The Rose & the Dagger: The Wrath & the Dawn, Book 2

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
The Rose & the Dagger: The Wrath & the Dawn, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Satisfying sequel with surprising magical twists.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

This two-book series is an homage to "Arabian Nights" (or "1001 Nights"), shortening the storyteller's name from Scheherazade to Shahrzad. Only a few quick stories are told in Book 2. A glossary of Persian terms and places is available at the end of Book 1. The magic may not be historically accurate, but references to foods eaten, weapons used, clothing worn, and titles of nobles are.

Positive Messages

No individual can reach his or her potential without the love of others. The desire for power clouds judgment and is a weakness here. Shahrzad tells her husband, "True strength isn't about sovereignty. It's about knowing when you need help and having the courage to accept it." And straight from the cover of the paperback edition: It does not take courage to kill. It takes courage to love.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Four female characters find their power and their voices in this book, not accepting the subservient roles they've been given. Shahrzad finds the bravery to explore her magical talents and convinces Khalid to both accept help and seek peace with some difficult allies.

Violence

Some bloodshed in skirmishes with swords and arrows. One beloved character dies of a sword wound with lots of blood, another suffers an arrow wound, with details on how the shaft is broken and arrow is removed. Another character dies from a magic spell. A sexual assault is barely averted. A drugging and kidnapping. A magical burn injury that leaves scarring. Talk of all the wives killed just after their weddings and people killed after a terrible storm ruins a town. Mentions of Shahrzad's mother dying of a wasting sickness and Khalid's mother killed in front of him.

Sex

Sex between Khalid and Shahrzad with most emphasis on the kissing and touching. A kiss between two other characters.

Language

"Bastard son of a whore" is as bad as it gets, with a few mentions of "bitch," "ass," "hell," and "dammit."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine drinking at dinners and in the desert. Shahrzad (age 16) and Tariq, also young, get very drunk to break the tension between them. Shahrzad wakes up the next day and throws up.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Rose & the Dagger is the second in the two-book The Wrath & the Dawn series that combines elements of the "1001 Nights" (or "Arabian Nights") within a fantasy love story. Here the caliph's bride and storyteller is Shahrzad, not Scheherazade. By this sequel, Shahrzad shows more of her strength by fighting to lift the curse her husband is under that convinced him to kill all his previous brides and nearly destroyed his city. There are a few skirmishes with swords and arrows. One beloved character dies of a sword wound with lots of blood, another suffers an arrow wound, with details on how the shaft is broken and arrow is removed. Another dies from a magic spell. A sexual assault is barely averted, and a character is drugged and kidnapped. Married characters have sex with kissing and touching described, and language doesn't get worse than "bastard son of a whore." One scene of heavy drinking finds the teen Calipha throwing up the next day.

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What's the story?

In THE ROSE & THE DAGGER, Shahrzad is whisked away to a desert encampment after the city and palace of Rey are nearly destroyed. She reluctantly leaves behind her husband, the embattled Caliph, to keep his curse from causing more bloodshed. A good reason to flee, but in the encampment, which also houses her jilted ex, Tariq, and bands of fighters preparing to oust the Caliph, she's hardly safe. Not long after she arrives, a mercenary tries to kill her and threatens her sister Irsa. The only thing that keeps Shahrzad there is Irsa and her father, who's nearly comatose after stretching his magic with the use of a powerful book. Watching her father's slow recovery, Shahrzad fears his book will do more harm. She decides to find out more about it, and needs magic of her own to do it. Sneaking out at night, she tries out a small magic carpet and seeks out the magus who gave it to her. She hopes that he will not only help save her father but help her break her husband's horrible curse, as well.

Is it any good?

This satisfying sequel is mostly a star-crossed love story with a light sprinkling of flying carpet magic. Relationships get the most attention here, and with such compelling characters as Shahrzad and Khalid, it's a good focus to have. Author Renee Ahdieh goes all in with resolving conflicts between Khalid and Shahrzad's childhood love, Tariq -- this was well done -- and with improving Shahrzad's relationship with her often neglected sister. And complex political relationships, with the twists and turns of palace intrigue, stay intriguing to the end.

But can we get back to the magic carpets for a second? And a flying serpent and a fire guy and his crazy magical aunt in a secluded mountain hideaway? The Rose & the Dagger would have been astounding on all fronts if Ahdieh went all in here, as well, embracing the magical world just as much. Fantasy fans will long for more.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the female characters in The Rose & the Dagger and the whole The Wrath & the Dawn series. How do Shahrzad, Irsa, Despina, and Yasmine change? How do they defy the traditional roles set for them? How does each discover her own power?

  • A few characters greatly desire power. How does it cloud their judgment? Who is hurt by this vice in the end?

  • Will you read more from this author? Does this series make you more interested in Middle Eastern history?

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