“Your future is not set in stone, my dearest star. A coin turns on itself a number of times before it lands.”
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.
The Rose & The Dagger is a wonderful and worthy ending to The Wrath and The Dawn story — a retelling like no other. Worthy of all the praises and adoration.
After getting attached to the characters in the first book, and to the exotic world of The Wrath & The Dawn, I was so excited to get back to this series of Renée Ahdeih. The Rose & The Dagger is one of three books that I’m eagerly anticipating this year. And to say that I am happy to finally get my hands on it is an understatement.
Going back to Khalid and Shazhi’s world remind me just how much I love the first book. Right from the start I get myself immersed with the beauty of Renee’s writing. In many ways Renee is a wonderful writer. Her metaphorical prose and gorgeous passages were always a joy to read. Just like in the first book, The Rose & The Dagger is full of beautiful imagery and words that mean more than they tell. I can always soaked myself anytime in Renée Ahdeih writing.
“The power behind words lies with the person.”
Khalid makes my heart go wild, warmed and even stop in this installment. If you have read my review for the first book The Wrath & The Dawn, you know how much I champion this murderous boy-king. So just imagine how much I love him in here now that he finally show his true side. His feelings and emotions are now unfiltered. The mask he usually wear in front of everyone is rarely seen. All the icy personality he usually project melted. No hints of the murderer that the whole Kingdom of Rey believe that he is, except for times when he think his wife Shahrzad is in danger.
As expected for the Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid is wise beyond his age. With all the lost, deaths and suffering he saw and experienced Khalid now know how to appreciate and value his possessions. Not only his wife but all things he owns. After the dark storm that almost destroyed his land, he personally help in rebuilding Rey without his people knowing. He go beyond the call of duty as the Caliph, providing help by physical labor and other things he can provide without announcing his true identity as their ruler. In loosing almost everything, Khalid learned to appreciate life, to forgive himself and fight for his love — love for his wife, love for his people, and love for his Kingdom. With Shahrzad in his side, Khalid learn how to both fight and surrender, and when to wait and when to act.
“Take help when it is offered, Khalid- jan . True strength isn’t about sovereignty. It’s about knowing when you need help and having the courage to accept it.”
Shahrzad is a strong heroine. She is the true hero in all these. Without her Khalid won’t be the best Caliph of Khorasan will ever be. She is the light behind all the darkness, the shining star in the sea of dark clouds, the heroine who possess not only an immeasurable strength but also an immeasurable heart.
Though the story started with Khalid and Shahrzad far away from each other, these two remain connected in every way. The romance between them is crafted beautifully. I love every part of it. Renée Ahdeih doesn’t need a love triangle to put a tension between these two. And even Khalid and Shahrzad are apart you know that they deeply care for each other. And when they are together, you’ll envy the love they share.
“She saw her sister leap toward the Caliph of Khorasan, trying to push him aside. In the same instant, the caliph grabbed her, wanting to shield her with his body. Two stubborn lovers, protecting each other from the very same threat. Fighting the very same losing battle.”
The secondary characters surprised me in some ways, not just with some revelations and twist that Renée Ahdeih throw in the story but also with how I feel about them. I didn’t expect to changed my opinion of Tariq. From the first book, I honestly didn’t like the guy but in this installment he grew on me, to the point that I wished him happiness. Shahrzad sister, Irsa is also a surprising addition. I’m really glad that Renée’s gave her more part in this final installment. She’s a delight to read just like her sister Shahrzad. Rahim end up a favourite of mine, his loyalty has no bound. A true friend and brother not just to Tariq but to every people he care.
“Sometimes,… the family you choose . . . is stronger than blood.”
Then Despina and Jalal, I did wish that there more of them in this installment but as Khalid said,
“…wishes are for genies and the fools who believe in such things.”
With that, I’m just thankful that I have read part of Despina and Jalal story in The Moth and the Flame: A Wrath & the Dawn Short Story. It’s really a super short story but nonetheless a fun read that provides an extra glimpse to both characters and their relationship.
The magic/fantasy part of the story is a welcome addition. I love every bit of fantasy in this book. Magic carpet, winged serpent, genie, curses and black magic. The child in me rejoice with such things, reminds me of fairy tales I used to love when I was a kid.
On the whole, The Rose & The Dagger is a triumph in many ways. With Renée Ahdeih’s beautiful writing and complex story telling, characters that will surely intrigue and warm your heart, and a world that will makes you want to live inside or get lost into, this book is a perfect ending to an amazing story. Completely engrossing, ravishing, heart-stopping and magical.
I sincerely hope you give this duo-logy a try, because I suspect just about every YA fantasy readers will have the reaction that I have for this series – instant and utter adoration.