass while still being super feminine (a rare combo)-Dragons (I mean zahakks)-Very cathartic. She is surrounded by hatred and men that constantly try to humiliate her but she outwits them. Her strength was inspiring-I really enjoy the book being set in Northern India-Main character is a prostitute: what a unique perspective!So why only three stars?-For me, there was a bit too much repetitio Received an ARC from Random House.PROs: -Trans author and trans main character! -Main character is super badass while still being super feminine (a rare combo)-Dragons (I mean zahakks)-Very cathartic. She is surrounded by hatred and men that constantly try to humiliate her but she outwits them. Her strength was inspiring-I really enjoy the book being set in Northern India-Main character is a prostitute: what a unique perspective!So why only three stars?-For me, there was a bit too much repetition. The reader is reminded way too many times of obvious things (why she's in danger, who wants to kill her and why, the stakes etc...)-There was no romantic tension. I could not feel it.-The end was a bit obvious (I still liked it)Conclusions:Read it! It's a good book and we need way more like it!
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  • Ms. Meghan
    January 1, 1970
    From the publisher: 'Protecting her identity means life or death in this immersive epic fantasyinspired by the Mughal Empire. In a different life, under a different name, Razia Khan was raised to be the Crown Prince of Nizam, the most powerful kingdom in Daryastan. Born with the soul of a woman, she ran away at a young age to escape her father’s hatred and live life true to herself.Amongst the hijras of Bikampur, Razia finds sisterhood and discovers a new purpose in life. By day she’s one of her From the publisher: 'Protecting her identity means life or death in this immersive epic fantasyinspired by the Mughal Empire. In a different life, under a different name, Razia Khan was raised to be the Crown Prince of Nizam, the most powerful kingdom in Daryastan. Born with the soul of a woman, she ran away at a young age to escape her father’s hatred and live life true to herself.Amongst the hijras of Bikampur, Razia finds sisterhood and discovers a new purpose in life. By day she’s one of her dera’s finest dancers, and by night its most profitable thief. But when her latest target leads her to cross paths with Arjun Agnivansha, Prince of Bikampur, it is she who has something stolen. An immediate connection with the prince changes Razia’s life forever, and she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous political war. The stakes are greater than any heist she’s ever performed. When the battle brings her face to face with her father, Razia has the chance to reclaim everything she lost…and save her prince.'What the blurb from the publisher fails to mention is that there's also feathered zahhaks, large flying quadrupeds that breath thunder, fire, acid, or ice. So, close enough to dragons for the imagination (hopefully there will be official artwork closer to the publication date), and large enough to be ridden by royalty. While dragon riders as a trope has been around for decades, the author consulted with a USAF Lt. Colonel for the aerial battle scenes and it shows. The action scenes are engaging and unmuddled.The publisher's blurb, also, in my opinion, focuses a little too much on the romance aspect of the book. While the relationship between Razia and Arjun is a major plot point, there is also such a focus on being true to oneself and dreaming of reclaiming what has been lost, while struggling with surviving day to day and daring to plan for the future. Romance as a genre isn't my cup of tea, but this book is epic fantasy, just with a romance subplot. I enjoyed this book immensely, and am very much looking forward to the sequel. It's nice to get away from a generic European setting for epic fantasy, and I look forward to reading more books like Stealing Thunder and Hunted by the Sky. Throughout the book, I was able to parse most of the unfamiliar terms through context, and there was a glossary in the back. At times, Razia's internal monologue could be a bit repetitious, and overall the story could do with a bit of tightening. There may be some times when things may work out a bit too simply or neatly for some readers, but I personally prefer my recreational reading to fall more on the happy ending side than gritty realism. The author's note states: 'Now, I'm proud to say that Stealing Thunder will be the first adult fantasy novel with a trans woman main character, written by a trans woman, ever to be published by a mainstream press in the United States'. Author and trans activist Alina Boyden wrote Stealing Thunder while working on her PhD in cultural anthropology, focusing working with the hijra communities of India and Pakistan. Representation matters, and I hope Stealing Thunder will encourage publishers to bring us more voices to listen to.I read an uncorrected proof of Stealing Thunder. It is scheduled to be published in May of 2020 and will be available in print at the Galesburg Public Library. This review originally posted at Books You Can Die in the Middle Of: https://lookgoodifyoudie.blogspot.com...
