HarperVoyager has triumphed in a five-way auction for a “Mauryan Empire-inspired epic fantasy” debut The Prince Without Sorrow by Maithree Wijesekara.  

Recently crowned Editor of the Year Natasha Bardon, publisher for HarperVoyager and Magpie Books, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, for the debut trilogy from Maddy Belton at the Madeleine Milburn Agency following a bidding war between five publishers. The first book in the Obsidian Throne series, The Prince Without Sorrow, will be published in 2025.

The novel is loosely inspired by origins of the historical Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty of ancient India. It features Shakti, a witch capable of raising the dead and communing with nature spirits, and a young Ashoka, an outcast prince who wants nothing to do with his father’s violent reign. “It heralds the start of a thrilling fantasy series full of morally grey characters, vengeful witches and a dash of queer romance that charts Ashoka’s rise to emperor,” HarperVoyager said. The publisher dubbed it “Mauryan Empire-inspired epic fantasy”.

Wijesekara said of her debut: “This is a story born from my intrigue with the historical Emperor Ashoka and my desire to create a complete reimagining of his violent rise to power in a fantasy world. I am so thrilled to have The Prince Without Sorrow find a home at HarperVoyager, and I’m excited to work with the team to bring Ashoka and Shakti’s stories to readers and have them come to love these chaotic, messy characters the way that I do.”  

Belton said: “In The Prince Without Sorrow, Maithree has crafted a richly imagined world, glittering with opulence and full of winged serpents, giant leopards and haunting spirits. Political and violent, this is a book that asks what power means and whether it is ever worth sacrificing your beliefs for the greater good; it will make you gasp, ignite your fury, and leave you desperate for more. I love it dearly and I am so pleased to have found it a home with Natasha and the formidable HarperVoyager team. I can’t wait for readers to be ensnared by Maithree’s shudder-inducing writing, just as I was.” 

Bardon said: “I’m so delighted we get to publish this phenomenal novel. The world is beautifully crafted, the characters rich and full, and readers will be on the edge of their seats. I couldn’t believe this was a debut when I read it. Maithree is exceptionally talented.”