The Bird and The Blade by Megan Bannen

The Bird and the Blade
by Megan Bannen
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

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.

When I saw the The Bird and the Blade is based on an opera, I thought uh oh. I admit I love bittersweet endings (I'm still not over Uncontrollably Fond or Scarlet Heart Ryeo) but I knew I would have to be prepared. I'm not sure if I've ever heard of an opera not having causalities. I enjoyed The Bird and The Blade to be a rich story along with the tears.

I loved the fact that the characters are Mongolian. After I saw Mulan, I actually did a lot of research on the Mongolian Empire because I found it really interesting. It's a section of history you know about but don't necessarily get a lot of information about. I loved how this story tied some of that in. I did find some of the politics confusing at first and I did appreciate the glossary of who was who. I had to refer to it a little.

I loved the characters. All interesting in their own way and unique in the way they are shaped by their experiences. It's a different kind of romance as well. One that can endear tragedy. It's a beautiful story and I think it held on to that opera quality while making into novel form.

Megan Bannen is a librarian and the author of THE BIRD AND THE BLADE. In her spare time, she collects graduate degrees from Kansas col-leges 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

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