The Library of Fates: Review
When I first encountered The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana, I was so intrigued. Not only is it a standalone novel, it incorporates elements of Hindu mythology and historical fiction. I expected an intricate tale that weaved together history and mythology- with a library as its central focus, since that was in the very title! Unfortunately, what I read was a rushed, romance-driven story with very little plot.
No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough.
The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.
Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?
I should preface this review by saying that I was still mildly intrigued by the first quarter of the book. Khorana's description of Shalingar was beautiful, a prosperous and peaceful kingdom touched by mysticism and beauty. We meet Amrita, an independent and strong princess who is being dressed to the nines to welcome Sikander, a conqueror of renown, to her home. He brings Thala, an oracle that is kept as a slave, to bestow upon Amrita as a gift of goodwill. This is the start of an unlikely friendship that gets the story moving.
I did not care for Amrita or Thala, though we follow these two young women for most of the book. There were several plot twists in The Library of Fates, which I'm not going to go into because of spoilers, but none of the plot twists created tension for me. None of them caused me to gasp out loud or worry for Amrita and Thala. The plot twists seemed to always work out in Amrita's favor and because the source of conflict in the book was so weak, I didn't empathize with Amrita or feel emotionally attached to her at all.
As the story went on, the decisions that these two young women became more and more questionable, which didn't make sense to me because Thala was presented to us as a wise oracle. When Amrita and Thala make the decision to try to change their fates, it is done hastily and impulsively. Their course of action is questionable, and the results from this action are all too convenient.
There were several moments with huge potential. One of them is when Amrita and Thala meet the Sybillines, the descendants of the vetalas and Diviners, and keepers of a potent substance that Sikander wants for himself. This substance is the reason he comes to Shalingar, yet it is barely explored. These people are infinitely wise and could have been portrayed as a parallel to the earthly conflicts of the world outside- but we get only a single chapter with them and they disappear.
The romance had potential to be deep and bone-tingling. Instead, all of the romance in this book was insta-love and could have been easily discarded subplots. That's the thing about The Library of Fates- there were too many things going on without enough buildup for the reader to feel satisfied.
Oh, and the library mentioned in the title? Don't hold your breath. It's mentioned sparsely throughout the book and we get only a few pages that take place in the library. It was an incredible disappointment. This was the one thing that Khorana actually did built up throughout the book, but with a lackluster resolution.
I rate The Library of Fates 2/5 stars.