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.
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
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.
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.
“Ashok K. Banker is a pioneer of modern Indian fantasy, retelling the country's classic mythology fables. Upon a Burning Throne has been called "the Indian Game of Thrones." [W]ith depictions of sweeping mountain ranges, vast deserts, lush forests and cities full of colorful people, it's a vividly evocative journey. [For] those looking for something a bit more substantial, a story that promises a grand and epic scale exploring a non-Western culture in a vivid setting, Upon a Burning Throne is ideal.”
—Los Angeles Times
"[A] sweeping and compelling epic, in which gods, demigods, strange powers, seers, and just plain humans all struggle for power and to make sense out their lives and fate in a world where one is never sure anything is either certain or what it appears to be.”
—L.E. Modesitt, Jr. bestselling author of the Saga of Recluce and the Imager Portfolio"[An] epic fantasy world full of constantly warring tribes, matriarchal societies, powerful sages that pop out of lakes, and the gods and goddesses very close to all the action. In this rich environment, various perspectives from the vast cast of characters are used to tell this immersive story from the internationally best-selling Banker”
—Booklist, starred review
"Readers will hardly be able to pull themselves away from the layered story lines and well-developed characters. . .set in a vivid world inspired by India and the Middle East, mythology and monarchy, filled with enticing narration and action." —Library Journal, starred review
“Ambitious and highly readable . . . 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 . . . Fans of doorstopper epic fantasy will devour this tale of gods and princes.”
"Upon A Burning Throne is a tale told with masterful control over the narrative. The pace never slackens and the story is never offered up at the altar of world-building details. Upon A Burning Throne is undoubtedly a compelling read—it is one of those 'on-the-edge-of-your-seat' novels which keeps the reader hooked on right till the end. I would, therefore, recommend it to all lovers of fiction.”
—A Hindu's View
You have selected a product that is available for purchase only by a customer with an Educational Institution account. If you have an Educational Institution account, please sign out and sign back in using an Educational Institution account email address and password.
For inquiries concerning bulk purchases for corporate use, sales incentives, or nonprofit sales, please email our Special Sales department at TradeSales@hmhco.com.