Aniri is the third daughter of the queen and awaiting her eighteenth birthday so that she can marry for love, unlike her to older sisters. She has a drive to live life and experience the world outside of the confining walls of the palace. Aniri is forced to put her plans on hold when the Queen asks her to consider an arranged political marriage to Prince to a barbarian prince because intelligence has revealed that his realm has developed a new flying ship which would the Jungali a great military advantage. Aniri is caught can she put the needs of her country over her personal wants and desires?
I have to say that the minute I saw this book, I was absolutely compelled to read it. A Bollywood style steampunk, how could I resist. I am happy to say that The Third Daughter most certainly didn't disappoint. While the basis for this story is a romance, there is so much more at play. Quinn includes political intrigue and technological advancement (as all good steampunks should). I love reading a steampunk that moved away from a Eurocentric setting and featured solely people of colour.
Aniri at times I must admit is irritating. She is spoiled, reckless and is fairly rippling with spunky agency. I would have found this far more problematic had she been older than 17 when this novel started. For instance, Aniri sees the Jugali as barbarians because they eat with their hands. Having never traveled outside of a limited circle, her views are informed by others. It's not until she begins to interact with the people and learn about their culture that she learns that different isn't backward or savage. She doesn't even realise that having the ability to ignore the intrigue at court is a sign of her privilege and youth. To Quinn's credit, we do see Aniri evolve over the book and it is made clear that as this series evolves, Aniri will continue to mature. This is the necessary path for a YA protagonist.
All of the female characters in this novel are extremely strong. The Queen constantly puts the need of her people over and above herself. Further, though she does not remarry after the death of her children's father, the Queen liberally takes lovers of her choosing. Yes, her people are important to her but she also wants her needs fulfilled.. I love that Dharian society is matriarchal and that this never becomes an issue. The Queen rules because she has the right to rule and though her leadership is questioned by her allies, it's never because of her gender.