Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Summary: “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.” (Summary found on Goodreads).
“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.”
I’m beginning to see the story of Shahrzad and Khalid as told my Renée Ahdieh as one of the most iconic and beautiful love stories ever have I read. They strive to have an equal relationship, a balance between them that does not usurp the other, that does not threaten the other. This is how all relationships should be, I believe, romantic or platonic. There should never be one person in the relationship who has control, it should be equal. My inner feminist loves their relationship to infinity and beyond.
I will admit, The Wrath & the Dawn was a far better novel. I still loved The Rose & the Dagger, don’t get me wrong, but so much of the book was spent with Khalid and Shahrzad split. At times it became a little tedious and I didn’t care as much about the side plots.
I did like that Ahdieh explored the magic more (if you remember from my TW&TD review, I found it rather underdeveloped), but some parts of it still seemed flawed and untouched. In all honesty, I would have preferred this book to have avoided material magic and stuck to the idea of a curse and its impact on Khalid. I think that would have been a much more effective way of going about fantasy without magic carpets and flame-throwing lessons.
“That is not the way of it. Your future is not set in stone, my dearest star. A coin turns on itself a number of times before it lands.”
It’s been awhile since I actually did finish this book–more than a month–but I still remember how breathtakingly emotional that ending was. There were tears in my eyes. I don’t cry often, so I think that says a lot, doesn’t it?
As well, it must be acknowledged that this novel explores some wonderful themes about family, love, and commitment. It touches upon what people will do to obtain power and the lengths they will go to. Without going into spoilers, I found the conflict between Shahrzad and her father both tragic and riveting. I often love when books explore characters who believe what they are doing is right for everyone (similar to the concept of the greater good), but actually isn’t. I especially loved the way Ahdieh handled this portion of the plot.
In all, The Rose & the Dagger was more of a social exploration of the effects of the events in book one while still tying up loose ends and building up to a whole lot of climactic action. It was slow at times, but still rather wonderful. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for this duology…I just wish it were longer.
“Destiny was for fools. Sharzad would not wait for her life to happen. She would make it happen.”
I highly recommend picking this duology up. I have yet to see a single bad review of it. Ahdieh’s words are magical, truly, and I wish to be blessed by more of them in the future. She is such a talented author with such a talented mind. Hopefully I can read A Flame in the Mist soon!