BOOK REVIEW + DISCUSSION: The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

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BANNER YA RETELLING

Such a sumptuous conclusion of The Wrath and the Dawn duology that is madly unforgettable! Renee Ahdieh remained evocative on her narration and moved my heart in many different ways. Her writing style takes us to a pure bliss as if we’re living inside her epic tales. I like that the plot was less angsty and had a lighter feel to it. I wish it’s a trilogy ‘cuz I feel like we could have explored this world more deeply.

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TITLE: The Rose & the Dagger ( The Wrath & the Dawn # 2)
AUTHOR:  Renee Ahdieh
GENRE: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasay, Romance
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHER: Putnam
DATE READ: July 27, 2016

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GOODREADS:

 

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.

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non spoilery review

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“Destiny was for fools. Shahrzad would not wait for her life to happen . She would make it happen.”
From the stars, to the stars. I rate it 4.5 STARS!

The Rose & the Dagger picks up right where it ended on the first book but this time, Renee showed us the lustrous depth of the world she created and submerged it deeply into a course of rich fantasy. She incorporated lots of elements to spiced up her story more; more tales, magic, flying carpet, giant serpents,  unbeknownst temple that harbors people with special gifts, those and all other things were present here to captivate the readers. And by the time you’re reading this review, it means you have read the first one. This book tackled more on how to break Khalid’s curse which i a good thing because we still don’t know whether it’s breakable and what are the things at stake to break it.

I also enjoyed the presence of little tales in this book to remind us what we’ve grown to love on this story. The two tales that I’ve loved inside there story were; The Girl Who Grasped the Moon that was really a poignant tale that taught us that greediness comes with a price and The Tribe of Weeping Men a tale taught us that just looking forward and never looking back to where you came from also comes with a price.

There’s less romance on this book but every stolen moments of Khalid and Shazi are swoon-worthy. I like that even they are apart from each other, they could still function as a normal human being rather than whine all day. I like the fact that the characters are mature enough to be realistic and face the situation they’re in without jeopardizing each other.

“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 were lots of fighting, bargaining, betrayals and deceptions, that would test the where the characters’ allegiance and loyalty truly lies. I like the fact that Renee managed to dwell on more of the character’s development because it helped us to understood the story more in the eyes of her feisty leads.

There’s an impressive progression of the story line but I have to admit that the beginning was rather slow. I have so much love for this duology and I can talk about it for hours, but I will end my review on a final conclusion about the ending.

I am genuinely happy that the conflict of this book ended on a high note. She gave us an ending with less bloodshed and more of resolution. An ending that we didn’t expect because in a story with a presence of war , we always think of putting the enemies’ head on the spike. But no one has to die all the time. Just like what Sun Tzu said in his famous ART OF WAR book, Every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought. The characters dealt with this in a peaceful manner preventing the potential war that would cost more lives and do more harm than good. The rise of the girl power on this book really helped a lot. I enjoyed this conclusion more than I should because it’s full of surprises and jaw-dropping moments.

I’ll miss this duology so much. Moreover, I’ll miss Khalid Ibn al-Rashid.


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I will make this discussion short. I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE STORY. I like how rich and vibrant it felt and I also enjoyed the subplots Renee has given us. I am happy that the curse was broken but was devastated that Rahim died.

BUT there is a reason I’ve given this book 4.5 stars instead of 5 stars. This book was written beautifully but after reading this, there were still some points left unanswered. I have no issues with this and it didn’t make me love the book less. But it just made me question some things and I wished to know more about it but I know that I wouldn’t since this is the conclusion.

  • Origin of Magic

These are of the few things that stir the book; Shazi’s magic, Jahandar’s dark magic book, Musa-effendi secret school of magic and Artan and his giant serpent, his powerful aunt and most of all, the curse. Though I must say that they were beautifully executed in the story, I felt like it needed to be elaborated more but that would mean this book would be a trilogy. Since this was a duology, maybe Renee didn’t have enough pages to dwell on these deeply. So first, I am not sure the origin of Shazi’s magic, why does she have it and why does her sister don’t. She must have inherited it from Jahandar but what’s so special about their family? Is it because they have the magic book? If so, why does the Vikram also possess some magic? And also, people in Khorasan, seemed to be not surprised by the presence of magic. Is it because it is innate in the city?

Also since it was mentioned, Musa-effendi established a school for people with special gifts to harness the skills better and help them control it. It means there are certain individual who possesses a gift not just a few. Maybe a novella about it will do because it would be amazing to explore the other special magic some people have. Also we didn’t get to see Shazi at her best. It’s not clear what kind of power she has. We all know she could lift the flying carpet and at that night on the prison (at least this was how I imagined it) she lifted the chain on her foot so Vikram can successfully break it using fire.Does this means her power is almost similar to telekinesis?

