Book Review: Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs, Book One), Susan Kaye Quinn (2013)

April 28th, 2014 9:45 am by Kelly Garbato

Hella Fun!

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Member Giveaways program.)

As the Third Daughter of Dharia, Aniri enjoys a luxury which was denied her older sisters: on her 18th birthday, she’s free to marry for love instead of country. First in the line of succession, Aniri’s oldest sister Nahali has been groomed from birth to become Queen; fittingly, she arranged to marry a Dharian nobleman (whom she just so happened to love). Meanwhile, middle sister Seledri married a Samirian prince in order to further the alliance between her country and his (sadly, the prince’s love for Seledri is as of yet unrequited).

With no interests left to further, Aniri happily awaits the day when she’ll be able to marry her lover Devesh, a courtesan and fencing instructor from Samir. Then they will travel the world in search of the Samirian robbers who murdered her father the King some eight years ago.

Naturally, a wrench finds its way into Aniri’s plans – in the form of Ashoka Malik, the barbarian prince of Jungali. After the untimely deaths of his mother and younger brother, Prince Malik – “Ash” to his friends – finds himself in charge of a fractured country. Comprised of four provinces, the mountain country is mired in poverty and fraught with infighting, particularly as at least one of the provinces’ generals play at a military coup. Rumors of a Jungali flying machine run rampant, and war seems inevitable. Hoping that his marriage to a Dharian Prince will cultivate a powerful alliance and unite his people behind him, Prince Malik proposes a peace-brokering marriage to the Queen. Unfortunately for Aniri, she is the only single daughter left.

And that’s just the first few chapters! (I won’t say more because I’d rather not spoil the story, but suffice it to say that nothing is as it seems.)

Equal parts political intrigue, steampunk fantasy, and romantic subterfuge, Third Daughter is a rollicking fun read. Just when you think you know where the story’s headed or who you can trust, Quinn throws in a plot twist or added layer of deception that you never saw coming.

Yes, there’s a love triangle; and yes, its resolution is somewhat predictable. But that doesn’t make it any less fun! (Or progressive: there’s plenty of class warfare in Third Daughter, and Princess Aniri is forced to confront and reconsider her prejudices about the “barbarian” prince from the poor mountain country whom she’s dispatched to marry/spy on. In her constant protestations that she doesn’t deserve Ash, Aniri brings to mind Katniss and Peeta – minus the troubling racial aspects. In fact, Quinn flips that triangle on its head, as in this case it’s Aniri who’s richer and more privileged than her “pretend” lover.)

The steampunk elements are hella fun, too. From using steam-powered automatons as fencing partners to flying death ray/butterfly crystal blimps, Third Daughter is over-the-top and made for the big screen. I could easily picture this as a Bollywood movie. And I’d give anything to see a CGI version of the shashee. I bet they’re adorable, like a cross between a snuffaluffagus and a camel. Or maybe like a Bantha, minus the horns. Whatever. I must have a clockwork shashee, is what I’m saying! (Note to Susan Kaye Quinn: I’ll settle for an illustration in the next book!)

For all the nearly 350 pages, I can think of only one minor criticism: the fact that the Prince found the “assassin’s” rope but failed to connect it to Princess Aniri seems a rather obvious plot hole. (Her own bedsheets are clothing are in there!) As far as plot holes go, this one’s easily overlooked, and I’m loathe to hold it too strongly against Quinn.

In the Acknowledgements, Quinn reveals Third Daughter’s genesis as a contest entry on Rick Daley’s blog, The Public Query Slushpile: “given a vague premise, writers were asked to submit a query and the first five pages of a (fictitious) novel […] He posited (and I believe) that each author couldn’t help but craft something unique, even though they were starting with the same basic story construct (a military intrigue).” I think she more than succeeded with Third Daughter.

The first book in a planned trilogy, Third Daughter has a pretty awesome cliff-hanger ending, but also works well on its own. The next installments will be Second Daughter and First Daughter, respectively. I can’t wait to revisit the wondrous world Quinn created and learn more about Aniri’s sisters, who were introduced briefly (and with some pretty tasty tidbits) in Third Daughter.

Well done!

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)


Comments (May contain spoilers!)

Diversity: The first installment in Susan Kaye Quinn’s Bollywood-meets-steampunk (Bollypunk!) trilogy, The Dharian Affairs. All of the characters are Indian.


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One Response to “Book Review: Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs, Book One), Susan Kaye Quinn (2013)”

  1. Book Review: Second Daughter (The Dharian Affairs, Book Two), Susan Kaye Quinn (2014) » vegan daemon Says:

    […] Daughter picks up where Third Daughter left off, with Aniri and Ash’s return to his (soon to be their) Jungali mountain palace, where […]

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