Cover image for Upon a burning throne / Ashok K. Banker.
Upon a burning throne / Ashok K. Banker.
Publication Information:
Boston ; New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.
Physical Description:
669 pages : map ; 24 cm.
General Note:
"A John Joseph Adams book."

The Burnt Empire saga ;

book 1
"First of a new epic fantasy series inspired by an ancient Sanskrit epic and Indian mythology, Upon a Burning Throne evokes the expansive world-building and complex twists of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, N.K. Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy,and Ken Liu's The Dandelion Dynasty series"-- Provided by publisher.


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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

Author Notes

ASHOK K. BANKER is the pioneer of the speculative fiction genre in India and the author of fifty-two books, including the internationally acclaimed Ramayana series. His works have all been best-sellers in India, and have sold around the world.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bestselling Indian novelist Banker's U.S. debut is an ambitious and highly readable, if slightly overlong, opening chapter in a new epic inspired by one of the oldest: the ancient Sanskrit Mahabharata. Half-brothers Shvate and Adri are heirs to the magical Burning Throne of the Krushan Empire. Their right to rule is called into question by disability-Shvate has albinism, and Adri is blind-and the machinations of their malevolent uncle, the demonic outcast Jarsun. In the resulting political unease, secret conspiracies and open rebellion threaten the Burnt Empire and its young princes. Banker (the Ramayana series) impressively depicts the loyalties and rivalries of a huge cast while moving his enormous story at cinematic pace through scales personal, political, and cosmic. The story features some memorably epic battles, including one against an entire living city that's been grotesquely transformed by magic. There's more setup for future conflicts than resolution, but readers familiar with Hindu mythology will find the foreshadowing enhances their anticipation of future installments. Fans of doorstopper epic fantasy will devour this tale of gods and princes. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

The vast Burnt Empire has lost its emperor, but standing at the helm of the Krushans are the Dowager Empress Jilana and her stepson, demigod and devout Prince Regent Vrath. Two young princes, Adri and Shvate, are in line to rule, but simply being born into the family does not guarantee the throne. Any successor must sit upon the Burning Throne and survive the Test of Fire; those deemed unworthy will be devoured by flame. While Adri and Shvate pass the test and are declared heirs, so does another child, a female infant from an outlying kingdom, daughter of banished demonlord Jarsun. When the girl is denied by Jilana and Vrath, Jarsun vows to destroy the empire in war. As the young princes must prove they are capable heirs, for Adri is blind and Shvate, albino, the world around them prepares for a battle that will involve their families, land, mortals, and gods. Despite the heft of this nearly 700-page volume, readers will hardly be able to pull themselves away from the layered story lines and well-developed characters. VERDICT Banker (Awaken) launches a new epic fantasy series set in a vivid world inspired by India and the Middle East, mythology and monarchy, filled with enticing narration and action.-Kristi Chadwick, -Massachusetts Lib. Syst., Northampton © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



1 They came to watch the children burn. The royal criers had gone about the city the night before, calling out the news that Dowager Empress Jilana and Prince Regent Vrath would appear before the royal assembly at the auspicious hour to issue an important announcement. One that they had all been waiting to hear for over a year. That was the official word. The unofficial word, passed shivering through the body of the great metropolis like a fever through a favela, was that there would be a Burning. The imperial palace would not confirm this; they did not deny it either. People believed the rumor. They always do. They came from far and wide, high and low, leaving work unfinished, doors unlocked, food half eaten, eager for entertainment. Who could blame them? After all, it isn't every day one gets to see princes and princesses burned to a crisp. People packed the avenues and roadways, sat atop rooftops and terraces, crowding every dusty field, every mud-tracked street, every bylane leading to the palace. Children sat on their fathers' shoulders or on their mothers' hips. Caste was ignored; class, forgotten. Merchants and traders, hunters and farmers, priests and soldiers, all stood jostling one another. Two million perspiring bodies anxiously awaiting the royal proclamation. Runners awaited, the reins of their mounts in hand; horses, camels, elephants, wagon cart trains, and other transports all ready to depart for cities across the known world, for the outcome of a Burning could change the course of history, influence the rise and fall of empires, or launch a thousand wars. Inside the magnificent palace stronghold, the great Senate Hall was thronged from wall to wall with kings, princes, ministers and merchant lords, preceptors and traders, as well as ambassadors from a score of distant foreign lands. Even the sentries posted at each of the thousand and eight pillars of the vast hall were pressed back against the cold stone by the crowd of humanity. The influence of the Burnt Empire extended not only to the far corners of this continent, but the entire civilized world. Traders and priests crossed oceans and deserts, mountain ranges and war-torn regions, braved barbarian hordes and bandit bands, to visit Hastinaga, City of Elephants and Snakes. There were ambassadors with ebony complexions as dark as Dowager Empress Jilana's as well as pale-skinned foreigners with yellow hair, strange garb, and stranger tongues; men from the East with long beards and drooping mustaches; allies, tributes, and even royal emissaries. Some were of dubious loyalty. A few had warred, allied against, or otherwise opposed the expansion and growth of the Burnt Empire, before being compelled by force, expedience, or simple economic necessity to join its ever-burgeoning expansion. Many of those present had ancestors who had been present at the legendary founding of this capital city. More than a few had lost ancestors in battles or rebellions against the Krushan. Former enemies or past rivals, they were all as one on this historic occasion. In place of poison-tipped daggers, they brought honeyed words. In lieu of arrows and legions, they offered rich tributes and exotic gifts. All present, without exception, bowed their heads with humility before the fabled and feared Burning Throne. 2 At first glance, it looked like nothing more than a big rock. As first impressions go, this was a perceptive one. If seen in a different setting, in the high rocky mountains of Kalimeru perhaps, or the desert wilderness of Reygistan, or even the inhospitable forests of Jangala, one would have passed it by without a second glance. It was just a rock. Yet it was not a rock at all. The jet-black substance perfectly emulated the appearance and texture of a rock. Yet unlike any ordinary rock, it was imbued with deep, powerful sorcery. For one thing, it evaded the human gaze. The obsidian-dark surface drank light as parched earth drinks rain. The jagged texture made it deadly to touch: a passing graze could strip the skin off one's arm with the ease of a shredder. Most importantly, if touched by living flesh, it burst into flame instantly and did not cease burning until the unfortunate limb or individual in possession of said limb was completely and conclusively consumed. Stonefire, as it came to be known, did not simply burn you. It devoured you. Excerpted from Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok Banker All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.