26 April 2015

Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn

Hey everyone,

Continuing with my challenge to read all the books in my TBR pile I picked up Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn this weekend.  An Indian-set Steampunk Romance that was released sometime in 2013. Arguably Steampunk has lessened in popularity since its hurray last year, however, this is still a genre I love to read.

The book:

Skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue... and, of course, kissing.

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she'll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince's proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince's proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the The Dharian Affairs Trilogy. This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood romance takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world.

My thoughts:

Told exclusively from the viewpoint of Aniri or the Third Daughter of the Queen as she is also known Third Daughter is an exciting adventure across an alternative India. Although clearly a steampunk novel I felt it relied more on concepts of political and social intrigue. Probably because the majn conflict in the book revolves around the political, economic and military strife between the countries of Dharia, Samirian and Jungali. It is in fact the tenuous relationship between Jungali and Dharia that leads to Aniri arranged marriage.

“He bowed his head, a deference she was sure was meant to mock her. “My lady misunderstands my message. The barbarian prince has made an offer of peace. In exchange for your hand”.

Aniri is forced to choose between a marriage of convenience that could save her people and a marriage to her love Devesh, an Samirian courtier. Showing a surprising amount of bravery and nobility considering her apparent dislike of all things political and her mother, Aniri chooses an arranged marriage to the Jungali Prince Ash with the intention of spying on him. This is merely the start to a plot with lots of twists and turns, some expected and others less so. I loved watching Aniri’s development as a character from selfish princess to selfless leader willing to sacrifice her own happiness and safety for her people.

“I know you have a lover at home. I knew as we left Dharia that this would be hard for you, and yet you’ve done nothing but help make this peace arrangement work. I thought it would be hardest on you, this arrangement. But I was wrong. I think it’s going to be much harder on me”.

As common in the Steampunk romance genre I did feel that the romance element took a back sit to the action and political intrigue, yet I still enjoyed reading about Aniri, Ash and Devesh etc. The characters were interesting enough in themselves to hold my attention. Part of me wished Susan Kaye Quinn would have given has more time with Ash, the Prince of Jungali as I would have found it interesting to explore his character in more detail. A‘barbarian’ prince who reads love poetry in spare time. 

Yet despite the intriguing world-building, the nuances in culture and the action-pack plot I struggled to give this book more than three stars. This is mainly due to the ending. Going into the Third Daughter I knew it was part of a trilogy, however, I believed each book focused on a different daughter due to their titles. Unfortunately for me, since finishing this book I discovered that we still follow Aniri through the remaining two stories, although her sisters do appear to play a more crucial role.

My issue with this is two fold. Firstly I feel like Aniri story is complete, her development  as a character and her HEA have been achieved. Secondly considering this is a trilogy the ending felt rushed. To me it felt like Susan Kaye Quinn was hurrying to make sure multiple loose ends where tied up, partly to do with Aniri and Ash’s relationship. Perhaps I’m wrong about the following two books and they do focus more heavily on the other sisters but at the moment I feel a little let-down by the ending of Third Daughter.

My rating:
Happy reading everyone and see you next time!