“When I was in the desert, I woke each day and carried on with my life, but it wasn’t living; it was merely existing. I want to live. You are where I live.”
Blurb (Goodreads)- 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.
Thoughts- The Rose & The Dagger picks up shortly after the events of The Wrath & The Dawn, and not only as a sequel, but as a concluding novel, it was another great read in this series. Out of the two, I do prefer the first book, and while this one has some fantastic elements, I do feel it is a bit flawed.
Before we jump into all of the stuff that I absolutely loved about this book, let me address my two issues I had. Even more than TWaTD, this book suffers from a very slow start. For the first book, it took me around 40 pages to be completely immersed and invested, however, in The Rose & The Dagger took me nearly 150 pages to not put it down. The beginning definitely threw me off for quite a while. The final thing is that the characterization of much of our cast felt off. It was fixed by the very end of the novel, but throughout the majority of the book, the characters voice and actions were disconcerting.
And yet, I still adored this installment! First of all, Ahdieh has that absolutely gorgeous prose that I can just read all day. While this style can perhaps be overwhelming at times, I simply never get sick of it simply because it is so beautiful to read. Ahdieh also weaves another intoxicating story full of (very swoon worthy) romance, magic, and betrayal.
Even though Shahrzad made some very interesting choices in the beginning, I still love our Brat Calipha. She’s snarky and strong as ever, and seeing her interactions with her reunited family was so nice to read. Watching her struggle and adapt without Khalid, and to deal with her father is so heartbreaking. Speaking of family, Shazi’s sister Irsa, is actually a fully fledged character now, and I love her so much! She has her similarities with Shahrzad, but is still her own unique person. Out of all the characters in this novel, I think Irsa and Tariq grew the most. As much as it pains me to say it, by the last 75-50 pages I think I actually like Tariq (although he’s still my least favorite in the series by quite a bit).
In my personal opinion, there was not enough romance (or interaction in general) between Khalid and Shahrzad. We spent 300 some pages growing to love these two in the first book, and then they spend a good portion of the sequel apart! Don’t get me wrong, their reunions are then absolute perfection, but I simply want to see more of them together when one of them wasn’t dying or injured. We also get a new romance appearing, between Rahim and Irsa! These two are also super cute, and I honestly think they had some better scenes then Kahlid and Shahrzad.
Overall, this book definitely has some flaws because I think it suffered from not only being the second in a series (which always seems to be a weak book), but having so much hype around the first one. Yet, I still quite enjoyed my read and definitely recommend picking it up if you’ve read this first book.