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC.I'm reviewing this as an American cisgender reader, and I recognize my viewpoint on this book is based on those identities. If you're reading this, I encourage you to also seek out reviews from desi and trans readers and writers. Razia, once the crown prince of a powerful ruler but born with the soul of a woman, is now a hijra. She makes her living as an entertainer, courtesan, and occasional thief. When a fated encounter with another prince dr Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC.I'm reviewing this as an American cisgender reader, and I recognize my viewpoint on this book is based on those identities. If you're reading this, I encourage you to also seek out reviews from desi and trans readers and writers. Razia, once the crown prince of a powerful ruler but born with the soul of a woman, is now a hijra. She makes her living as an entertainer, courtesan, and occasional thief. When a fated encounter with another prince draws her into a complex situation, Razia has a chance to prove she's still a strategic and political genius— and a chance to save everyone she loves. And there are DRAGONS. I enjoyed the hell out of this book. Reading a book with a trans protagonist is still refreshing to me, and I deeply appreciated that we get to meet Razia secure and happy in her identity. There's little romantic tension, true, but that was pleasant in itself— how unique to encounter a couple in fiction whose relationship isn't constantly filled with self-inflicted drama! The level of happiness and good fortune smacks of Mary Sue elements at times, but I think trans protagonists deserve all of the nice things right now. The level of happiness at the end of the book was sublime, and left me squealing in delight. The Indian elements were well integrated and didn't necessitate looking them up, which was perfect. (Though there is a glossary in the back, which was a thoughtful addition). Highly recommended.
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  • Dana
    January 1, 1970
    I loved the story! After receiving the book I finished the book within the next 24 hours because as soon as I started reading, I was hooked. I love the different idea of dragons/Zahhaks and think the inclusion of the various opinions related to transgender and gender roles were well done. This is the first book I have read with a transgender heroine, and I am happy that Alina made the main character that way.
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  • Patrick Williams
    January 1, 1970
    Luck has shone upon me. I won an advance reader's copy of "Stealing Thunder", a novel by my old friend, Alina Boyden. This is the first book in Western literature (to my knowledge) to have a transfeminine protagonist. But, you know, that really isn't the important part (or maybe it is). This is a wonderful book, full of romance, action, adventure, and dragons. A damn fine read; I could not put it down. Put it on your list, available May 12, 2020 at booksellers everywhere.
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  • Smart Bookaholics Inc Bookstore
    January 1, 1970
    This was a great premise of a sci fi masterpiece! I've been jumping out of my comfort zone when reading about other "gender classifications" only because i tend to get caught in the story line not the characters! But I really enjoyed the protagonist in this book! Thank you Berkley Publishing for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This Sounds Soooo Good! I can't wait to read it!
  • Darlene Cruz
    January 1, 1970
    Beautifully written I was taken away for a moment and enjoyed every second of it.
  • Bethany
    January 1, 1970
    A fantasy with a trans princess? Yes please! Review to come.
