The Rose and The Dagger

The second of The Wrath and The Dawn duology, The Rose and The Dagger picks up directly where its predecessor left off.


Shahrzad has left Khorasan and journeyed into the desert with Tariq where she is reunited with her family. Much to her horror, however, it appears that her father, Jahandar, had something to do with the attack on the capital city, but Shahrzad cannot determine what. All she knows is that is has something to do with the magic in his blood, the same magic that is in her own veins, and a mysterious but dangerous book. Now, Shahrzad finds herself a guest of Omar el-Sadig, a Badawi emir, and, as the Calipha, the target of many people’s hostility.

But all Shahrzad wants is to return to Khalid. In her attempts to return to his side, she begins to use the magic carpet given to her by Musa Zaragosa and seeks out the mage at his Fire Temple. While visiting, Shazi meets Artan Temujin, a descendant of the creators of Jahandar’s book; he agrees to help Shazi find a way to lift Khalid’s curse. First, however, she must learn to use her magic, and Artan intends to be her teacher.

Meanwhile, Khalid is attempting to rebuild his city – often in disguise and as a commoner – and though he misses Shahrzad, he believes she is safer away from him while his curse remains. All is not well in the imperial palace as Khalid finds himself at odds with his cousin Jalil after Despina decides to leave with the Rajput.

Things become more complicated when Reza bin-Latief, Shiva’s father, makes a secret deal with the Sultan of Parthia, a deal that involves Shazi and Khorasan’s downfall. A deal that Jahandar may be involved in.

I was feeling a bit lukewarm with The Wrath and The Dawn but I was totally in love with The Rose and The Dagger. I enjoy stories with character development and holy moly was there some development going on in this story. The characters are so much richer and more developed in this second installment, which makes sense because the story has already been set up with its predecessor. At its core, this story is a love story, but Shazi and Khalid also focus on their relationships with other people, such as their family.

There’s just enough magic to add a fantasy element to this novel. But, again, what I really liked were the characters and their interactions and how many of them have changed from book one and continue to change. It’s not a happy ending for everyone, but it is a nice, wrapped up ending to a wonderful set of books.

My rating: 4.5/5

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Bitch Planet vol. 1

Occasionally I read comics. Since comics are technically books, I don’t see why I can’t review them.

The first comic/graphic novel I read in 2017 was Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro. It had taken me a while to actually read this comic despite how much I adore Kelly Sue’s writing, mostly because the visuals are gritty and not my usual aesthetic. With the events at the end of 2016, it was high time I finally dove into this comic.

BitchPlanet_vol1-1

Bitch Planet takes place in the not-so-distant future where those – mostly women – who do not conform to society’s “standards” are deemed non-compliant and sent off to an off world prison. What makes a person non-compliant could be a variety of things: committing a crime such as a murder, or merely being overweight can also be deemed not the norm. A variety of different women are featured, and each are non-compliant in their own way. The first volume mostly revolves around Kamau Kogo, a well-known athlete it appears but what is unclear is why she is non-compliant.

The story follows Kamau as she is given an unlikely proposition: to put together a group of women to participate in games that normally reject non-compliance. Kamau is determined to win and puts together a seemingly ragtag motley crew that work quite well together and have a shot at winning – until tragedy strikes.

The art of Bitch Planet is gritty and normally not my standard for comics, but De Landro’s style is quite suitable for this story. As an intersectional feminist, I found myself empathizing with the characters and detesting the society they live in – a society that isn’t that far removed from our own. Had I not read a Kelly Sue book before, I might not have been inclined to pick this title up. As it stands, Kelly Sue writes excellent stories for a variety of themes and reasons and I really did like Bitch Planet.

Volume 2 is released soon (it not already) and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

My rating: 4/5

The Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone

OMG! I’m so sorry! I’ve been so busy with grad school and work and trying to read that I keep neglecting this blog. I promise I will do better! It’s taken me a bit but I’ve figured out how to budget my time better so I hope to get back on a weekly posting schedule.

Anyways!

I had another book planned for posting but I haven’t had the chance to take photos of it yet so instead I’m going to just ahead.


Shadow and Bone is the first of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy and it set in the same mystical world that her Six of Crows series is in. The Grisha Trilogy, however, takes place a few years before Six of Crows and introduces some characters that make an appearance in Crooked Kingdom.

Alina Starkov is an cartographer apprentice in war torn Ravka. She and her best friend Mal were raised in an orphanage by a benevolent Duke and when they came of age enlisted in the army. While Alina is a mere map making apprentice, Mal is one of the best trackers in the First Army. When their units receive word that they are to cross the Shadow Fold, a mysterious darkened region that separates Ravka’s two halves, Alina has her reservations. The Shadow Fold is supposedly occupied by monsters; even with Grisha – powerful sorcerers – on their side, how is the First Army supposed to safely cross?

Alina’s fears are realized when the vessel carrying her and Mal is attacked and Mal is badly injured. Helpless but refusing to leave his side, Alina suddenly unleashes a power she did not have. After returning from the Fold, Alina meets the mysterious and powerful Darkling, the only Grisha able to control shadow and darkness. It is from him that Alina discovers that she is a Sun Summoner, a rare Grisha talent that rivals the Darkling’s own powers.

Sent to the Little Palace in Ravka’s capital to train, Alina finds her new life difficult to adjust to. She has trouble summoning her power at will, but no one knows why. Her life is further complicated by homesickness for Mal and a growing attraction for the Darkling. But the Darkling is not all that he seems, and soon Alina is running from a life of comfort in order to preserve her freedom and growing power.

Shadow and Bone is Leigh Bardugo’s debut novel. I rather enjoyed her style in Six of Crows, but I didn’t enjoy Shadow and Bone quite as much. For one thing, it is written in first person. Have I mentioned before how I do not enjoy stories written in first person as much? The pacing is a bit slower than Six of Crows; this doesn’t bother me as much since Shadow and Bone is the first of three novels, but it did seem to linger a little too long in the beginning.

While I don’t think I’ll enjoy the Grisha Trilogy quite as much as Six of Crows, it is still a little too early to say. I definitely plan to continue on as one of the characters mentioned in Crooked Kingdom has yet to appear, and I am pretty sure he will be my favorite. 🙂

My rating: 3.5/5