I knew I had to read The Bird and the Blade once I a) read the synopsis and b) saw the blog tour invite in my inbox. It felt like a divine sign. I love when these are these little brushes from the universe that say – go ahead. Make sure to read until the end for the giveaway!
As a slave in the Kipchak Khanate, Jinghua has lost everything: her home, her family, her freedom … until she finds herself an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his irascible father as they flee from their enemies across the vast Mongol Empire. On the run, with adversaries on all sides and an endless journey ahead, Jinghua hatches a scheme to use the Kipchaks’ exile to return home, a plan that becomes increasingly fraught as her feelings for Khalaf evolve into a hopeless love.
Jinghua’s already dicey prospects take a downward turn when Khalaf seeks to restore his kingdom by forging a marriage alliance with Turandokht, the daughter of the Great Khan. As beautiful as she is cunning, Turandokht requires all potential suitors to solve three impossible riddles to win her hand—and if they fail, they die.
Jinghua has kept her own counsel well, but with Khalaf’s kingdom—and his very life—on the line, she must reconcile the hard truth of her past with her love for a boy who has no idea what she’s capable of … even if it means losing him to the girl who’d sooner take his life than his heart.
One of the things I really appreciated about The Bird and the Blade is that I was unfamiliar with the source material for the re-telling. I became hooked because Bannen tells the story through two time periods. We are hooked because half of the book seems to be in this past time period. We see the present, witness the consequences of their actions and wonder what happened to result in this situation. Bannen doesn’t hold back any punches and I really appreciated reading the Author’s Note and research at the end.
So you already know about how much I enjoyed the writing style, but let’s talk more about what I enjoyed. I adored the narrative voice of the protagonist and how Bannen chose to look at a different angle in this re-telling. Jinghua was funny but also so relatable. We were able to see how she made mistakes and said foolish things. Her words haunt her and we can see those ghosts. At the same time Jinghua is super angsty – and, to me, that makes for a good operatic tone.
At the same time, there were a few sentences that just struck out to me. The bigger story is slowly revealed to us and while I could see some of the twists coming – that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy watching them. It’s like when you yell to a character, ‘Don’t go around that corner!’ and they do. In some ways, we gain a sense of enjoyment from watching them do what we couldn’t, what we wouldn’t, or what we would? The Bird and the Blade kept me guessing all the time and there were a few times when the twists just shook the ground beneath me. Check out The Bird and the Blade on Goodreads.
Megan Bannen is a librarian and the author of THE BIRD AND THE BLADE. In her spare time, she collects graduate degrees from Kansas colleges and universities. While most of her professional career has been spent in public libraries, she has also sold luggage, written grants, and taught English at home and abroad. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, their two sons, and a few too many pets with literary names. She can be found online at www.meganbannen.com.
You could win:
- Prize: 1 copy of THE BIRD AND THE BLADE (US Only)
- Starts: 5/31
- Ends: 6/12