The Rose & The Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

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“Cut the strings, Shazi. Fly.”

     Rating: ★★★★ | 4.5 stars

Release Date: April 26th, 2016

Reading Dates: January 1st – 7th

Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Romance, Young Adult

Spoilers: Minor Spoilers. Read at your own risk

Page Count: 416

Warning: per usual contains some strong language and lots of gifs

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.   – Goodreads

SQUEALS OF HAPPINESS

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As a series overall this is a fantastic duology!

YOU WILL READ THIS SERIES & YOU WILL LOVE JALAL AND DESPINA & YOU WILL FANGIRL WITH ME!

“From the stars to the stars.”

Can we take a moment and appreciate these damn covers? The beautiful sky blue with golden daggers and roses. Open the cover and see a girl with beautiful dark skin. That side eye! Mmm-mmm the billowing red silky dress with gold jewelry and embellishments. Honestly, these covers and one of the most satisfying series on my shelf. While I don’t like the paperbacks as much they are still decently beautiful.

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All of the characters are my precious babies. Especially, Despina, Shazi, Khalid, Jalal, Rahim, Irsa & The Rajput!

Let’s first get my little bit of shit with this book out of the way!

Salim Ali el-Sharif:

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It’s is in his name. Salim. Salim pretty much another way to spell Selim and I don’t like Selim. Specially Selim II (Sultan of The Ottoman Empire). Fortunately, Renée doesn’t really intend for us to like Salim. Salim is a major douchebag that really needs to get his priorities sorted out. Seriously, I don’t see how so many wonderful people can be spawned from such a man as this. Apparently, it can.

Reza bin – Latief:

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Gotta keep that aesthetic poppin’

Unlike with Salim, I don’t have any weird associations. Okay, that is a lie. I do think of Reza Saberi (who you’ve probably never heard of. He is the father of Iranian-American Journalist Roxana Saberi who was imprisoned in Iran’s Evin Prison and wrote a book about it. I am currently reading that book at the moment.) But  I didn’t give two shits about what happened to him. Unlike Salim who I was so happy to see getting his ass kicked I just didn’t think Reza was a useful character. He was kind of just a useless anti-hero who fits with the whole evil uncle scenario everyone seems to be suffering from in this world. When he gets his payback I just shrugged eh and moved on. That is literally how much I do not care about this dude.

The men in this book are….. ridiculous.

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Cihangir doesn’t have time for your shit.

I am so sorry, but the actions of the men in this book is ridiculous. I can’t even handle it sometimes. It’s like in the poem Novel by Arthur Rimbaud, you are ridiculous.

heavy breathing. It.Will.Be.Okay.Tova

Salim.Reza.Tariq.  Did you mean ridiculous?

Google may you let me repent all my sins on my knees for all the times I have doubted you before.

 

 

Yes, that is exactly what I mean Google. Good job! That is a first.

Too little Despina & Jalal. I NEED MORE JESPINA!

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You know how in almost every YA book ever the main character’s have non-existant/dead/terrible parents. Well, Shazi has a terrible ass father but many of the other characters (mostly Khalid) suffer from the ‘terrible father-in-law’ and ‘terrible fatherly/uncle figures syndrome’ to boot.

I mean I get why Ava’s dad would a little pissed *cough* furious *cough* with Khalid following her death. I think it was pretty obvious she was depressed and extremely unhappy and honestly someone should have done something (not pointing any fingers). But then again how much can you really expect from a sixteen/seventeen-year-old human of the male gender who’s watched his mother get murdered, who’s father was a terrible human and who just happens to have the power to control the world at his fingertips. YOU SHOULDN’T EXPECT THAT MUCH. He’s a teenage guy. Have you met a teenager male before? They tend to be clueless. And as Cait pointed out that forKhalid to watch his father murder his mother (at the age of 6) WOULD BE KINDA DAMAGING

 

The Characters: 

Shahrzad al-Khayzuran

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Shazi, my precious child. She’s such a lovely character and I loved her development in this book. I will admit that it was a little ridiculous at how little time it took for her to fall for Khalid (especially after she vowed to murder him.) She’s beautiful, bold, brave and feisty. She doesn’t care about what people say about her husband she loves Khalid with a fierce, fiery passion that isn’t conquered by anything even the prejudices of her families, friends, and her people. I love her strength and I am so happy how Shazi and Khalid’s story ended! They deserve the happiest of forever afters.

