“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.”
Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath & the Dawn and The Rose & the Dagger. If you have not finished reading this duology, please come back when you have!
The Rose & the Dagger picks up after the storm that wreaked havoc on Rey, leaving many families destroyed and without homes. Shazi has fled the palace, staying in a rebel camp with Tariq and her family. Khalid is trying to contain the damage done by the magical book Shazi’s father stole, damage he believes was caused by the curse placed on him. And on top of all this chaos, Khalid and Shazi must find a way to destroy the curse and bring peace to Rey.
This sequel took me a long time to finish. Mostly, this was due to the horribly slow pacing that overwhelms the first half of the book. While I appreciated witnessing Shazi’s tense interactions with the rebels in camp and Khalid’s assistance with the rebuilding of Rey, there was way too much sneaking around cities and it felt unnecessary.
That said, the final 100 pages of this novel are absolutely on par with the first installment in the duology. They’re fast-paced and action packed, almost too much so. I wish this section would have taken up more of the book. I was surprised at how much Rahim’s death affected me, and the twist regarding Despina felt well-placed as well.
I was pleased that Renee delved deeper into Shazi’s powers in this installment, though we still never learn the basic rules of magic in this world – who has powers and who doesn’t? How exactly do these powers function? Shazi does befriend another magician from the fire temple, and eventually masters her own powers, but there’s still little explanation as to the overall mechanics. I know we learn how Shazi’s powers work, but I was looking for something on a grander scale). I’m a fan of a well-constructed magic system, so I was disappointed in that.
Another small gripe I had while reading this has to do with the ease in which Khalid is forgiven by almost everyone that spends more than an hour in his presence. I like Khalid as a complex character, but the way this book is written makes it far too easy to overlook the fact that he has murdered a number of innocent girls, only later realizing that yes, he had a choice in the matter. I think I would have liked it better if he’d paid for his actions at the end, in some currency beyond mere guilt.
I gave The Rose & the Dagger a 3 out of 5 star rating on Goodreads. It was nowhere near as good as its predecessor, but the final chapters reignited my interest enough to give Ahdieh’s other books a chance. Flame in the Mist, here I come.
What are your thoughts on The Rose & the Dagger? Let’s discuss them in the comments below!