The Rose & The Dagger by Renee Aldieh
I flew through The Wrath and the Dawn (check out my review here) a few months ago, and I quickly picked up the second one right after. The book ends in insanity, and I simply needed to know what happened with my beloved Shazi and Khalid next. I’m not really sure what happened after that, but someone it got lost in the shuffle of my giant TBR. And just like the magic carpet in the book, this book had a pull on me to read it and I just had to devour it as soon as possible. I also credit this book for helping me to semi-get me out of the ACOMAF book slump.
(You do need to read The Wrath and the Dawn before you read this one. They cannot be read as standalones.)
Once Upon a Time…
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.
While I did have some qualms in The Wrath and the Dawn, The Rose & The Dagger definitely made up for them. The biggest issue I had with the first book is that I didn’t feel super connected to the characters. They were just kind of there. However, in this book, I fell hard for the characters. I loved them, rooted for them, and felt all the feels with them. I loved Shazi and Khalid and even the new additions of main characters including Shazi’s sister and Tariq’s friend. Every new character I enjoyed, and I found that missing connection I had in the first one with all of the characters in this book.
Shazi was also such a great main character. She was so fierce and strong, and Mulan (hint, hint) would have been so proud of the butt-kicking she did. She loved hard and showed it through all that she did. She makes such a great calipha, and I would certainly want her ruling over my kingdom.
Aldieh’s writing only got more beautiful as well. One of the biggest thing I missed, though, was Shazi’s story. Aldieh’s storytelling abilities are magical, and while there were a few in here, I missed this aspect. Aldieh’s beautiful writing style still shines through, though.
The romance was so good, too, though. I had enjoyed Khalid and Shazi’s romance in the first book, but the ship took to new levels, though. The feels were toooo real here. The other ships were great as well, and they all sailed so well for me, too, but Khalid and Shazi were my ultimate.
The only thing, though, that took off a crown was the beginning. It took me a while to get in the book. It started off a little too slow for me, and once Khalid and Shazi starting communicating and that lovely magic carpet got back in use, it was offfff from there. I loved the twists and turns, and there was so much action. I loved it. I just wished the beginning didn’t take as long to get into, but I understand it was needed.
Four crowns and Mulan/Jasmine rating – Mulan for Shazi being an epic, fierce warrior and Jasmine since she is inspired by Arabian Nights, just like Shazi! Now, I shall just patiently wait for The Flame In the Mist…which is supposed to be a Mulan-type novel. Huh. Ironic this book got a Mulan rating?
Check it out:
What do you think? Have you read either of these books? Have you ever connected more with a sequel than a first book? Let’s discuss in the comments below!