After reading Flame in the Mist back in the summer, I was desperate to read more books by Renee Ahdieh, and so last month I finally picked up her first book, The Wrath and the Dawn, before then going onto to finish the duology by reading The Rose and the Dagger in January. I am someone who never marathons series, and so the fact that I only read one books between finishing the first book and picking up the second just tells you how excited I was to continue on with this story. And so, because I did not have the time to write and post a review for The Wrath and the Dawn before I had started The Rose and The Dagger but still really wanted to do so, I decided to just combine my reviews and talk about both books in one post instead of two. I’ve never done this series review type post before, but its something that I would really like to try again in the future, so hopefully more of these type posts might be coming some point soon.
But for now, here are some of my thoughts on The Wrath and the Dawn Duology by Renee Ahdieh!
The entire premise of this duology is that it’s a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, and so follows Shazi as she volunteers to become the kings new bride in attempt to avenge her best friend, who became one of his many brides who he takes only to murder them come the dawn. I’ve only recently began to delve into retellings, and so I was really excited to read this book for that reason, especially as it is based on a story that I was not 100% familiar with beforehand. I ended up really enjoying this aspect of the story, which is definitely most prominent at the beginning of the first book, especially because of the storytelling aspect of it, but I also loved watching how this book diverged and began to create its own story from it. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the court politics and so also the storylines surrounding then, as well as the introduction of magic and the small part this played in this first book.
The Rose and the Dagger, on the other hand, moved almost entirely away from the retelling aspect of the story, and focused much more on both the politics of this world, and the magic aspect of this story. For the majority of this book, these felt like two very different storylines, and so for me this made the story feel slightly more disjointed and not as cohesive as they different plots did in the first book. Nonetheless, I still absolutely loved where the story went in this second book, and I really enjoyed how it grew and evolved into its own story from the retelling.
Both of these books did take me a little while to get into, but once I did there was no way I was putting them down. As soon as I had got a taste of the story, the characters and world, the pace really began to pick up and move the story along a little bit more than it had been. Because of this, I actually found the pacing of both books to work really well, as we didn’t dive straight into a complicated, fast paced plot, but rather got to know the characters and the basic story before things started to really develop.
One thing that this duology confirmed for me is how good Renee Ahdieh is at writing large casts of characters. The number of different side characters we got, each of whom was so well written, was one of my favourite things about Flame in the Mist, and so its not surprising how happy I was when I this book was much the same. Again we were introduced to so many amazing characters that really helped to flesh out this story and this world, as we got to explore so many different perspectives within the story.
As the first book in this series focuses alot more on the retelling aspect of the story, we got to see alot of Shahrzad and Khalid within it, something which I did not have a problem with in the slightest. I quickly fell in love with them both, and so I loved how much we were able to learn about and explore both of their characters in The Wrath and the Dawn. Shazi is instantly presented as a strong female lead who I really grew to love ,and who I found to be realistic, particularly in the conflict she faced over her emotions throughout the story.
You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure.
Khalid on the other hand is instantly set up as almost the villain of the story, and so I found reading about and learning more about his character extremely interesting as we began to see the real person behind all the stories. He ended up being a character who I really enjoyed reading about because his crimes aren’t excused, and he is definitely still presented as a morally grey character, and yet we are still able to see that he isn’t the monster you first expect him to be.
On top of them, I also really liked many of the other characters we meet in The Wrath and the Dawn, such as Jalal and Despina. As I said before, Renee Ahdieh is so good at writing side characters and creating them into their own individual person who is memorable and developed even if we do not see them as much as the likes of Khalid and Shazi. In fact, the only character who I wasn’t the biggest fan of was Tariq, and even then I found his character to really grow in The Rose and the Dagger as he began to finally accept and respect Shazi and her decisions.
However, without trying to spoilt too much, in The Rose and the Dagger we get to see alot more of characters such as Tariq and Isra, who we didn’t see a ton of in the first book. I really enjoyed exploring these characters who we didn’t yet know as well as we knew the likes of Khalid and Shazi. Considering how little we saw of Irsa in The Wrath and the Dawn, I was so surprised how quickly I grew to like her as a character, as well as how much she herself grew in the space of just one book. She started out as this quiet and innocent young girl but slowly she begins to gain that strength and become so much more than just Shazi’s younger sister, which is exactly how I saw her in book one. Rahim was another who really surprised me, as in a similar way to Irsa we began to really explore his character and see him as the amazingly kind and loyal person that he is rather than just Tariq’s friend.
But as much as I liked the characters, I adored the romance in both of these books so much more. I loved how well written all of the different romances and relationships were in both of these books, as each one seems to develop in its own time, with none of them being insta-lovey or forced in any way.
As I mentioned above, the first book focuses a lot more on Shazi and Khalid, so it makes sense that their relationship is also the one that we focus on for most of the book. And once again, this was not something that I was complaining about. At first I was a little nervous about how their relationship was going to develop, as the backdrop of this book obviously shows Khalid to be a pretty horrible person who I didn’t really think I would want to ship with anyone going into this book. However, as both we and Shazi get to see more and more of his character, it was inevitable that I would begin to want something to happen between them. I adored the slow build up to their relationship, as well as the conflict both of them had over it, something very natural considering the situation they were in, and the trust they eventually managed to establish between them. All in all, I just think that they work so well together and I could not get enough of their relationship.
My soul sees its equal in you.
Again, whilst The Rose and the Dagger definitely still has some focus on Shazi and Khalid, its also allows us to see some other relationship develop, including one of favourites, Isra and Rahim. Considering how little we knew of these two after the first book, I certainly did not expect the development of their relationship to become such a key aspect of the plot, or how much I would end up loving their sections together. I think that they are two characters who fit so well together, and so I really enjoyed watching their relationship grow, especially because of how different it is to Shazi and Khalid’s. Speaking of them, despite seeing less of their relationship in this second book, it was still something that I was always so excited to see. I feel like they really grew as a couple in this book, as their relationship strengthened more and more, and again I just could not get enough of them together.
Renee Ahdieh has a way with words that I just can’t get over. Somehow she is able to write in such a way that makes it so easy for me to just imagine the setting and everything that is happening in this story. She manages to create the perfect atmosphere for these books through her words and honestly I am already so excited to fall back into her writing in her next book.
Some things exist in our lives for but a brief moment. And we must let them go on to light another sky.
Similarly, the setting of these books was another aspect of this duology that I absolutely adored. I haven’t read a ton of fantasies that have a similar setting to this one, but these books have definitely persuaded me to try and pick up more as I just instantly fell in love with the world and setting against which this story is set. This is also one of the few aspects on which I actually preferred it in The Rose and the Dagger, as within it we got to explore so much more of the world than we ever got to see in The Wrath and the Dawn, and so I just adored how much more well developed the world became in the sequel.
Finally, the ending. Oh that ending. I don’t think I fully realised how emotionally attached to all of these characters and this world I was until I got to the last 50 pages, at which point something happened that just broke me. It was so shocking and something I did not expect to happen at all that it just sent me straight over the edge, at which point onwards every other thing that happened hit me ten times harder, until I was a complete blubbering mess. I just think it ended the series in a perfect way, as it wrapped everything up so well but still managed to land some last minute surprises that are sure to hit you hard.
All in all, I am so glad I picked up this duology. Although I didn’t love it as much as I adored Flame in the Mist, these are definitely two books that I thoroughly enjoyed and that I am so glad I read, even if it now means I have to wait for Smoke in the Sun to read another Renee Ahdieh book!
The Wrath and the Dawn:
The Rose and the Dagger:
Have you read these books – what did you think?