The Rose and the Dagger, Renee Ahdieh

  • Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 13.20.51.pngThe Rose and the Dagger, Renee Ahdieh

Rating: * * * *

Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

 Publication Date: April 2016
Goodreads synopsis:

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.

I absolutely loved ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’ and ‘The Rose and the Dagger’ proved to be an exciting and enjoyable follow up.
This second (and final) novel in the series had a fast-paced and thrilling plot, which built to a crescendo in the final hundred or so pages. The last 25 percent was filled with twists, and I absolutely did not see the one at 75 percent coming. I love being surprised by books, especially when the book is the final one in a series – being shocked and kept guessing until the very end makes for an impactful series ending and makes the novels all the more memorable.
One of my favourite parts of ‘The Rose and the Dagger’ was Jahandar’s characterisation. I really enjoyed the sections which focused on him and his longing for the magical book, the one which wreaked such havoc in the first novel. These sections brought out the contrast between Jahandar and his daughter – Shazi has an innate confidence and quick wit which draws others towards her and empowers her, but Jahandar suffers from a lack of self confidence and security and has a constant and weakening fixation on how others view him. Additionally, while Shazi has gained power by becoming the Calipha of Khorasan and also a feeling of fulfilment through her relationship with Khalid, Jahandar lost his job and with it his sense of fulfilment and status. I found Jahandar’s insecurity and his addiction to the book moving, because it highlighted his unhappiness and disappointment with himself. He was a stand out character for me in both books of this series, and I am glad that he had a key role to play.
Other highlights of the novel for me were Shazi’s storytelling – I particularly loved her tale of ‘The Girl Who Grasped the Moon’. I also really liked the sections with Shazi flying on the magic carpet and discovering and exploring her powers. I was glad to see this, as I commented in my review of the first novel that I wished to see more development of the magical elements of the series.
I did find that the fast pace and fact that this is a only two book series meant that some things were resolved too quickly, particularly the Tariq situation and rivalry between him and Khalid. The speed at which this ended felt too sudden and convenient for me, as did the rapidity at which some other characters came round and accepted Khalid, with very little conflict, despite the fact that all his wives before Shazi were put to death. These things did, unfortunately, detract from my enjoyment and meant that I did not love this novel quite as much as I did the previous one.
However, overall this series was a fantastic and original take on the Arabian Nights story and I know that I will reread both these books soon. I definitely look forward eagerly to whatever Renee Ahdieh writes next.
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