Title: The Library of Fates
Author: Aditi Khorana
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Published: By Razorbill on July 18th, 2017
No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.
The palace is soon under siege, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on one another. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates.
Continuing my trend of reading Asian-inspired fantasy, I stumbled upon this standalone through Book Twitter. I became all the more excited when I realised the setting was inspired by ancient India.
In this case however, my expectations were too high and the book did not deliver all I had hoped for. My main problem were the characters. I couldn’t connect much with the protagonist. The other characters also seemed one-dimensional, other than the lead’s best friend. Also, the love story didn’t work for me. Another little complained I had was with the plot. There was so much potential for it to be rich and complex, but since the entire story is packed into one book, I felt that it lacked depth. Many things happened conveniently and the conclusion was a little underwhelming. However, the setting is where this book excels. I’ve never read a book inspired by ancient Kashmir and I honestly couldn’t get enough. The mythology and lore in this world is very well developed. I could read a book of tales set in this world alone, akin to Bardugo’s Language of Thorns.
If you’re looking for a good entry-level Asian fantasy book, I’d highly recommend this. It is also for people who enjoy good prose and rich world-building in fantasy. Listen to the strains of the sitar or the santoor as you flip the pages of this book. It would be a crime if you don’t use this as an excuse to indulge in the rich and aromatic authentic Kashmiri cuisine.
Have you read this book, and if yes, what did you think of it? Do you have more Indian-inspired fantasy recommendations for me? Or would you like me to do a recommendations post? Let me in know in the comments section below.