cover image The Ivory Key (The Ivory Key #1)

The Ivory Key (The Ivory Key #1)

Akshaya Raman. Clarion, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-358-46833-2

Four royals bound by blood but not loyalty meet in a tangle of conflicting agendas in the Indian-inspired world of Raman’s debut, a duology opener. In the Ashokan empire, magic is a physical resource, hauled up from a quarry to protect the realm from its enemies and drive the economy through exportation. Even with this asset, however, the empire’s ruling family has fallen into internal chaos: the previous maharani was murdered, the original quarries have long been lost, and Ashoka’s young scions are at each other’s throats. Eighteen-year-old Vira, the newly crowned maharani, needs to tighten her hold on the throne in the face of impending war; her twin brother Ronak is dabbling in illegal acts; their traitorous 17-year-old sister, Riya, has joined the Ravens, rebels who seek to depose Vira; and their half brother Kaleb lies in prison, accused of the murder. But when the magic begins to run out, the siblings must reunite to obtain a shared goal: the Ivory Key, a legendary artifact supposed to unlock the lost quarries. Though rapid perspective shifts between the siblings can produce a sense of disjointedness, characterization remains largely solid, as does the richly described worldbuilding, tight plot, and moderate doses of romance, making for a complex and layered narrative. Ages 12–up. Agent: Hillary Jacobson, ICM Partners. (Jan.)