Title: The Rose & the Dagger
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #2
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publication: April 26th 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retellings, Romance
Pages: 420 pages
Format: Library book
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.
While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
Shelf it on Goodreads
So here’s the alphabetical run down:
Ahdieh writes some of the best, most well developed, diverse in personality characters of any author. There are too many to discuss them all and you leave the book feeling like you know them. Shahrzad is one of my favorite main characters. Ever. In TRATD she continues to be passionate and stubborn and command attention everywhere she goes. Ahdieh doesn’t have to tell us that she is fit to be queen, you can tell by the way her character jumps off the page.
The way that Khalid is written, somehow you understand his temper, his rage, and his love for Shahrzad and respect him for all of it. I’ve never been one to like violent characters, but his violence is never without reason and you feel his fierce protectiveness of the ones he loves in all of his actions.
In this book we are introduced to Shazi’s younger sister, Irsa, who had a very different personality than Shazi, but grows and comes into her own as a character throughout the book.
There are a host of other characters: Tariq, Rahim, Shazi’s father Jahandar, and a new character named Artem who’s just wonderful. One of the things I respect most about Ahdieh’s writing is that she knows exactly who her characters are and their decisions throughout the story reflect who they are in a very consistent manner. There’s never a time where I question whether a character really would have made a certain decision, and that makes the story “believable” in a way that is important when you’re reading fantasy.
I think both books in this series have amazing, beautiful covers. The detail that the cutouts look like roses and daggers is just perfect. Most of the time I don’t enjoy cover models, but this one is obviously hidden behind a “screen.” Even on the inside of the book where there is a full color picture of her, the model was chosen wisely and closely resembles how I picture Shahrzad.
In case you were unaware, this series is a duology, not a trilogy, and this book is the conclusion of the story. I applaud Ahdieh for not stretching the story just to make a trilogy when two books were not just sufficient, but perfect. Both were filled with action and romance, and this one included quite a few betrayals and some very interesting surprises. I am sad that I don’t get to live in Shazi and Kahlid’s magical world for longer, but that is my one and only complaint.
The Rose & the Dagger was completely unpredictable. I never knew where the story was going and was never sure what was going to happen next, which made it even more fun to read.
“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.”
“Do not make me beg you. Because I won’t. I’ll merely lose my temper or cry. And I have always secretly despised those who cry to needle their objectives. But if you force me to do it, Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, I will. And I cry beautifully.”
“No. He was not here to wreak revenge.
For revenge was trifling and hollow.
No. He was not here to retrieve his wife.
For his wife was not a thing to be retrieved.
No. He was not here to negotiate a truce.
For a truce suggested he wished to compromise.
He was here to burn something to the ground.”
“Be the beginning and the end, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran.” A flare of light burst to life across the way. “Be stronger than everything around you.”
I can’t express just how beautiful Ahdieh’s writing is! If you haven’t read The Wrath & the Dawn, you must pick it up and will surely have to finish the series once you start. This is definitely one of my new favorites!