  • Kriti | Armed with A Book
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes books not only provide the chance to reminisce and be nostalgic, stories also have the power to allow us readers to take a deeper look at our emotions and our situations. Stealing Thunder by Alina Boyden is a book that took me down such a memory lane and reminded me of my homeland. This book reminded me how magical India is. It honestly does not take a lot to feel magic in a place that is so rich in culture, colors and history of kings, queens and wars. As I walked with Razia on the st Sometimes books not only provide the chance to reminisce and be nostalgic, stories also have the power to allow us readers to take a deeper look at our emotions and our situations. Stealing Thunder by Alina Boyden is a book that took me down such a memory lane and reminded me of my homeland. This book reminded me how magical India is. It honestly does not take a lot to feel magic in a place that is so rich in culture, colors and history of kings, queens and wars. As I walked with Razia on the streets of Bikampur, it was like being back home. I remembered the narrow alleys, the street markets, the sounds of the busy city… I was home. For once, I knew every reference being made and every food item and drink mentioned. That is what made me savour this world and want to stay in it forever. If you plan to read the book, I would highly recommend referring to the glossary at the back and maybe even google images of the items. It will absolutely enhance your experience.What is the fantastical element in this book, you might ask? The answer is zahhaks. They are like dragons but smaller, probably horse size. The royalty in this world is trained to ride zahhaks and every region has its speciality. While Razia’s family had thunder zahhaks (yes, they can summon thunder), Prince Arjun rode fire zahhaks and another Prince had acid zahhaks. These creatures are an important part of military strategy and the story focuses on the human relationships with them as well as their use in war. Razia might be a woman but she grew up a man, learning to ride a zahhak, and receiving strategic training that honed her tactical mind that would be helpful to the lords of Bikampur and their allies.I really enjoyed Razia as a protagonist. It was easy to follow along her point of view and feel a kinship to her. The story did a great job of highlighting not only the struggles of being a hijra as well as the reasons why she decided to give up her inheritance to embody who she really is. I have read stories about who we really are and roles imposed by society a couple times since I started book blogging but this one offered a perspective I did not have yet – the story of a trans woman. Overall, Stealing Thunder is engaging and straightforward. I was immersed and lost in it from Page 1 and it felt like home. The author, not being from South Asia, still did an amazing job portraying my home country and giving me that feel of authenticity. At one point in the story, I was acutely aware about certain knowledge I had gained in the West which Razia could not know without that influence. After all the South Asian foods and drinks going unexplained, this conversion stood out to me and led me down a path that I never expected a book would. I disconnected from the world and could no longer perceive it as home again.Stealing Thunder is a well-researched book and an example of a story done well about a different culture. There are, however, always going to be unspoken cultural nuances that will not be able to be represented if the author is not writing within their own culture, no matter how much research is conducted, and this book is a reminder of that. See full thoughts on that aspect on my book blog.I received a complimentary copy from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Traveling Cloak
    January 1, 1970
    Stealing Thunder is a unique telling of the story of a transgender woman, Razia Khan. Razia is a dancer who makes extra money on the side stealing for her dera, and the reader follows her story as she meets a prince with whom she falls in love. Razia's allying with the prince forces many decisions she has made throughout her life to come to a head, as she is taking steps to determine her own fate.To me, this book can be broken up into 2 pieces: the story of a transgender woman, and a fantasy sto Stealing Thunder is a unique telling of the story of a transgender woman, Razia Khan. Razia is a dancer who makes extra money on the side stealing for her dera, and the reader follows her story as she meets a prince with whom she falls in love. Razia's allying with the prince forces many decisions she has made throughout her life to come to a head, as she is taking steps to determine her own fate.To me, this book can be broken up into 2 pieces: the story of a transgender woman, and a fantasy story. I thought the former is really well-written. Razia's journey from Prince of Nazim to her realization of who she was inside and all of the joy and pain that went along with it, is fascinating. There were moments of extreme emotion in the book. At times, I was happy for Razia as she finds things that bring her pleasure and people that accept her for who she is. I even felt proud of her for her courage in choosing to be herself and live her life the way she wants. Other times her pain and suffering felt overwhelming as she dealt with being marginalized, as oftentimes people she interacted with did not even try to hide their bigotry. The author even wrote a lot of sensuality into the story, which is a side of Razia I enjoyed exploring. The depiction of Razia as a transgender woman was great, as the reader gets to see all sides of her and her journey. I got to know Razia well during this book, and I really cared about her fate. Big props to the author, Alina Boyden, on that front.As far as the fantasy plot line goes, I thought it was just okay. It started off in a good place, and I liked the premise. As the story continued, though, it started to feel a little thin to me. As plot lines go, I have become to expect and appreciate the back-and-forth, high-and-low nature of fantasy. It felt to me as reading the characters with whom Razia allies herself have everything go right. There are never any drawbacks to their military plans, everything always goes smoothly. I wish the story was a little deeper as far as world-building goes, as well. The author created an interesting world, and I would have liked to see more of it.In sum, as on point as I thought Razia's personal journey was, the fantasy story itself seemed light and unbalanced to me.Overall, I found this book to be an enjoyable read. I suggest overlooking the narrow plot and losing yourself in Razia's journey. I recommend this book for fans of fantasy, and those who are interested in stories focused on marginalized persons, in particular.
