Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Rose & the Dagger - Renée Ahdieh (The Wrath & the Dawn, Book #2)

The Rose & the Dagger is the second book in The Wrath & The Dawn duology.  Read our review of the first book here.

Summary:  The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.  In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced form 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 sumptuous 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.  (Summary from book flap - Image from

My Review:  Duologies are my new favorite thing.  No waiting for book after book after book after book to come out to get a little resolution.  It's WHAM.  BAM.  Thank you very much.  There's something to be said for not dragging things out.  The Rose & the Dagger is a folkloric retelling and the latter half of a duology inspired by One Thousand and One Nights (better known in the states as Arabian Nights).  If you haven't read the first book, The Wrath & the Dawn, I suggest you read our review which posted back in December 2019. 

The Rose & the Dagger picks up roughly where The Wrath & the Dawn leaves off.  Jahandar's magical temper tantrum has abated, leaving massive casualties and destruction in its wake.  Shazi has been 'rescued' by her well-intentioned ex and spirited away to a rebel encampment in the middle of the desert.  Khalid remains behind to try to repair his kingdom, retain his throne, and learn to live without the woman he cannot bring himself to kill.  Surrounded by her enemies, and desperate to keep her family safe, Shazi must learn to control the strange magic that flows through her veins and find a way to save her husband before it is too late.

The Rose & the Dagger story line wasn't particularly deep, but it was enjoyable.  Thankfully, I wasn't looking for a deep dive anyway.  Sometimes that's great and all, but this time I needed some straight up easy-to-read mind candy and R&D fit the bill.  I enjoyed the principle romance, but also loved the secondary romances that wove through the book.  Where The Wrath & the Dawn occasionally leaned towards 'overly descriptive' in terms of things that set the scene (clothing, food, architecture), this book felt adequately balanced with a flourish of description here and there and nothing too heavy handed.

My least favorite part of the book was a new character named Artan.  From the very beginning, he was a bit much for my taste and, try as I might, I couldn't see him and his dragony-thing as anything other than Atreyu and Falkor from The Neverending Story.  I didn't want to see them that way.  It just kept happening and it reaaaaaaaaally didn't work for me.

The ending was my favorite part of the book because it contained a few twists (and a secondary twist aka 'a twist on a twist') that I did not see coming.  Eventually, the right people get their comeuppance, the women get some serious jabs in, and nearly everyone gets their happily ever after.  When it comes to books like this (entertaining, escapist, easy-to-reads), that is exactly the ending I am hoping to find.  I enjoyed the series and plan to pick up her next duology, beginning with Flame in the Mist, very soon.

My Rating:  4 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  A handful of swear words, some making out and one very vague sex scene, if you can call it that. Less face-to-face romance than last time, owing in part to the fact that the main couple were apart for a good chunk of the book. One half-hearted rape attempt.

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