The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.
Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.
The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.
Disclaimers: There will definitely be spoilers for The Wrath & The Dawn. There may be some things you consider to spoilers for this book. You have been warned.
Why we chose it: If you read our review of The Wrath & The Dawn all our reasons are clear.
Review: In The Wrath & The Dawn there’s a scene where Shahrzad’s father Jahandar make a rose bloom. He has magic, but he doesn’t have enough control over it and while the rose blooms beautifully for a second it quickly wilts and dies. We feel as if The Rose & The Dagger is a bit like this. There are many beautiful moments throughout the book, but we found ourselves a little disappointed at times. Not because Renee Ahdiedh’s writing becomes any less lyrical and gorgeous. It’s because there’s simply some things we could have done without.
For us Shahrzad and Khalid are even more amazing in this book. Their relationship takes on further aspects of difficulty because after the ending of the last book they’re somewhat estranged. Shahrzad now resides among enemies and allies in a camp filled with soldiers and family. She’s in a sort of self imposed exile you could say because she’s determined to break the curse upon her Caliph. There’s a weight upon both of them which is not only noted by Irsa -who’s easily one of our favourite characters, but it’s evident in how the temper of Shahrzad and the wrath of Khalid are heightened. Both of them are more volatile.
At one point in The Rose & The Dagger Shahrzad explodes in a fit of anger and we found ourselves annoyed. It seemed out of character for her. We’d come to know her as a cunning Calipha with a tongue that was sharp and silver, but controlled by planning and thought. We’ve thought about it though and we now believe such blind anger to be justified. There’s a lot of Shahrzad’s shoulders in this story. Renee Ahdieh accurately conveys that.
With Khorasan in ruins in the aftermath of the Great Storm we read Khalid’s little trips from the palace and moving endeavours. Not only did they show character development. They were relevant to the world building. We saw more of the city so many of our main and side characters called home. We saw the regular people that inhabited it. It was really nice actually and there was a more hopeful tone to those scenes.
Irsa and Shahrzad’s relationship as sisters is far more real in The Rose & The Dagger because we actually got to see the two of them together. There were definitely some tense moments between the two and we related to them. There are times when discussions with our sister lead to heightened feelings of anger. To us Ahdieh wrote an honest portrayal of sisters in an imagined world where armies and magic reside.
The Rose & The Dagger was and will be forevermore filled with far more pain than its predecessor. We could elaborate on that in great detail, but because want to avoid as many spoilers as possible we will simply discuss two:
- Because of this book being the final one in a duology it came across a little rushed at times. More and more authors like Leigh Bardugo and Jodi Meadows are choosing to write duologies. The Wrath & The Dawn is the first full duology we’ve ever read and it’s left us wondering. Will we find the pacing in all concluding books in a duology to be a little off? It genuiely pains us if that’s the case.
- Death or injury. For those of you who have read this book you know it’s not lacking in either department. It’s in no way like any book from the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but Renee Ahdiedh has this knack of making you care very strongly about her characters and their final destination. Any form of harm to them is inconceivable for us.
An area with which we felt wasn’t really as great as it could have been was the ending. It definitely could have been the aforementioned pacing problem above, but for us we think it was the lack of flair.
Many concluding books in a fantasy series end with a major battle which leaves readers reeling and in emotional distress. The Rose & The Dagger ended in a way that is fitting to our dearest Shahrzad.
To conclude, while we don’t love this book as much as the previous one, we did enjoy it. It could have suffered from second book syndrome and had many filler like qualities. We’re grateful that it didn’t and we hope that any of you have who have put of reading The Rose & The Dagger will do yourself a favour and read it. We know that as soon as we’re able we’re going to buy ourselves physical copies of both books. We also plan on checking out the prequel stories we’ve heard about.
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