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  • Sherry
    January 1, 1970
    2.5 starsFor me, Stealing Thunder was an interesting read, if not an entirely successful one.The setting is inspired by South Asia and focuses on a main character, Razia, who is a hijra. Hijra are not fictional; they are real people, part of a South Asian transfeminine community that is legally recognized as a third gender in India. The author is a trans American and a cultural anthropologist who has worked with hijra activists. According to the book’s foreword, part of the reason this book exis 2.5 starsFor me, Stealing Thunder was an interesting read, if not an entirely successful one.The setting is inspired by South Asia and focuses on a main character, Razia, who is a hijra. Hijra are not fictional; they are real people, part of a South Asian transfeminine community that is legally recognized as a third gender in India. The author is a trans American and a cultural anthropologist who has worked with hijra activists. According to the book’s foreword, part of the reason this book exists was that friends of hers who had read it, including Indian trans women, encouraged her to submit it for publication.So, even though the author is not a hijra herself, her familiarity with their lives gives her story an authentic feel. The hijra have existed for centuries, and they have their own society and traditions, even their own language, details of which are discussed in the book. Their lives are hard, and Razia’s struggles aren’t sugarcoated for an American audience. Many hijra are involved in sex work, just like Razia, and are subject to harassment and assault. Although not described in detail, past sexual violence against a very young Razia is mentioned in the story, which might be problematic for some readers. My interest in Razia’s life as a hijra kept me reading, but her trans identity overshadows the fantasy more than I expected. The one truly fantastical aspect of the book is the existence of winged dragonlike creatures called zahhaks that are used in battle by nobles like Razia, who was a prince in her former life. (There’s an exciting aerial combat scene near the end where the zahhaks take center stage.) But the real focus is Razia’s status as a former prince and now a hijra, which is commented on over and over again by scornful men throughout the course of the story. Razia overcomes their prejudice by being amazing at everything she does—wrestling, climbing, strategy, zahhak riding, etc. She also wins the heart of the man she loves. It’s satisfying to see her triumph, but at the same time, it’s a bit too much like wish fulfillment to feel truthful to what is otherwise a fairly gritty fantasy world. Overall, even if not everything about it worked for me, I’m glad I gave this book a try because of its representation, both of the hijra community and of a trans heroine written by a trans author.A copy of this book was provided through NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own.
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  • Writerlibrarian
    January 1, 1970
    I am of two minds with this book. The good : the world building is really interesting. The action is well done. The descriptions are vivid. The characters have some depths. The bad : the characters are almost not real. They are either too good or too evil. Yes, the author gives us trans characters that you care about, a love story, vilains and an amazing world they live in but... I felt all through reading it that I was given a picture perfect story that has nothing to do with the culture that i I am of two minds with this book. The good : the world building is really interesting. The action is well done. The descriptions are vivid. The characters have some depths. The bad : the characters are almost not real. They are either too good or too evil. Yes, the author gives us trans characters that you care about, a love story, vilains and an amazing world they live in but... I felt all through reading it that I was given a picture perfect story that has nothing to do with the culture that inspired it even though the world we are given is fantasy. There were also choices that made me go, nope. The character of Kasim is a big no no for me. His somewhat "redemption" for lack of a better word at the end of the story made me want to scream. Some characters are really young and are put in very adult situations without much preparation I would say. Razia is the all and be all character. It's okay she's the lead character but it felt a bit much : perfect thief, perfect courtisan, really good dancer, amazing war strategist, etc. Same for Arjun and Razia's dera sisters. I am not sorry I read it but for me the sexual violence, psychological violence and underage exploitation are disturbing to me. I received a Netgalley copy in exchange for an honest review.
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