The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh
Buddy read with Summer @ Xingsings
Publication Date: April 26th 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Re-telling.
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones
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.
The Rose and the Dagger takes place almost right at the end of The Wrath and the Dawn. Shazi, has been taken from her home with Khalid, is reunited with her family and finds herself in a war camp set on destroying Khalid and his kingdom. Shazi is caught between a rock and a hard place and while she wishes more than anything to be by Khalid’s side, her loyalty to her ailing father and determination to find a way to break Khalid’s curse to stop this impending war prevents her from doing so.
“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.”
The relationship between Shahrzad and Khalid remains to be my favourite aspect of this series. In The Wrath and the Dawn, they had a push and pull dynamic due to the secrecy of Khalid’s curse. This book sees them free of that secrecy and in its place we have them working side by side in search of a way to break the curse and stop the war. They are separated for quite some time in the book and I appreciated the way Ahdieh acknowledged the fact that they are still both individuals within the relationship. What was more impressive was seeing Shazi taking charge and standing firm in her love for Khalid despite the fact that everyone around her still believe him to be the “monster boy king.”Yes, Khalid is far from perfect; he can be ruthless and hot headed, but he is also a man that loves fiercely and is on his way to believing that he deserves to be loved. He’s a complex character and that’s what makes him a fascinating character to read about and to root for. Khalid and Shazi are one of my favourite couples in literature. One of the reasons for this is down to the emphasis on the way that Khalid and Shazi are equals in this relationship. There’s a maturity to their relationship. They both respect one another and listen to what they have to say. It’s a relationship full of communication, honesty and passion. They both love fiercely and this was highlighted throughout the book.
“I’ve missed the silence of you listening to me.” Shahrzad attempted a weak smile. “No one listens to me as you do.”
His expression turned quizzical.
“You don’t wait to speak,” she clarified. “You truly listen.”
“Only to you,” Khalid replied gently.
However, the relationship between Khalid and Shazi is not the only one explored in this book. Shazi’s sister also has a part to play in this tale. Since reuniting with her family, Shazi finds herself wary of everyone around her, as they are of her. Irsa is no different. Upon reuniting with her sister, Shazi is forced to face the fact that Irsa is no longer the naive little girl who is happy to sit around and let Shazi come and go as she pleases. Instead, Isra finds her courage and assertiveness. She urges Shazi to treat her with the respect to be honest with her, no matter how hard the truth may be. I loved watching these two sisters come together again and turn their relationship into one of honesty and respect. Irsa’s budding relationship with Rahim was also a sweet development.
Now, what of Tariq? Well, for the first half of the book he was irritating and was acting more like a petulant child than a man. He made a lot of foolish choices, ones spurred by his own selfishness, sense of entitlement and bitterness. However, we did make some progress around the halfway mark as Tariq was forced to confront the reality of the situation after his choice led to an almost fatal consequence. I especially love how Shazi and Khalid did not hesitate to put him in his place when he crossed the line.
While some characters had some great developments, I did feel like certain characters could have benefited from more page time. To start, let’s talk about Jalal. I was disappointed in the treatment of his character, especially since he and Khalid’s relationship took a few hits at the beginning of the book. I would have liked to see these two communicate more and openly discuss the events of what happened earlier in the book. This leads me to Despina. I don’t even know where to start with her character. We were treated to some surprising revelations about her but I felt like the exploration of these developments were rushed and we never really got to feel the effects of these revelations.
Finally, the war itself fell kind of flat for me. Again, this comes down to the fact that the last quarter of the book felt rushed and we never really saw the developments and seriousness of the war to come because all of the significant events that led up to the final confrontation happened off the page. This also meant that the three figures that posed as a threat to Khalid and his kingdom, Reza, Jahander and Salim, didn’t really have a foreboding presence.
I was also slightly disappointed with the exploration of the magic system in this book. We get some more insights into the system but I felt like the only time magic was explored was for the sake of developing Shazi’s character. We know Shazi possess some magical ability in the first book and here we see her trying to learn more about her ability and its manifestation. Here enters Artan. He was a fascinating character as the magic had shaped his and his family’s legacy. However, we don’t get a lot of information about this magic and I felt like I ended the book with a lot of questions and uncertainties about the magic system in this world.
Overall this was definitely an enjoyable sequel. The relationship between Khalid and Shahrzad remains to be the highlight of the book but I also liked the exploration of the sisterhood between Shazi and Irsa. The writing was stunning but I did feel like the last quarter of the book was rushed and some elements of the book weren’t as fleshed out as I’d have liked it to be. I felt like the book could have used an additional 100 pages so we could have the time to tie up these loose ends.
“Cut the strings, Shazi. Fly.”