  • The Ending

I know someone has to die in the end. It’s given since the beginning. TBH, I never liked Jahandar. Even he is not pure evil, he is somewhat selfish and always look for himself. He did not even considered the feelings of his daughters when he makes on. He reminds me of Nyx’s parents in Cruel Beauty. The ending is a happy and resolute one and I’m really happy for the way things turned out for Khalid and Shazi.

Overall I have no issues with these because despite the loss of elaboration to this stuff, Renee still managed to bring a bigger picture more than this. I like that the story remained true to its predecessor. I love how the tales still remain in this story.

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The characters in this sequel have shone in their own special ways. Let me discuss it one by one.

SHAHRZAD: I absolutely love her characterization. The fact that she had ventured out of her comfort zone and look for solutions to their dilemma, was really admirable. She did not sit and wait, she took the initiative to accomplish things. Her love for Khalid encouraged her to be courageous enough to take risk and explore. She is smart, inquisitive and her best moment in this book would have to be when she bravely asked Artan’s help to learn more about how to control her magic. Also how she sneaks out every night to fly using her magic carpet.

KHALID: I love him but I’m going to be honest, Khalid was emo in this book. We all know he wanted Shazi to be safe but he never tried to look for her to make make sure whether she really is safe. If Shazi did not come looking for him he would still deemed helpless to break the curse. But I like the fact that he was personally going to town to help the people of Rey rebuild the city after the fire. My favorite moment of Khalid is when he first ride the magic carpet and he kept on telling Shazi not to move a lot because they might fall. Also, that scene when he told Tariq to shoot him with an arrow and offered him a chance to kill him or he wouldn’t have any later, that was really how you deal with your rival in love. His best moment was when he finally broke the curse, it gave him a great deal of pain but good thing he was able to fight the book.

TARIQ: I hate him at first but good thing he finally understood everything and accepted that he couldn’t beat Khalid in Shazi’s heart. Even he is annoying at first, we can’t deny that he’s a good person with a skill of a true leader. That moment when he teamed up with Khalid to go to Parthia to claim Shazi, I knew that they would become friends and allies.

IRSA: Yes yes too much girl power in this. I love Irsa too! She is like Shazi, bold, courageous and speaks out her mind, but with a bit of inclination to follow the rules. She’s just a girl waiting for Shazi to trust her because if Shazi demanded it she would really risk her life to help her sister. I really felt her pain when Rahim died… He was the only guy who finally understood her for the way she is but then in one snap, he’s gone. My favorite moment of Irsa is when she scolded Khalid and Tariq to calm their arses.

DESPINA: This girl turned me upside down. If you would remember on my review on book 1, I admitted that it took me a while to fully trust Despina because she is so suspicious. But after reading her novella with Jalal, I was rooting for her to be the good girl. But then things got super surprising when we found out that she is the daughter of the Sultan of Parthia and was sent to Khalid’s palace to spy on him. I was ready to hate her, like my nerves were boiling with much annoyance for her betrayal. But then she saved Shazi and helped her escape Parthia and she explained everything to her. That’s when I understood that Despina played a very dangerous game; determining where your loyalty truly lies. In this case, it’s with Khalid and his family.

VIKRAM (THE RAJPUT): This dude too surprised me! He was like Aelin Fireheart, a fire-bringer. I thought he was just a silent type dude and the best swordsman in Rey but I missed the fact that he has some super powers too and that he conspired with Despina to take down the Sultan of Parthia.

JALAL: We have less Jalal moments on this book but he still is the same guy we have known from book 1, the guy who would risk his life for his cousin if the situation deemed it. Even he said that he wouldn’t anymore, deep in his heart, he would still do.

YASMINE: Thank goodness you saved the day. Because of Yasmine, the Sultan of Parthia didn’t push forward the war and we have reached a peaceful agreement.

JAHANDAR and TARIQ’S UNCLE: 

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Jahandar already did, what are you waiting for Uncle Reza?

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Less romance in this book because it focused more on resolving the conflicts. But those stolen moments of Khalid and Shazi everytime Shazi flies on her magic carpet, is truly swoon-worthy. Also the sacrifices they made for each other were truly heart warming.

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Renee Ahdieh has magic in her. She really knows how to entice a reader with her beautiful style of writing. I like the fact that every now and then throughout the course of the book, she still managed to insert different tales related to the current situation our characters are in. This made us think more deeply and made us ponder more. She inserted lots of subplots and plot twists but my only problem is that some of those subplots weren’t elaborated well. It would be a good thing to make a novella out of it.  It’s still narrated in a third person that is why we were able to explore the character’s situation all at the same time. I’ll be anticipating her future works.

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I gave this book 4.5./5 stars because of minor flaws nevertheless, this duology will be added to my all time favorite retelling. I highly recommend this to all who wanted to experience a taste of sweet romance in a unique and evocative setting.

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Thank you for reading this review! See you again next time 🙂

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