Khalid Ibn al-Rashid

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Khalid, Khalid. I don’t know what it is about you but I love you. You’re a monster, but even monsters have hearts. I can’t judge your actions, you don’t know any better.  You’ve done some shitty things and I do expect you to try and repair things but I feel like the love and connection you share with Shazi will blossom into a whole lot more than just Haroun. Possibly, even a whole new world!

Jalal al-Khoury

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 Captian Jalal al-Khoury. Will you marry me? Seriously, that is all I aspire to in life. Okay, that is a lie. I have aspiration other than marrying a fictional character. Jalal is literally everything I could possibly want. He is kind, sweet, considerate, caring, affectionate, wise-cracking, intelligent, good looking, mysterious, open, calm, collected and most of all passionate and unafraid to express his feelings, emotions, thoughts, and actions. He is 100% underappreciated (especially by somebody *glares at Despina*). And all I want in this world is to see Jalal happy, with Despina by his side because those two own a large section of my heart.

Jalal circa pg. 387 probably

Despina el-Sharif

My precious Despina. I love Despina because she is Despina and nothing more. Despina is a spunky, feisty, beautiful, smart, snarky, sarcastic badass who is a little too stubborn but I love her from the bottom of my heart and beyond. She is by far my favorite character in this series and I thank Renée Ahdieh’s lucky stars every single day for creating this beautiful human being. While admittedly this book was majorly lacking in cute scenes between Jalal and Despina but that is part of the trial of loving the side characters more than the protagonists. Jespina or Dalal are my otp and I wish Renée would write a spinoff following their romance. That is all I desire from Renée in the future. I am excited to see if I love any of the characters from ‘A Flame In The Mist’ as much as I do Despina.

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Tariq  Imran al-Ziyad

I will never understand the point of Tariq. With most YA books with love triangles I can appreciate and like both of the love interest but in this book Tariq is literally so pointless. I don’t hate him, but I just don’t give two shits about his problems. Honestly, I think Tariq needs to see the bridge that is the “relationship” between him & Shazi and get over it! As Omar says, “[a] shared history does not entitle you to a future, my friend.” Omar, my friend you are a very smart human. If only Tariq would listen. I hate Tariq and I need him to just go away. Stop trying, because it’s not working and it’s not going to work. Haven’t you figured our what your part of the love triangle trope you fulfill?

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Me reading this book and then my face when Tariq comes into the scene.

Irsa al-Khayzuran

Irsa was one of those characters that I feel pretty ambivalent towards. I don’t dislike her, but then again I don’t love her. Honestly, I felt the romance between her and Rahim wasn’t something that needed to happen, but regardless it was cute. It was kind depressing for Irsa during the end but I think she’ll find happiness. Honestly, Irsa seemed a little too mature. I admit that I don’t like seeing or reading about characters who so much younger than I am who are more mature because it makes me feel like an irresponsible mess.

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Artan Temujin

At first, I did not like Artan. I actually didn’t like him until I was finished with the book and I realized that compared to a lot of the other guys, he’s okay. He’s not in the way of my ships. He’s magical. His’s personality kind of reminds of a charismatic version of Aaron Burr. At the end of the end of the day, I think he is kind of a cool addition, but I don’t feel particularly attached to him. He gave me major Robin William’s Genie vibes (from Disney’s Aladdin).

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Rahim al- Din Walad

Rahim. I didn’t realize until I read a recap of the first book that Rahim was one of Tariq’s BFF’s but when I did that did not make me judge him as a person. Honestly, I don’t remember caring much about the smaller characters in the first one (besides Despina and Jalal because I read that book before I was serious about book reviews). But I found Rahim to quite agreeable. As I said with Irsa, their romance wasn’t really needed but it was cute. He was nice, kind, good looking, gentle and not overly perfect which suits Irsa’s persona which worked well but he’s not a super stand out for me personally. But I’m sad that Rahim’s life had to come to an end in such a fashion. 

