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3.5 

Upon A Burning Throne

By Ashok K. Banker
Upon A Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

From international sensation Ashok K. Banker, pioneer of the fantasy genre in India, comes the first book in a groundbreaking, 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

31 Reviews

3.5
“I liked it. 2.5/5 (12.5/25) If you like war elephants, chariot battles, Indian Gods and Demigods, or mythological retellings, then give this one a try. I disliked many of the author's style choices, but the story, characters, setting and themes are all rich with fantastic elements. Content Warning: suicide, incest, rape, abortion, polygamy Minor Spoilers Below. Plot: 2/5 This is difficult to score. The plot is influenced heavily by stories from the Mahabharata, a great mythology. But the execution has some flaws. Following two princes, one albino and one blind, and their troubled ascendance to lead an empire. There are some great moments with battles, heroics, struggle and tragedy. There are also some broken plotlines which lead nowhere and plot holes with Gods and Demigods choosing to be fickle. A heavy focus later on the wives interrupts the story instead of enhancing it. Time lapses are sudden and difficult to follow. The pot becomes convoluted, with gaps, mainly due to some style choices made. Setting: 3/5 Placed in the Burnt Empire, in ancient times when Gods and Demigods still influence the royal bloodlines. A conglomeration of over a thousand smaller kingdoms, rife with rebellions and revolts, the size of the empire can be felt through some moments in the plot. This is Indian-inspired, with war elephants and a few colloquial terms, though descriptions are basic. There is an attempt at cultural relevance through the war-like mantras of what it means to be Krushan. The map does not contain all of the named kingdoms or locations, and has other places named that are not mentioned in the book. Other kingdoms are presented, but differentiated only by geography, with mountain kingdoms, forest kingdoms, and the desert empire of Reygistan. Any differences in customs or culture are not explored. The magic is not explained, but there are gurus who can wield sorcery. There are Demigods that can do just about anything. And Gods that could do anything but rarely intervene. There are demons with Godlike powers as well. The magic is on an epic scale. Characters: 3.5/5 Shvate is the albino prince, with troubles in daylight and great dedication and loyalty to his brother, family and kingdom. Well-written ,with strengths and faults, and the best written journey in the book. His failure to meet his own impossible expectations was particularly interesting. Adri is the other prince, Shvate's brother, and blind from birth. I saw quite a bit of inconsistency with him, at times self-sufficient and other times reliant on others, interested in politics then despising politics. Trauma explains some of this, but due to the frequent gaps in the story, it was not easy to connect implied consequences with observable actions not seen until much later in the book. Jilana is the most complex and my favorite character, struggling with rule of the kingdom and keeping her family safe. She makes some bad decisions, justified by her motives, and though a bit tough at times, she was fun to read. The wives were introduced late in the novel, written in a way I found difficult to like or empathize with, and took over quite a chunk of the book. There were some glimpses of goodness in their pages, but most of their scenes served as exposition. Vrath is the coolest and most interesting character, a Demigod with immense powers, but he gets sidelined quite a bit so that the princes aren't outshined, as this is supposed to be their story. Jarsun is the main antagonist, a demon with numerous powers and a grudge against the princes and the Krushan rulers. Style: 1/5 The pacing suffers from poor transitions between scenes and time jumps. It gets wrecked by repeated scenes from new povs that aren't adding any new information for the plot. It is slowed by too many povs, including a crow and vulture pov, that didn't need to be there. So much could have been cut, including repetition in descriptions, inner dialogue, dialogue and exposition. The wives' perspectives interrupted, more than helped along, the flow of the story. There were a few authorial promises made and not kept, the most obvious being the prologue establishes that this will be a story about two princes being challenged by their sister for the throne. The sister is mentioned offhandedly once after the prologue, so the story was not what was promised in the prologue or the jacket. It felt more like a collection of disjointed short stories tailored together then a clear and cohesive story. Some of those stories were very good, but the execution of combining them into a coherent whole was an utter failure. The language is ok, with some minor Indian terms thrown in for flavoring. There is frequent mention of the digestive behaviors of horses early on, and the smells of such throughout the entire book. Yes, horses stink, but it doesn't have to be a focus in a fantasy novel. Themes: 3/5 There are glimpses of some heavy themes in the character work. Shvate is an over-achiever who expects perfection from himself, so when he fails, it takes a heavy toll on him as he experiences crippling guilt and shame. Adri suffers from depression, self-pity, low self-worth, and crushing insecurities. Unloving parents, disabilities, trust, betrayal, revenge, power and fear are all tackled in these pages to some degree.”

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