I am going to be honest, this wasn’t a book that I was excited for at first. Why? Because usually books written about people of color by white people are full of generalizations, half-truths and no respect for their history, culture or worldviews. Feel free to argue this but any person of color will likely tell you the same. Anyway, that was the main reason I was hesitant to pick up Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn, the first of a trilogy.
Third Daughter tells the story of Aniri, who is the third daughter in line for the throne of the Queendom of Dharia, which means her royal responsibilities are pretty lax. She has no chance of being queen so she focuses more on fencing and climbing than she does politics and learning how to be a member of the court. And she shouldn’t have to, she’ll be eighteen in two weeks and that means freedom from her mother’s court, she can marry for love (hopefully to a young courtesan named Devesh) and she can search out the scum that killed her father all those years ago. She’ll have nothing to do with her mother or her court.
But one night, after Princess Aniri sneaks out to meet Devesh she discovers that a war may be brewing between Dharia and the barbarian kingdom to the north, Jungali. Not only that but the Prince of Jungali has asked for her hand in marriage. It’s happiness or peace between the two countries, what is Aniri to choose?
Overall Score: 4/5⭐⭐⭐⭐
I was actually quite surprised by this novel. Unlike many others that fit into the category of being about people of color written by a white person, this wasn’t full of stereotypes and other offensive generalizations. Perhaps it is because the novel is set in a fantasy world but Quinn did a good job. On her journey into enemy territory Aniri is forced to realize that she does not know a good deal of the truth and when secrets hit close to home, she has to decide who to trust when the only ones around are her flirtatious handmaiden and her royal bodyguard. She goes into Jungali considering herself to be a spy, someone who can save her people from whatever Jungali has planned and then return home before her birthday but Prince Ash isn’t the barbarian she always believed the Jungali to be, he truly seems to want peace. But can she trust that? Or should she trust Devesh, the lover who never wanted her to leave? And can she trust the mother who let her father die without ever once looking for his killers? We see Aniri travel a road of lies, deceit and half-truths until she discovers that not everyone is what they seem and some things truly are too good to be true, even for a princess.
The action scenes are beautifully written, the tension and movements are fluid and believable.
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