Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Melia Publishing Services Ltd (23rd May 2016)
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.
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Oh how I waited for this glorious, glorious book after I ravenously finished The Wrath and The Dawn back in December last year (the review of course, for which, can be found here) (also please excuse me if I keep using food related works like delicious and ravenous - I wrote this review as I was fasting for Ramadan, you can guess what it is that I keep thinking about).
After getting my hands on this book and speeding my way through, I sat there, finished, with a little ball of content in my belly - as opposed to the raging fireball I had upon finishing the first book.
The Rose and the Dagger still has the same elements I loved - Ahdieh’s beautiful writing that lets you go through the book with ease, punctuated with delicate and subtle poetry, taking the book from being just a quick read, to something that holds your attention and swallow the words that little bit longer. (Sorry, again with food related references).
Yet the bulk of the story failed to keep me as interested - it was okay, good to an extent, which warrants the 4 stars I’ve given it, but it didn’t do anything more to me, didn’t provoke any feelings of anguish except probably, only once, and it happens with something or someone beginning with the letter ‘R’ - this is my attempt at avoiding spoilers.
The first book was intense, we had a lot going on, being introduced to the characters, the storyline and romance developing - with the second book I expected new characters - which we of course got - but not enough detail into their story - and where we did get background on some characters, like Artan, I felt confused about what it was he could do and why he was seen as dangerous and hidden away or the curse he was bound to. I feel like there are bits in the story that could be explained further, in a simple manner, rather than be wrapped in poetry and mystery.
The different subplots, like with Shazi’s father, and Tariq, amongst others, eventually came together for a fitting conclusion but I still felt like they were each stiff on their own, lacking in umphhhh for lack of a better word. There was no real fire, pun intended, in this book, nothing that got me really excited, even when it came to Shazi and her own discoveries. Everything felt too watered down.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it to the extent that I finished it. There were some fairly decent twists that I didn’t see coming *cough Despina* but even then, it just wasn’t enough to be this raging story to match the first book.
I loved Shazi and Khalid still - their bond only strengthened in this story, for which I was glad, and it’s always a bonus to see the people you ship go through turbulent times together. Same with Jalal - oh how he was tested that poor loveable rogue. I loved seeing these three and their dynamic as usual. As for other characters? My goodness, how Tariq annoyed me. I never REALLY liked him from the first book to be honest, he felt like too much of a ragged character that was there simply just … there. And he continued to be just there in this book too. He had his own personality, traits - but they were everything I didn’t like LOL or maybe I’m just wholesomely biased with the character of Khalid and anything opposing him in my eyes is just not good enough.
Isra’s character was kind of a love/hate one - I think I did like her and what she stood for, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t annoyed by her still LOL I was pleased to see that she retained core bits of her characteristics and didn’t just suddenly turn brave and courageous - she still had fear, she was still caught up between things, and I’m glad the author didn’t just suddenly turn her into this fearless character to match Shazi.
At the end of it all, I can say that this book was still good - there were elements of the story I didn’t like, developments that I thought should have happened, but still, I finished this book and as always, that says a lot. While it’s not the raging ball of amazingness that The Wrath and The Dawn was, it’s still a good book in it’s own rights and worthy to be read as the sequel in the series.