Book Review: The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh cover

The Rose and the Dagger
By Renee Ahdieh
Goodreads | Amazon
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn #2
Published: April 26th 2016
Rating: Baby, you’re a firework

“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.” 

There is a lot going on in this book.

Like the shifting sands of the desert allegiances and loyalties change. I was never 100% convinced that any character would continue to stay on Shazi and Khalid’s side.  It was pretty much open season for betrayal.  There was also a strong theme of mending fences, mutual respect, and cooperation saving the day.

Shazi and Khalid are still well matched.  I appreciate that they see one another and act as equals.  I am still on this ship.  They need to be together.  Khalid’s POV is much more prominent in this book. You are really able to see how far he is coming.  He learns to forgive and to show his true self to others.  This increased vulnerability makes him a much more interesting character and worthy king.

This book was less swoony than the first book.  I was okay with that.  The first infatuation is over and now things are becoming more real. As in there is now a war on their hands. There is significantly more violence than in the first book. It was also in some ways much more straightforward.  There is no mystery of Khalid’s curse Renne Ahdieh also managed to avoid the cheap cliché of a love triangle even though Shazi and Khalid are physically separated. Tariq never has a chance with Shazi and he knows it.  Thank God.

Having said that I am not as much a hater of Tariq as other people.  He is struggling with change and coming to terms with what he knows and reality not being the same thing.  He is angry and scared and he focused all of that on Khalid.  He finally figures out how to grow up.

Artan Temujin. In my head he is totally Mongolian.  I actually have this theory that he is Chingis Khan (whose real name happens to be Temujin) We will see if this happens in this book.  I am usually not a fan of introducing new characters in second books.  They very often are just there for plot convenience but Artan really intrigued me. 

This book was weakest in the area of plot.  There were times that things felt rushed and other times when I struggled to keep everything straight.  While The Wrath and the Dawn was a slow burn up to the climax The Rose and the Dagger was a firework throwing off plot points and characters in all directions.  It is still impressive but a very different feeling and mood. I think that the reason that I felt it was so rushed was because I wanted to savor the story.  The writing remained rock solid. She balanced the slightly stylized phrasing that gives it a sense of time and the freshness of the text. 

I was a fan of the feminist themes and power of women woven throughout the story.  It was pretty cool to see women discovering different ways to be strong and to handle power come from the ashes of a story that to be honest is sexist beyond all reason. 

This was not the book that I imagined it would be.  I think that it was better.

My full review of The Wrath and the Dawn.

From Goodreads:
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.