The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Summary from GoodReads
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.
THE BIRD AND THE BLADE is a lush, powerful story of life and death, battles and riddles, lies and secrets from debut author Megan Bannen.
I received an e-ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
There are many things to love in History. You get to see battles, inventions, even sometimes the stupidity in the human race; but you also get to have the chance of re-writing History into a freaking amazing book.
"The Bird and the Blade" takes place in the 13th century. The West lives into the Dark Ages, the Byzantine Empire is just a smidge of its former glory and the Mongols struggle for power and succession through the whole Asia. It's a time when the descendants of Jenkins Han fight over who will rule and the power of the Mongols has even destroyed the Song Dynasty on China.
This is the story of Jinghua, a slave who has lost everything and through a series of events ends on serving the Kipchak Khanate, Timur, the leader and Khalaf, the third son. When the princess of the Eternal Ruler issues a series of riddles for those who want to marry her, then Khalaf and Jinghua will live an adventure through the plains of Asia and back.
The story goes back and forth through time and it's told from Jinghua's POV. There are many things to love in this debut. Megan's voice in describing the environment, the knowledge of the language, even the descriptions of the battles are amazing!
Khalaf was also a very interesting character and with everything that happens from the beginning of the book, towards its ending, you truly don't expect the events to unfold the way they did! And since there aren't many YA, that touch this time period and also taking place through Asia, this book is one of its kind!
Gorgeously written and equally tragic, "The Bird and the Blade" will make you want more of Megan's writing!
About the author:
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.