Ready for your next epic fantasy obsession? Orbit is thrilled to announce the acquisition of The Phoenix King by debut author Aparna Verma! The first in a trilogy blazing with mystic fire, political intrigue, and forbidden romance, The Phoenix King follows an assassin who is more than what he seems and a princess with everything to lose as they contend with a prophecy that could remake the world. Set in a kingdom where ancient sands hold ancient secrets and cities are built by flame and blood, full of characters who struggle to find their power even as the burdens of inheritance and legacy become too much to bear, this series is not to be missed!
The Phoenix King was previously self-published as The Boy with Fire in August 2021. Orbit’s newly revised and edited edition—complete with its new title!—will be coming to shelves in summer 2023. Orbit US senior editor Priyanka Krishnan acquired world English rights from Lucienne Diver at The Knight Agency. Orbit UK editorial director Jenni Hill secured UK rights.
Read on for a few words from author Aparna Verma about what inspired this incredible story:
“When writing The Phoenix King, I drew inspiration from the grand Hindu epics—particularly the stories of the goddess Kali Ma. She has often been misconstrued as a vengeful, bloodthirsty deity by Western storytellers and media. But she is so much more than that. Kali Ma does not fit in the simple boxes of good and evil; in fact, she transcends both. Her multidimensionality inspired the female characters in the book, and the reigning goddess in my story.
I also drew inspiration from my lovely home state of Rajasthan. Rajasthan has a long history as a seat of Indian royalty, including the Rajput kings. Said to be made of earth and fire, the Rajputs were fiercely proud and loyal, a quality that’s shared among the nobility of The Phoenix King—for better and for worse.
But most of all, I found inspiration in the Rajasthani desert. I’ve always felt a deep connection to the desert and all of its mysterious secrets. It’s hard not to be awed by, and afraid of, the power of the sands.
Altogether, The Phoenix King is a homage to my Indian roots, but it is also an examination of faith and fate: the invisible forces that have dictated our gods and ourselves.”
Aparna Verma was born in India and immigrated with her family to the United States when she was two years old. She graduated from Stanford University with Honors in the Arts and a B.A. in English. The Phoenix King is her first novel. When she is not writing, Aparna likes to ride horses, dance to Bollywood music, and find old cafes in which to read myths about forgotten worlds.