Title: The Rose & the Dagger
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #2
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy, Romance, Retelling
Format: Purchased Hardcover
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.
As this is a sequel there may be spoilers!
This second book was full of a heightened sense of urgency, of magic, of love, forgiveness, friendship, and more. I honestly enjoyed this sequel more than the first book and I think that it was a really great wrap up to this duology.
The plot starts right after the events of the first book after everything has pretty much gone to hell after a magic storm that Jahandar cooked up in order to “save” Shazi. Everything is in ruin and while Khalid works to restore the city and look for Shazi, she’s in a Badawi encampment being kept there for her own safety as well as Khalid’s. It continues to show more of the magic in this world because we got just the barest glimpse of it in the first book, as well as how Shazi’s magic actually works.
There is a lot of mystery surrounding several of the characters, and plenty of romance to drink in. I thought that, the plot itself, was a solid one, driving each of the characters into the next course of action that needed to be taken in order to break the curse over Khalid and Khorasan, as well as other opposing forces in the story.
I will say, though, that I thought the threat of danger wasn’t as immediate in this book as it was in the first. Yes, there were still threats and still concerns that had to be addressed, but otherwise I thought that it was more of a story of action than of danger. It didn’t take away from the story at all, but there was a difference in tone between the first and second books given the circumstances.
Shahrzad is as strong willed and silver tongued as ever in this book, and I kind of really missed that. I forgot how she can have such witty banter and come up with such awesome insults on the fly:
A rush of blood heated her cheeks. “If I had a fireball, I’d send it straight between your legs. But I worry there would be little to burn.”
OH SNAP. That part made me laugh quite loudly. But aside from that, she still uses her mind and her resources around her to get where she needs to go and do what needs to be done. I thought that her relationship with her sister, though strained at times, was still one that I could see the true love from them in. Shazi really cares for Irsa, even if she doesn’t reveal many things to her because she views Irsa as a child still. Through the many ups and downs and revelations, though, Shazi remains strong and brave. She’s a really amazing heroine, in my opinion.
Khalid is just as temperamental as ever, but we get to see a much more human side of him than we have before. We see him helping to rebuild his city and him trying his best to look out for those around him because he doesn’t want to shed any more unnecessary innocent blood. His love for Shazi is beautiful and I loved reading the moments with them together because they so perfectly reflect one another so well. I thought that he was a strong character, like usual, though he fought with a lot more conviction now that he has something to fight for. And we got to see him with some of his military skills, which was pretty strategic and cool.
Irsa, I think, was a welcome sigh of relief when it came to this story. As Shazi’s younger sister, you would think she would be a little more headstrong and quick to act, but I felt that she was very mature for her age in some of the ways she acted and how she responded in certain situations. She was very knowledgeable on medicinal herbs and her love for her sister was very strong, though she knew that Shazi would lie to her constantly to protect her. Irsa was a welcome surprise and I thought the interactions between her and Rahim were so adorable.
Tariq was just as angry as he was in the last book when it came to him thinking about Khalid, and he acted with a blind heart instead of an open mind on more than one occasion, causing something almost terrible to happen to Shazi. Even though he and Khalid had an altercation, an understanding on Tariq’s part happened and I think that’s when he became a more agreeable character after that. Though he still reacted on pure guts than brains, I thought he did his best in the situations handed to him.
Jahandar, I thought, was trying to do so many things for the wrong reasons and I was so mad he seemed to care more about his book than his daughters. He tricked and lied, and he did it with the best intentions, but I think the gift he gave in the end was fitting and right.
We didn’t have as much Despina or Jalal at all in this book, which made me very sad because they’re two of my favorites, but there was still an interaction with them that made me smile at the end.
There was fighting, blood, worry, curses, magic, and more in this book and I thought that it did very well for a conclusion, for sure. And I just want you to know that I ALMOST CRIED at one part – like, there was a tear and everything – because holy carp was it sad and OH THE FEELS. Renee Ahdieh’s writing is very beautiful, just like the last, and will capture you with lush details and exquisite settings, sprinkled with awesome banter.
I rated this book 4.5/5 stars.
My duology review: 4.25/5 stars