Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2
Published by Penguin on 4/26/16
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Source: Barnes & Noble
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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.
The Rose and the Dagger is a sumptuous follow-up to the beguiling The Wrath and the Dawn, and an enjoyable end to a deeply romantic tale, but in some ways I don’t think its potential is fully realized. I recommend it to readers who fell in love with Shazi and Khalid in The Wrath and the Dawn, because you’ll want to know how their turbulent love story closes, and I think most will be satisfied, but as a lover of stories and entertainment I felt that this could’ve been more.
The Wrath and the Dawn spoilers ahead.
The Rose and the Dagger opens with Shazi in a war camp, in the midst of loved ones and friends as they plot to overthrow her beloved kingdom and kill the man she loves. Khalid is back in Rey, dealing with the destruction left behind after Shazi’s father, Jahandar, casted a spell of fire on the capitol city. The stage is set for an epic tale of love, betrayal, redemption, and magic.
Without doubt, the writing is beautiful. Told using the third person narrative, Ahdieh’s elegant prose creates such a lush setting that I felt I was a part of the rich culture. I loved the language, the colors, the harshness of the setting, the food – just the infusion of the middle eastern culture. I will always gravitate towards books with diverse characters, cultures, values…everything. I’ll gravitate towards anything that’s different, and Renee Ahdieh’s stylish and graceful duology is what I dream to see more of in the genres I love, and fiction in general.
The style of this book is representative of the grandeur of traditional oral storytelling. It pays it great homage and I appreciate the uniqueness of the narrative. But, this is a novel that I held in my hands, a novel I read while laying in bed, or lounging on the couch, and I didn’t feel as deep a connection to it as I would have liked. I didn’t form a bond with the characters that would’ve made this an unforgettable experience. I did connect with the protagonists, somewhat, and more so because of what transpired in The Wrath and the Dawn, which I think was a more intimate affair, with better chemistry, and more development for characters whose perspectives were seen. In The Rose and the Dagger, the plot expands and more key players are introduced, but not fully known. They never make it past being acquaintances to me, though they make important moves in the plot, and that frustrated me.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the plot in general – everything turns out as I hoped it would – I wasn’t satisfied with the lack of details, which I felt lent shallowness to the story. There were a few instances when players were introduced, back-story hinted at, or a little nugget thrown in the mix, that all led to nothing.
See spoiler for more details.
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– Artan and his aunt. Who is she? I was hoping they’d play a bigger role with regard to Jahandar’s book and Shazi’s magic. And the rest of his family?? Why did that girl keep staring at the carpet? Who is she? Was it hers?
– It was so easy to damage the book. I mean, is the curse truly broken? Did it become something else? I’m suspicious.
– Tariq’s Uncle – what the hell? That “showdown” with Shahrzad was tepid. Two scenes!
– Jahandar – I so wanted more of his cowardly Rumplestiltskin-like slithering.
– Despina and Jalal! Whhaaa?? More, please. That reunion scene felt so out of place without any build-up.
– Khalid and Jalal! Wheeeere was my drama? Bromance angst is the best.
– Irsa and Rahim – I mean, I was kind of sad, but I barely knew ya. « Hide Spoiler
Also, I didn’t feel enough tension – I was never scared, or even worried about how things would end, regarding the romance and the political subplots. The seeming ease at which everything unfolded for Shazi and Khalid took away from the epic feel of their love story that was introduced in book one. I needed more drama, more uncertainty and angst. In all honesty, I think this should’ve been a trilogy, or included pages and pages more of development.
In essence, all of my gripes are because I fell in love with this world in The Wrath and the Dawn and was expecting a glorious and all-encompassing experience that would allow me to feel a flood of emotions, but I didn’t experience that. I liked The Rose and the Dagger, but I’m disappointed that I didn’t love it. I so looked forward to this, and was very hopeful it would be a fave, based on the early reviews. And don’t be mistaken, I agree with everyone who states this is a divinely romantic story in an enchanting world, penned by a talented writer. Unfortunately, for me, there was too much missing and it didn’t hit the spot. I’m greedy.
That epilogue was boss though.