Mahimata is a little more experimental than its predecessor


While Markswoman is tightly put together, Rati Mehrotra’s sequel novel Mahimata widens its scope and loses some of its spark for it.

It’s been a little more than a year since Rati Mehrotra stepped onto the scene with Markswoman. Much like its fellow March 5 release, The Belles: The Everlasting Rose, it expands its world further and asks much bigger questions of its protagonists, but where The Everlasting Rose holds on to its pacing, Mahimata is bigger than its predecessor in page count, too.

This is, in some ways, a good thing. The world of Asiana has all kinds of mysteries, and Mahimata answers some of the major questions without fully spelling everything you need to know out. At the same time, it also takes a long time to get to those answers, because Mehrotra splits up Kyra and Rustan for a significant portion of the book.

Now, Kyra and Rustan are good characters on their own, with Kyra in particular having a fantastic arc in this novel. However, since they’re apart, there’s no way to keep the book moving by just altering perspectives; they don’t have the same things to tackle.

Besides this, Mehrotra has a rich writing style, particularly when it comes to her characters’ interiority. Kyra and Rustan think, and they think often about how they’re feeling about anything and everything. In some ways, it’s pleasant to read, just because Rustan doesn’t get shortchanged for Kyra or vice-versa. At the same time, it does slow the book down further.

Ultimately, there’s a lot less action in this book as well. It’s primarily all saved for a final, massive confrontation, again split out into multiple perspectives. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means that there’s a meandering quality to it all, with only brief breaks of action. It’s a shift from Markswoman, where Kyra only just becomes an official member of the Order of Kali, although Mahimata makes the argument that even though Kyra has risen to more power, she still has things to learn and understand.

This brings it back to the expansion of the world that’s almost inherent in a sequel. Kyra continues to have her worldview challenged, particularly when it comes to how other Orders in Asiana operate and even the world that she shares with others. Some of these expansions don’t make as much sense as others do, particularly when it comes to the weapons that Kyra, Rustan, and the Orders are facing. We won’t say which ones make sense, though, because that could be construed as a spoiler.

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But, to conclude, let’s talk about the ending. It’s a little weird, to put it nicely, but it doesn’t feel like it’s leaving anything open. As far as Goodreads says, there’s not a third book in the works, and even though this ending is strange, it settles Kyra and Rustan’s story in its own way. No epilogues are necessary. It’s just an ending.

Slow though it may be, Mahimata still satisfies. It’s on sale now wherever books are sold.