A sweeping and tragic debut novel perfect for fans of The Wrath and the Dawn and Megan Whalen Turner.
The Bird and the Blade is a lush, powerful story of life and death, battles and riddles, lies and secrets from author Megan Bannen.
Enslaved in Kipchak Khanate, Jinghua has lost everything: her home, her family, her freedom . . . until the kingdom is conquered by enemy forces and she finds herself an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his irascible father 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 an impossible 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.
In this epic historical fantasy set against the backdrop of the 13th-century Mongol Empire, Jinghua, a Chinese slave girl, finds her fate irrevocably tied to that of a fallen khan and his son as they seek refuge and a way to restore their fortunes. With her home destroyed and family slaughtered, Jinghua chooses to follow Prince Khalaf, slowly falling in love with him during their long, arduous journey. However, Khalaf intends to marry the powerful Turandokht, daughter of the Great Khan and heir to the empire. First, he must solve her three riddles, and failure means certain execution. Jinghua must find a way to aid Khalaf, even if success means that their relationship is doomed. Drawing inspiration from multiple sources, particularly the opera Turandot, debut author Bannen weaves a magical and tragic romantic adventure. As she admits in the endnotes, the author takes liberties with historical accuracy in the name of storytelling; that, combined with a contemporary feel for language and dialogue, creates an anachronistic yet immersive reading experience. Memorable characters share a natural chemistry, and lush descriptions bring the world to life. Ages 13 up.
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I love this story it’s just amazing. But I’m sad how it ended and that they never found out her big secret. She died with them all thinking her just a slave- a brave one- but still just a slave to them.