Musa Zaragoza

Musa is the equivalent of a badass grandpa. He is old, wise, and a total savage when it comes to sassy comebacks. I loved his sense of humor, his personality, but also his supreme intelligence and guidance. He really cared for Khalid which was so sweet. He never truly gave up on Khalid which I appreciate on so many levels. I would love to seem more of his background and character, though.

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Vikram Singh a.k.a The Rajput

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The Rajput was a very fascinating character from the first moment I met him {Despina & The Rajput}. But seeing his more human side in this install mate fascinated me. I can’t help but admit that when I learned that his last name las Singh I imagined Lilly Singh (from ||Superwoman|| on YouTube). I was thrown off kilter when Despina ran off with Vikram though. At least he would have been a good foster father to the Jespina baby.

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Shoutout to Aisha, Yasmine el- Sharif, and Omar al-Sadiq for being fairly awesome characters, but you didn’t have big enough parts for me to write a whole paragraph about you but I liked all of your as characters!

What my heart felt like at the end of this book!

 

The Plot was a bit slow at times, but then again at other times it was perfectly paced, with twists turns and moment that made my heart pound. I am so excited for A Flame in The Mist to be released!

 As my friend Laura on P.S, I Love That Book puts it, Despina who has more secrets than A in Pretty Little Liars. Which is, a decent observation in my humble opinion.

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Page 387:

Oh, my f**king gods. It took 387 f**king pages for them to kiss and admit they like each other. GOD.

I don’t like math but here I am going to do some math for you.

The Wrath & The Dawn is 388 pages {only 1 more page than it took for them to do it}

The Rose & The Dagger is: 416 pages { 93.0 % of the way through}

Footage of me being bitter about my babies not being happy together

 

As Macklemore says: Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a T-shirt, that’s just some ignorant bitch (Shit)
I call that getting swindled and pimped (Shit)

As I say: Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition. 387 pages for a kiss, that’s just ridiculous. I call that getting swindled and ripped off.

Yes, I do. That a total of 804 pages. That is 387 pages too late.

That means it took about 700+ pages for Jalal and Despina to get their shit together and admit that they actually really like each other and that they belong together. As if Despina is pregnant with Jalal’s child. I mean – THEY HAD SEX. People don’t have sex with people they don’t like. Especially, if that someone is Despina.

‘In an instant, she made a decision. Despina could not tell Jalal about his child. He could never know what this meant to her. He could never learn how much she loved him.
She would never give any man that kind of power over her.
No. Despina would continue working at the palace until she could hide the truth no longer.
Then she would set her world straight, once and for all. This child would not be raised to fear or hate the world around it. Be made to bow and cower to lesser men.
No. The world around this child would bow first.’ (- The Moth & The Flame)

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Essentially, I need to read The Moth & The Flame. Uncle Kurt, you have made this possible and I thank you wholeheartedly!

When Jalal and Khalid fought I admit my heart hurt a little bit. WHY? I get it you both messed up and sent each other’s girlfriends away but you had your reasons. I think Jalal has a little more to complain about honestly. Khalid was clueless and didn’t realize that Despina was the girl that Jalal has knocked up. I feel like he should have noticed but whatever.

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When Jalal slapped Khalid I was just like: Aw Snap!

Really, though I need the two of them to make up. And make up quick because I will not stand to have my precious babies angry at each other for very long.

The Aladdin Aesthetic of this book was on fleek!

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The part when Tariq is snooping in Shazi’s thing was hilarious because of this quote:

“I despise figs.”

“This? Tariq understood. Completely.”

So according to this ^^ Tariq also despises figs. Well, you could start a club!

Also this:

“Khalid did not like surprises.”

 

THE EPILOGUE! THAT EPILOGUE SLEW ME.

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I’m not crying, you’re crying.

“I love you, Baba!”

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Hanoun, my heart ❤

Cut the strings, Hanoun. Fly! Fly away on the magic carpet of dreams!

Overall this was a well-written sequel full of the feels, fits of anger, angst, beautiful romance, beautiful characters and most of all a satisfying ending. Thank you, Renée! But I really wouldn’t mind if you wrote a series surrounding Amira al-Khoury and Hanoun  Ibn al-Rashid.

“For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you.”

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