I’ve had my eye on The Bird and the Blade for a couple months. The description had me intrigued right from the get-go so I jumped at the opportunity to get my hands on an ARC. I’m so excited that I was chosen to be part of this blog tour because this book is easily my favorite read of the year.
So what’s the big deal you ask?? Well….
The Bird and the Blade
by Megan Bannen
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 5, 2018
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.
As Khalef bows his head in concentration, my mind spirals, thinking of all the things I could have done to stop this from happening, of all the little missteps along the way that led to this. But it was a long road that brought us here, and, to be honest, I’m not sure where the road began or at what point I put my food on the path and took my first step toward disaster.
Megan Bannen, what have you done to me? Because wow, this book was so amazing! Set in the Mongol Empire from 1278-1281, The Bird and the Blade is part history and part fantasy. Bannen brings this time period alive with her incredible and detailed research and magical story-telling. And did I mention that it is a stand alone?! Thank you!!
Action, humor, philosophy, forbidden love, ghosts and poetry – this book has it all!
I look around me at the moon-glazed trees, the way the ethereal light reflects off the dusting of snow on the peaks beyond. This is a world of ghosts and night. I don’t want to be alone in it. What good would it do me to have my choices taken from me here, now? I will my feet to move forward.
I love the way this novel was structured. Told primarily from the City of Khanbalik as Prince Khalaf is tested with three impossible riddles, The Bird and the Blade jumps back in time and shows how Khalaf, his father Timur, and the slave girl Jinghua were thrown together and journeyed together across the Empire. To me this book was a slow build, learning about the characters and the history & politics of the period as we journeyed slowly across deserts and frozen mountains and dodged political assassins. The pace built with the novel until the last 100 pages where I was just sitting on the edge of my seat the entire time & no would could pry the book from hands until I was finished.
Now, I read a few reviews for this novel before I started it myself so I knew the ending had made others cry buckets of tears. Knowing this a head of time, I thought that I was prepared, but I wasn’t. Not even close. I suppose I could blame the baby hormones, but when I read the last few pages of this novel, I was in anguish and after I finished I walked around melancholy for the next few hours. And through everything, all I could think about was how terrible and wonderful and awful and incredible it all was.
Khalef’s dignity and poise have melted into anguish. He looks to me and then to Timur and then back to me again, and nowhere can he find an answer that will suit. Shit all over the girl you believe to have saved your life or disrespect your father: it’s a moral dilemma par excellence for a philosophical prince.
I loved all the characters in The Bird and the Blade, even the ones I thought were despicable (I’m looking at you, Turandokht). Each of them were complex and clearly had their own individual motivations. I loved Jinghua and Khanat & how their relationship built on a love of knowledge and not just based on looks. And perhaps most surprising to me, I adored Timur. I say this is surprising because he was nothing short of an ass in the beginning, but I grew to treasure the “old goat” by the end.
And if none of this has convinced you to go read this book immediately, I’ll leave you with one of the best come backs I’ve read:
Go suck your used tea leaves!
As a side note, I’ve been following this blog tour and if you’re going to make one more stop, please head over to Vicky Who Reads!! As she put so eloquently: “If you had to only read one guest post in your life, this is the one I’d recommend.” (And I’m saying that EVEN THOUGH it’s not on my blog) 🙂 Turns out, Megan Bannen is pretty funny as well as an incredibly talented writer. Plus props to Vicky because I loved her The Bird and the Blade mood board.
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.
And finally, here is your chance to WIN a copy of The Bird and the Blade.
This contest is open to the US only and will run through 6/12.
Follow the rest of the tour with us 🙂