Audiobook Review: The Chariot at Dusk by Swati Teerdhala

A queen at last. An empty palace. A kingdom to save.

Esha is reeling from Kunal’s betrayal, but she has a kingdom to rule from behind a thin smokescreen—pretending to be Princess Reha while she sends her most trusted soldiers to collect Reha and Kunal by any means necessary. Traitors, after all, must be punished.

But the Yavar are attacking from every front—tracking down Kunal and Reha in the remote mountains, kidnapping Harun—in search of legendary artifacts that will give them the power to break the precarious janma bond and release the destructive magic back into the lands.

Now that the race is on to find the missing artifacts, Esha must put aside her rage and work with Kunal again—but can she find the strength to forgive him, or will the Viper have her revenge at any cost? 

Another desi fantasy trilogy comes to an end. I probably don’t consider this series to be one of my all time favorites, but I can’t deny it’s been fun to read so far, so I was pretty interested to see how it was gonna end.

I’m not exactly sure what I’m feeling after finishing the book. I don’t think it’s disappointment, because I didn’t go in with much expectations in the first place. But I guess I still wanted more, and it just ended up being ok. The plot was just interesting enough, pacing quite fast which was probably why I even finished it pretty quickly, and it was definitely aided by a very well narrated audiobook. However, it wasn’t engaging enough and every time I put it down, I wasn’t dying to pick it back up. The events that took place felt repetitive at times – the build up about the reforging of the Janma bond being such an essential part of the first two books – and while it was still the most significant part of this finale, it didn’t feel like such an ominous task anymore, and once the book was over, it just felt very anticlimactic.

The characters also didn’t seem to have left much of a mark on me, and I really missed that intense chemistry between Esha and Kunal from the first book, which is what hooked me onto this series. While the tension between the two was palpable, it also felt annoying at times and the resolution of their issues was too simplistic. The bit of love triangle scare we got also didn’t endear me much. Princess Reha, who was such an imposing but invisible presence in the first two books, couldn’t wow me with her existence this time around. I could obviously empathize with her struggles because she was thrust into a significant role suddenly and her entire life was upended, but we never got to see how she reconciled her feelings with the expectations put upon her, and that was a miss. I think the best part was just the camaraderie between all the characters and how well they worked together, and I’m glad they managed to keep me wanting to read more.

In the end, this finale was not particularly surprising or thrilling, but it was an overall fine conclusion. The audiobook is definitely the way to go because I loved how well the narrator was able to convey the emotions of the characters. And despite whatever gripes I have with the way this story ended, I’m glad to have a YA desi fantasy trilogy inspired by medieval India in existence and I can only hope I’ll get to read wonderful stories by the author in the future.

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