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