Title: The Rose and the Dagger
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, #2
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 26th 2016
The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as “a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance.”
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
After finishing The Wrath and the Dawn last year The Rose and the Dagger became one of my most anticipated releases for the first half of this year. I was so excited to get my hands on this book because after the way The Wrath and the Dawn ended I felt the second book was open to so many possibilities as to where Renee Ahdieh could take Khalid’s and Shahrzad’s story. This book didn’t disappoint; though it was slow to start soon I was hooked and didn’t want to put it down until I’d reached the end.
In the wake of the storm that hit Rey both Khalid and Shahrzad finds themselves lost. Khalid is left with his people struggling to move on, to build and clean the wreckage left behind. Still bearing the weight of the curse Khalid doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t dream, and he doesn’t know how to help his people heal. Meanwhile his relationships with the people closest to him seem to be slipping away and he is left struggling to bear the weight of what he’s going through alone
Meanwhile hiding out in the middle of the desert in the middle of an army Shahrzad is facing her own struggles. As the bride of the murderous Caliph there is no one Shahrzad can turn to amongst the men who want him dead and no one she trusts. Shahrzad walks a dangerous line, knowing there is nowhere else safe for her sister and her father, who is still from the magic he cast, but still determined to help Khalid from afar. Shahrzad relies on Tariq to keep her safe, stays by his side to present a united front, but she doesn’t trust him, she can’t trust anyone with what she plans to do.
She wants to find a cure for her husband’s curse and she is willing to travel far and wide to find it, to make deals with powerful creatures and bargain with deadlier ones. However for Khalid and Shahrzad finding a way to break the curse is only the first part of the problem and not the biggest obstacle they have to face. War is brewing and Khalid has made many enemies when he took daughters and sisters as his brides only to kill them the following dawn. Shahrzad soon finds herself amongst Khalid’s enemies, fighting to get back to his side once more.
Shahrzad is a stubborn and determined character, like in the first book she remains absolute and headstrong. While she starts off unsure of her path and what she needs to do to help Khalid when she has a direction, a path to walk, she follows it to the end with no faltering or doubts. As much as I loved Khalid and Shahrzad together and their relationship with one another I loved seeing Shahrzad grow on her own as a character as well as seeing her relationships outside of the one with her husband and his family.
Khalid at times seemed somewhat less at times in this story. In The Wrath and the Dawn he was a force to be reckoned with, sure of his world and what he needed to do to keep his people safe, but after the storm that hit Rey he seems lost as he struggles to help his people the only way he can. He’s lost Shahrzad and his relationship with his cousin fractures, he seems to lose everyone he could confide in in the space of a few days.
One of my favourite parts of The Wrath and the Dawn was Khalid’s and Shahrzad’s relationship and that remains the same in The Rose and the Dagger. The two of them work well together, although they seek to help and protect the other it is never a stifling kind of protection. They are willing to face down any enemy, any threat, as long as the other is at their side. Seeing Khalid and Shahrzad together it is easy to see why are they drawn to one another, and why they work as a couple. Khalid allows Shahrzad room to grow as a person, to see where her ideas will take her, but he knows she will always return to his side again.
Tariq is a complex character, there were parts of his story I loved but aspects of his character I disliked. He has a hard time letting go of Shahrzad and a harder time accepting her feelings for Khalid knowing what he has done to all his previous brides; his feelings blinded him on more than one occasion to what was happening around him. However his moral compass is in the right place and when it comes down to it Tariq stands by what he believes is right.
I really loved seeing Shahrzad’s relationship with her sister and father. It was something that wasn’t developed at all in the first book, for an obvious reason, so I loved seeing it in this story. Shahrzad’s sister Irsa is more contained and less confident than Shahrzad but she doesn’t feel overshadowed by her older sister. Irsa is her own person and she proves that she is capable of helping Shahrzad if her sister trusts her with the truth. Her father is a complicated character, made more so by the hold the book has over him, but beneath his actions he is truly trying to do the best for his daughters, he just became blind to what that actually was.
Whereas the first book was set primarily in Rey The Rose and the Dagger showed us so much more of the world rather than just Khalid’s city. We see the heart of the desert where the rebels are amassing their forces, preparing for a war against the Caliph, we see Amardha where Khalid’s uncle rules and plots against his nephew, we see the Fire Temple where Shahrzad meets with Artan and Musa each evening to try and gain some understanding to her magic and Khalid’s curse. Even though certain places were only touched upon they were still well built. We saw a lot more of the magic that exists in this world. There was more discovered about the curse as Shahrzad, and later Khalid, looked for a way to break it and we saw the magic that Shahrzad and her father both have. Like in The Wrath and the Dawn I think my favourite aspect were the stories with Shahrzad wove, taking the myths and legends of her world and sharing them with us.
I thought The Rose and the Dagger was a perfect ending to the duology and a perfect ending to Khalid’s and Shahrzad’s story. While I would like to see a spin-off or companion novel released one day, I feel there are a few characters with stories left to tell, I like the way this book left Khalid and Shahrzad and I wouldn’t change any part of the journey they took to get there.
What did you think of The Rose and the Dagger? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.