Saturday, May 28

Renée Ahdieh - The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

“The best way to go about flying is to cut the strings tying you down... Cut the strings, Shazi. Fly."

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.



Spoiler alert...

I've been waiting for this book ever since I read The Wrath and the Dawn- and may I tell you it was an excruciatingly painful wait? The first book ended on such a cliffhanger that I couldn't get past it for a long, long time. This waiting period has been... weird. While at first I was completely blown over by the book, by and by I came across some shockingly negative reviews that I began questioning my thoughts about the book to the point where I was even thinking that maybe I should have been more critical and not let myself be so bowled over by the feels. I know it's stupid to let myself be so influenced, especially after I loved the book so much- but that just goes on to show how none of us is as immune to others' opinions as we'd like to think we are.. 

So to say that I was wary about this book would be an understatement. Thankfully,  The Rose and the Dagger managed to remind me exactly what I loved about it's original and I couldn't have asked for more.

“As always. As ever. As a rose to the sun.” 

Just like it was for me with The Wrath and the Dawn, I'm faced with the teeny tiny problem where I'm not sure how I should go about writing this review and I find it really daunting. However, unlike then, now I'm going to keep  it simple and will just list down what I loved and what I didn't in this brilliant follow-up. 

What worked for me: 

🌹 The plot was less angsty and had a lighter feel to it overall, but in no way did that make me enjoy it any lesser. In fact, this helped the romance take back seat while other aspects could be given importance. There was never a dull moment in the novel and everything was tied up perfectly. The author has sure delivered everything we could have ever expected from a sequel with her usual brilliance. 

“A trickle of blood slid down his arm.
He felt nothing. He only saw it.
Because nothing hurt like missing her.
He suspected nothing ever would” 

🌹 Shahrzad and Khalid were so, so good. They were truly perfect together and are, without doubt, my OTP of the year so far. Fans of Shazi and Khalid will get a lot to swoon over after they get together (they were separated at the end of the first book), and thankfully that didn't take as long as I feared it would. 

“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.” 


🌹 I really liked the fact that the author managed to bring to light other sides to their already dynamic personalities. Shazi was strong and kickass- even more than she was in the last book- and Khalid revealed more facets of his character which I really, really loved reading about. He cared so much for Shazi while giving her all due respect and was also a true leader who put his country above everything else. What's not to like about such a guy?

“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.” 

🌹 There were a lot of new characters, some complex and some not so complex, and I have nothing to complain about in that department. I was pretty happy with the way the author dealt with the relationships too. Shazi and Irsa (her sister- a lovely, strong character) shared a very special bond together, and it was really heartwarming to see Khalid and Irsa getting to know each other- this guy would never fail to surprise you!


🌹 Shazi's father, Jahandar, was a surprisingly erm, surprising character. We got to see him in a whole different light in this book and trust me when I say he'd shock you. Another character that deserves a special mention here is Artan. He was a delightfully disrespectful character who'd manage to win you over despite your reluctance even in the short role he's given in the story.

“It was easy to be good and kind in times of plenty. 
The trying times were the moments that defined a man.
And love? Love was something that did much to change a person. 
It brought joy as it brought suffering, 
and in turn brought about those moments that defined one’s character.
Love gave life to the lifeless. It was the greatest of all living powers.
But, as with all things, love had a dark side to it.” 

🌹 I didn't really like Tariq in this book, but surprisingly, I didn't outright dislike him either and this is more due to the character growth he showed. I was hoping for things to simmer down between Khalid and Tariq, and I loved seeing their bromance coming about (Yep, bromance. Khalid and Tariq. You read it right.)

"For the first time, Tariq saw what Shahrzad saw when she looked at Khalid Ibn al-Rashid.
He saw a boy. Who loved a girl. More than anything in the world."

🌹 The twists and betrayals were really well-done and I T-O-T-A-L-L-Y didn't see them coming. A plot twist that involved Despina really gave me a very rude shock- I was ready to throw the book at the wall, it was completely out of the blue and so unexpected- and so cruel

🌹 I LOVED the girl power depicted throughout the book. The author has given us some delightfully kickass female characters in this book and I really dug it.

“I think beauty is rarely worth the trouble.” Shahrzad gripped Irsa’s hand tighter in sisterly solidarity. “But I am worth a great deal more than what you see.” 


🌹 The author is truly in her element in this high fantasy, and her writing was as gorgeous and lush as ever. Magic carpets, flying serpents- this book had them all. I did miss the food descriptions, though.

What didn't work for me: 

⚔ My main issue here lies with the plot. There were so many subplots that I feel the author didn't have as much time to focus on each one as she would have liked to. While everything was resolved satisfactorily, I did feel it all came about a bit too easily. Too conveniently. This makes me think that this should have been a trilogy- perhaps that would have given the author ample space to focus more on everything?  

⚔ The curse is probably the most important part of the story, but it didn't even seem to matter all that much towards the end. I hated how easily it was broken and I wish things hadn't seemed so convenient about it. 

⚔ The ending- I can't help but wish it had been a bit  more drawn out and proper. Yes, the epilogue did provide a good conclusion, but I felt even that had space for improvement. Perhaps a little less sappy would have been better?

Final thoughts: 

🌹⚔ Renée Ahdieh gives us the perfect ending in this fitting sequel to The Wrath and the Dawn, with everything resolved- the relationships, the curse, the war with Parthia- and as a fan of this duology, I couldn't have asked for more. My only concern now is that I'm not ready to leave this beautiful world yet.


The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 4/5
The characters: 5/5  
The cover: 3/5 (That blue- WHY?!)
Enjoy factor: 5/5

        

2 comments:

  1. I didn't read your entire review because I was afraid of spoilers but I'm so happy you loved this Ruzaika! It just reinforced the idea that I must read it soon.

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    Replies
    1. Oops- hope you didn't spot anything that would have spoiled the book for you, Emily- that would have truly been a bummer. Hope you pick this up soon! I'm sure you'd love it. :))

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