Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Review: The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
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Series: #2 in the Wrath and the Dawn duology
Release date: April 26th, 2016
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin)
Length: 432 pages
Source: ARC from the publisher

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 love Renee Ahdieh's words so much. I want to live inside them. I want them to be my life. I want to roll around in her imagery and be forever immersed in the beautiful depth and passion and romanticism of her characters and forget my humdrum life, because everything is so much better when Renee Ahdieh writes it. Dangerous, of course, and far more dramatic, but so much more beautiful and full of the kind of love that can ravage deserts and burn cities and you GUYS. I JUST. I never wanted this book to end, and I'm bereft that it has.

To be honest, this book is not perfect, and I wish I'd reread the first. As a sort of "high fantasy quest", with a bad guy to be vanquished and a plot to be plotted, it can get a little convenient. I do not care A SINGLE TINY BIT. Because my feelings are off the charts. And the writing, and the atmosphere, and the incredibly high stakes, and the incredibly awful things that happen. And SHAHRZAD AND KHALID, whom I just care about so much that it hurts every part of my soul. And the fact that I totally cried at the end. Twice. Cried like a teeny little boy.

Okay. Time to be semi coherent. What I loved about this book was how different it was from The Wrath and the Dawn. This book opens up the world beyond the walls of Rey (though not so much the magic, which I would have loved to learn more about. HOW ABOUT MORE BOOKS, RENEE? FULLY WILLING TO BRIBE YOU). Shazi and Khalid are separated. Shazi remains the absolute most awesome HBIC that you ever did see while still being human and flawed and fucking fantastic. Khalid is wounded and cold and beautiful and precious and my precious murder king must be protected, okay??

Wait. No. I was trying for coherency. Damn it, how do trade review types do this? How do they not end up publishing "KHAZI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and nothing else? Because I am tempted. But to be honest, there was so much to love in this book, and it all boils down to the characters. I loved getting to know Shahrzad's sister, Irsa, who is so very different from her--quiet and shy and young-- but just as strong. I loved getting to know Rahim, and even the dreaded Tariq, whom I STILL would gladly hobble/castrate/gently maim were I ever to meet him, but I like what Ahdieh did with him, narratively speaking. My absolute favorite was the new man character, whom I won't spoil at all except to say while technically he's another "convenience", he is so vivid and so difficult and so rude and so wonderful that I don't even care. Give me an Artan spin-off STAT.

What else happened in this book besides me ship? God, I don't even know. Some awesome instances of Ladies Doing Things. Despina exists, I'd just like to remind you, because Despina is incredibly important to life and happiness and all good things. OH, there was a tragic dearth of Jalal in this book, it must be said. The general feels between the characters are OFF THE CHARTS in this book. Ahdieh is so exquisitely talented at wringing every ounce of torture out of them she can, and it's beautiful. And my soul cries. And then my eyes cry.

If you loved The Wrath & the Dawn, there is no way you should or will miss this. If you haven't read The Wrath & the Dawn...well, it's possible I just spoiled you for a few thing--or at least the synopsis did--but WHATEVER get your behind to a library and get going, because it's one of my favorite books published in the last few years. Wildly romantic, wonderfully lush, eminently quotable, and hypnotically magical, this duology is not to be missed. It makes me so deeply, deeply happy, because it's just that powerful. It is a feelsplosion. The Rose and the DAGGER TO THE SOUL.


  1. I read "tragic dearth of Jalal" too fast and thought it said "tragic DEATH of Jalal" and had a mini panic attack, not going to lie.

    Anyway, SUPER EXCITED FOR THIS. I have a week to prepare for the feelsplosion and I am not ready.

  2. I started reading The Wrath and The Dawn on Sunday in preparation for The Rose and The Dagger, and I'm kicking myself for joining the party so late. That story, those characters, they're all so wonderful. I am so excited for The Rose and The Dagger!

    1. Yes!! This story and characters are SO wonderful. I'm going to miss them fiercely. And hey, better late than never; at least you don't have to wait long!

  3. I JUST FINISHED THIS. While I was a bit underwhelmed I agree that it definitely give me FEELS. Khalid/Shazi, Jalal/Despina, anger towards Tariq, and just FEELS. Also Artan is definitely amazing and I wish we could have more of him. AND THAT EPILOGUE. IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL *cries*

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress


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