The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)
By: Renee Ahdieh
Publication Date: April 26th, 2016
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.
After reading the Wrath and the Dawn, I wasn’t sure what direction the Rose and the Dagger would move in–there seemed to be so many potential enemies, although a few stood out. Although I recently heard Renee Ahdieh speak about her books, there were surprisingly few spoilers dropped, which I both appreciated and didn’t. However, once I started to get into the book, I was just as absorbed as I was with the first. And, ultimately, I found The Rose and the Dagger to be an excellent reprise, and a bittersweet ending.
Again, Shazi was one of the draws. She was such a strong character that she managed to find freedom within imprisonment, which I admired. She was able to find her strength, learn new skills, work to save her boyfriend/friend/country, and basically just be a badass even though she was technically imprisoned by a whole host of enemies. There were so many times when I wanted to stand up and applaud her for being someone who refuses to be cowed. The ‘damsel in distress’ trope was very neatly subverted several times, throughout the book, which I loved.
The romance with Khalid didn’t play as strong a part, since they were separated for most of the book, but I enjoyed that as well, honestly. We didn’t often get glances of Khalid outside of Shazi’s view in the first book, and I enjoyed that aspect of the Rose and the Dagger. And the parts where he and Shazi were together were both sweet and electric, with Ahdieh combining both rather skillfully.
One of my favorite new additions was Irsa, Shazi’s rather sweet younger sister. She was a good counterbalance to Shahrzad, but not without her own form of courage and a good bit of daring. My complaint about her was more that she didn’t seem to serve much purpose for most of the book, except to counter Shazi in a somewhat ineffective way. In fact, that would be my main complaint for most of the book: that there seemed to be little reason or drive behind most of the characters, and I sometimes found it difficult to find justification for their actions. Especially towards the beginning of the book, I wasn’t sure where things were headed, and it was mildly frustrating.
That being said, though, there were things that made this book also stand out in a very positive way. I loved the inclusion of more magic, and a vague explanation of a system, although I honestly wanted Shazi to become even more proficient. And I liked the message, which was clear but not overwhelming: fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to the Dark Side. Well, I suppose here, loss leads most of the big baddies on their quest to destroy Khalid, but it’s similar. I also appreciated the ending, and I flat out fell in love with the epilogue.
Overall, I have to say that I love Renee Ahdieh’s duology–although I’m sad that I already have to leave the world she’s created. Fortunately, I’m already sold on her next project (I mean, the description of ‘Mulan meets 47 Ronin’ would snag ANYONES interest, right?)
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.