Book Review: THE OLEANDER SWORD by Tasha Suri

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: book 2 of trilogy



Book cover for THE OLEANDER SWORD: title in blue on green drawing of a woman in a sari with a sword pushing through curtains

The prophecy of the nameless god—the words that declared Malini the rightful empress of Parijatdvipa—has proven a blessing and curse. She is determined to claim the throne that fate offered her. But even with the strength of the rage in her heart and the army of loyal men by her side, deposing her brother is going to be a brutal and bloody fight.

The power of the deathless waters flows through Priya’s blood. Thrice born priestess, Elder of Ahiranya, Priya’s dream is to see her country rid of the rot that plagues it: both Parijatdvipa’s poisonous rule, and the blooming sickness that is slowly spreading through all living things. But she doesn’t yet understand the truth of the magic she carries.

Their chosen paths once pulled them apart. But Malini and Priya’s souls remain as entwined as their destinies. And they soon realize that coming together is the only way to save their kingdom from those who would rather see it burn—even if it will cost them. 

Blurb taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


THE OLEANDER SWORD is a tale of sacrifice and danger and betrayal. If they want to win the war, the characters are going to have to make a lot of hard choices that will demand everything from them – and the war they’re fighting may not be the only one they have to win…

This is the sort of book that makes you gasp and constantly fear for the characters and what new awfulness they’ll go through. The story is brutal and full of sharp edges, refusing to pull a single punch – but instead follows that punch up with another. Every decision has consequences, and those consequences always have to be paid. I really liked that, seeing the cost of the war and the decisions – plus it fits into the world so well to demand that most of the time it’s two bad decisions and then the characters have to make the best of whatever that choice unleashes.

There is a mix of human and supernatural evils in this book. On the one hand, there is the human evil of Chandra and his armies and conviction that the acts hisof violence and brutality (mostly aimed at women) he is raining down on the country and Malini is divinely ordained. On the other, there is the unsettling power of the magic of Ahiranya, where things may not be as it seems and their gods less than benevolent. It’s a god balance of dangers, knowing that even if they succeed at defeating one enemy, it may be at the cost of letting another strengthen their position so they are harder to defeat.

Once again, the world is so lush. It has expanded in THE OLEANDER SWORD, covering a lot more of the empire than THE JASMINE THRONE (which was pretty much entirely set in Ahiranya.) not only do we get to see new places and new characters, but there’s also a chance to look deeper at the politics of the empire and how it’s held together (which is always a win for me!)

There are a lot of POVs in this book, even more than the last. I mostly kept up, but I found it a tad hard to remember who the small-part narrators were, the ones who had one or two chapters and were minor side characters seeing this one thing no one else had. Admittedly, I was reading this book in a fair bit of a reading/creative slump so this book took longer and had less focus than the average book.

The ending is !!!! And I really need to know how that all works out because Tasha Suri has not left the characters in good places…

Read my reviews of other books by Tasha Suri:

The Burning Kingdoms (this series):

The Books of Ambha:


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