Friday, June 23, 2017

Book Review: The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

fantasy book review

The Rose & the Dagger
By Renee Ahdieh
Series: The Wrath & the Dawn #2
Paperback: 448 pages
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Speak
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ | 5 / 5 |
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Related: | The Wrath & the Dawn | Star-Touched Queen |
Categories: Fantasy, Magic, Fairy Tale, Favorites

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.
fantasy book reviews
My heart broke multiple times, reading the final book in this beautifully haunting world. I didn't want it to end. I wanted so much more.

Our story begins where The Wrath & the Dawn leaves us hanging by a thread. A magically powered storm levels the city of Khorasan. A storm brought about by her own father's blood magic. The city is in ruins, burned to the ground. Shahrzad has been taken to her enemies' camp by none other than Tariq, her first love. Khalid is alone in the city that he is responsible for, his heart torn to pieces. My heart was in the same condition after realizing that he thought Shazi chose to leave him.

I enjoyed learning more about Khalid's character. The way that he helped citizens clean up after the storms, never once revealing his identity was inspiring and perfect. No one expected the Caliph to stoop to manual labor to fix his city, so it was easy for him to hide in plain sight, helping his citizens. I fell in love with him more if that is even possible. I admire his strength and resolve, regardless of how broken he is. His will to do what is right for his people, even though they think him a monster breaks my heart. And his need for Shazi, his vulnerability when it comes to her is beyond sexy. He is, by far, my favorite character in this story. I always fall for the broken ones.. (:

'Stop being so stubborn!' Her bare feet fell to the onyx floor. 'Do not make me beg you. Because I won't. I'll merely lose my temper or cry. And I have always secretly despised those who cry to wheedle their objectives. But if you force me to do it, Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, I will. And I cry beautifully'. She crossed her arms and pursed her lips. A corner of his mouth twitched. 'You do not cry beautifully.'
The reader sees Shazi's character grow and mature as well. She is able to remain unselfish in the face of her family's precarious position. There is nothing more that she wants than to leave her enemies' camp and return to Khalid and the friends that she has made in the castle. Her father's health prevents her from doing so. In bringing about the storm that leveled her city, Jahandar's body is broken and he remains unconscious long after he should have woken. No one knows what the magic has done to his body and mind, so Shazi and her sister, Irsa remain in the camp to care for him. He holds that evil book hostage, even in his coma-like state. This unselfishness comes at a cost though, as time passes with no progress in breaking Khalid's curse or stopping a looming war.
Shahrzad could not return until she'd found a way to protect her people. Her love. A way to end Khalid's terrible curse.
She lies to everyone in the camp, refusing to admit her love for the monster king. This war these men are preparing for is to remove him from his throne, but she must do something. The moment her dead best friend, Shiva visits her in her dreams, she knows what she must do. She will seek out Musa effendi's help, the fire temple mage who gave her the magic carpet.
'So tiresome.' Shiva nudged her in jest. 'This is your dream, you goose! If you cannot say what it is you desire in your own dream, then where can you dare to say it?'
So, I was kind of iffy about the magic carpet thing. Thankfully, the author writes it well enough that I didn't even think twice about it. Although I did have A Whole New World stuck in my head for quite a while. Regardless, Musa offers his assistance and introduces Shazi to someone who may be able to help her strengthen her own magic. This man's name is Artan, and I fell in love with him immediately. His arrogance rivaled Shazi's, and their constant bantering and sarcasm made me laugh out loud more than once. He is a powerful fire mage with a curse of his own, a family more powerful than thought possible. Are they powerful enough to break Khalid's curse?

I still hate Tariq. His love for Shazi is irritating, and I hate the way that he keeps interfering in her relationship. I understand that he was her first love, but damn, let it go bro. A little dignity would be surprising from him, and eventually, the reader gets to see it. It takes a bit too long in my opinion, and he never really redeems himself in my eyes.

'Make no mistake- the next time I see Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, one of us will die.'
His hatred gets tiresome, and the things he does in the name of love are selfish. He obviously loves himself more than he could ever love Shazi.

The reader gets to know Irsa, Shazi's sister throughout this story. Her love for Tariq's best friend, Rahim continues to grow. I mostly enjoyed her point of view. Although Irsa is in the dark about her sister's true feelings, she knows that something is not right. I liked her ability to be open minded when exposed to ideas she does not like.

The villains in this story increase exponentially. Reza, Tariq's uncle teams up with a foreign king that wants to see Khalid dead. Omar, the shiehk of the Badawi camp, a group of outcast warriors, is an unknown. There are so many enemies lining up to kill the boy-king. I obviously hated them all, and wanted nothing more than to see them shamed and reduced to a pile of rubble. Sigh.

To wrap up my rambling review, I truly fell in love with this world, these characters. My heart breaks that it is over, and I feel like it all ended too soon. The betrayals were shocking, and then they weren't. The story flowed perfectly, yet I hope that the author decides to write more of this world. I am not ready to say goodbye, just yet..