Book Review: First Daughter (The Dharian Affairs, Book Three), Susan Kaye Quinn (2014)

November 24th, 2014 12:46 pm by Kelly Garbato

A Satisfying Conclusion to The Dharian Affairs Trilogy

five out of five stars

At the conclusion of Second Daughter (Book #2 in The Dharian Affairs trilogy), Princess Aniri is about to marry her sweetheart Ash – the so-called “barbarian” Prince of Jungali – when her world is torn apart. Literally.

Commandeered by the rogue Second Son of Samir, the skyship known as The Dagger flies over Bhakti, raining death and destruction down upon the Jungali capital. Aniri is knocked unconscious, right there on the temple doorstep where she and Ash are to be wed. During her downtime, a small army of Samirian raksakas free the Samirian prisoners; kidnap Ash, as well as Aniri’s just-rescued sister, Princess Seledri, and Seledri’s husband Pavan, the First Son of Samir; and attempt to assassinate Aniri’s mother, the Queen of Dharia. War is imminent, and the Daughters of Dharia are not willing to surrender their crowns and countries to the power-hungry madman Natesh.

But with the Queen of Dharia more or less out of commission, it’s up to Aniri and her oldest sister Nahali to procure peace and (hopefully) liberate the kidnapped royals. Unfortunately, Aniri and Nahali haven’t always seen eye to eye; with disparate upbringings, loyalties, and expectations, the sisters are sure to butt heads. While Nahali readies the Dharian navy for war, Aniri sneaks into Samir in hopes of fomenting a civil war amongst its people, whose allegiances are split between the First and Second Sons of Samir.

With a little help from allies, both old and new – her treacherous Samirian lover, Devesh; her estranged father, who escaped Natesh’s underground dungeons; Mistress Tinker Riva and her band of Free Tinkers; Ash’s Jungali spy, the charming and handsome Akash; and of course Janak, her mother’s faithful and hopelessly (or maybe not?) smitten raksaka – Aniri hopes to avoid war altogether and secure a lasting peace between Dharia, Samir, and Jungali. Yet with rumors of an entire skyship armada running rampant, are the sisters’ missions doomed before they even begin?

First Daughter is a satisfying conclusion to The Dharian Affairs trilogy – I’ve come to expect nothing less of Susan Kaye Quinn! A rollicking fun ride, it’s filled to the brim with action and adventure – to which the tortured romance between Aniri and Ash takes a welcome back seat. (Don’t worry, though; the lovers get their happy ending!) Quinn continued to both surprise me and keep me glued firmly to the edge of my seat; at multiple times, I thought for sure that the primary plot line was about to be resolved – and at that exact moment is when the author threw in yet another twist. Those who loved the political intrigue, feats and exploits, and steampunk elements of the previous two books will not be disappointed.

I especially loved the interactions between Aniri and her older, “colder” sister Nahali. Groomed from birth to become the Queen of Dharia, on the surface the First and Third Daughters of Dharia couldn’t be more different. Whereas Aniri is impetuous and prone to bouts of uncertainly and public displays of unchecked emotion, Nahali is the opposite: regal, sophisticated, calculating – but with a brilliant tactical mind and a love of mechanics. But both women are driven by the desire to protect those they love, whether it’s friends, family, or state. While the book’s synopsis hints that Nahali may become the story’s female Natesh, thankfully this couldn’t be further from the truth: with her mother incapacitated by an assassin’s bullet, Nahali temporarily assumes her position, but with no devious plans to usurp the Queen’s power. Watching the sisters’ complicated and sometimes ambivalent relationship evolve throughout the story is a real treat.

Since both Nahali and Seledri are “with child,” Quinn gets bonus points for depicting pregnant women as strong, capable, and tenacious – neither woman is a damsel in distress, even in her “delicate” state.

While the story is both entertaining and gratifying, my favorite part came at the end: not with Aniri and Ash’s wedding, but rather Quinn’s back matter announcement that she’s not yet ready to let the sun set on this awesome Bollypunk ‘verse she’s created. In the works for 2016 is a new trilogy, set in the same world as The Dharian Affairs, centered around Mistress Tinker Riva (and supposedly her hunky new beau, Akash). Yay!

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


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