Upon A Burning Throne is a perfect saga of a stone throne that burns if an undeserving even touch it and a wonderfully complex list of characters who are either burning themselves in the name of doing the right thing or are adamant of burning others, again in the name of doing the right thing.
Stonefire, as it came to be known, did not simply burn you.
It devoured you.
This epic fantasy has been pitched as Indian Game of Thrones and doesn’t shy away from stating it’s inspired by the ancient Mahabharata but if there’s something I want to clear out firsthand is: this is so right! It’s definitely inspired by the mythological writings but it’s not merely an impersonation. While there are evident as well as subtle similarities between Mahabharata and Upon A Burning Throne, the latter is authentic in its own sense.
It accounts for the Krushan dynasty—the descendants of Kr’ush, the man formed of the burning stone itself—that has sat on the Stonefire and ruled The Burnt Empire for ages because they all have one thing in common: “they did not burn.” Though, not every child born in this royal family can be worthy enough to rule and so, the Stonefire burns the children who are not estimable in a ceremony that gathers all of Hastinaga and renowned men from around the world. It’s interesting to see what happens when the new additions to the lineage—a blind child and an albinic one—are subjected to the judging, to find out who is more capable to rule based on the fire that will or will not engulf them.
They came to watch the children burn.
Though, the story also incorporates the storylines of other regions and characters which gives a sense of achievable diversity to the book. From the desert regions called Reygistan to the high mountain ranges of The Mountain Kingdom, the landscape and setting are worth imagining and easy to grasp. Speaking of the setting, everything is vivid enough to make it dimensional enough but also not overly complex to draw a reader out. A perfect balance that will impress the reader for sure!
“Among the Reygistani, a child is known by their mother’s name. We are a matriarchal society. A woman may take as many husbands as she wishes, or bed a hundred men, it matters not. Her children are her children.”
The characters are vastly different from each other but also intricately woven together to the mainstream dilemma of good or evil. Though, such a huge list of characters makes the story more and more interesting with every turning page and justifies the epicness of Upon A Burning Throne.
⚔ Shvate the albinic Krushan prince, next in line to rule The Burnt Empire. Loves his brother and prefers to protect the kingdom by fighting on the field against the traitors and non-supporters.
⚒ Adri the blind Krushan prince, next in line to sit on the Burning Throne. Loves his brother and prefers to stay within the safe confinement of his palace. Has strong senses and a smart, strategic mind.
⚖ Vrath the upholder of Krushan law, a demigod—son of Jeel (River Goddess) and Emperor Sha’ant (previous ruler of The Burnt Empire). Protects his family at all costs. Impossible to defeat on a battlefield.
👑 Jilana the current Emperess of The Burnt Empire, widow of Emperor Sha’ant and grandmother to Adri & Shvate. Wants Hastinaga to always stay the capital kingdom and not be threatened by any outside forces.
💣 Jarsun a monster with Krushan blood, brother to Emperor Sha’ant, was banished from Hastinaga due to traitorous actions. Now, ruler of Reygistan. Demands his daughter, Krushita, to sit on the Stonefire as the rightful heir.
🗝 Karni & Mayla wives of Shvate, strong women.
🗡 Kern born with golden armour, son of the Sun God, born with the best of a fighter’s abilities.
“Go home, embrace your son, and perform a sacrifice thanking the gods that he still lives. The reason he does is because the boy was only defending himself. If he had been attacking, then your son, and all the others, would now be dead.”
Moving on, the story itself and the writing is commendable. The book is divided into four parts that range over different timelines and characters but finally brings the narrative to enough peak that you can’t wait for the sequel! It’s a multiple POV that is narrated through a third-person perspective and essentially plays the scenes and sequences in the most wonderful manner. In fact, there’s even a short chapter or two from the eyes of a crow and a vulture so that can help a reader understand why I’m appreciating the writing so much.
Overall, Upon A Burning Throne is a definite recommendation for all those who want to add a diverse read to their pile of books and would love to dive into the world of an epic fantasy that is laid on the base of an even more epic mythological scripture.
Disclaimer: I received a physical copy of this via my participation in a blog tour but that, in no way, affects my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you, Simon & Schuster India! This post may contain affiliate links.