The Archer at Dawn by Swati Teerdhala

The Archer at Dawn (The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy #2)
Author: Swati Teerdhala
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: May 26th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, India, Cultural, Mythology

The Sun Mela is many things: a call for peace, a cause for celebration, and, above all, a deadly competition. For Kunal and Esha, finally working together as rebel spies, it provides the perfect guise to infiltrate King Vardaan’s vicious court.

Kunal will return to his role as dedicated Senap soldier, at the Sun Mela to provide extra security for the palace during the peace summit for the divided nations of Jansa and Dharka. Meanwhile, Esha will use her new role as adviser to Prince Harun to keep a pulse on shifting political parties and seek out allies for their rebel cause. A radical plan is underfoot to rescue Jansa’s long-lost Princess Reha—the key to the stolen throne.

But amid the Mela games and glittering festivities, much more dangerous forces lie in wait. With the rebel Blades’ entry into Vardaan’s court, a match has been lit, and long-held secrets will force Kunal and Esha to reconsider their loyalties—to their country and to each other. Getting into the palace was the easy task; coming out together will be a battle for their lives.

I loved The Archer at Dawn. What a great second book in a series, which is hard to do. It felt like a first book because of the way the plot is structured and it’s so fast paced. I couldn’t stop reading.

I love plots like the one in The Tiger at Midnight series. Where there are multiple answers to a problem and the main character’s answer isn’t necessarily the right one. There are so many roads these characters can take and it’s not about being good or evil. Where we focused on the struggle of the General’s Murder and tracking the Viper in the first book, we now get a little bit more into the politics in the race to find the lost Princess Reha. I had felt the Blades were focused more on saving the land in the first book but in The Archer at Dawn I felt like they were more focused on instating a new ruler on the throne. Which I think was making Kunal wonder what the right thing is. I also loved that the politics and the Sun Mela were both interesting and not overwhelming. Depending on my mindset in a book, I don’t always want to read a ton of fighting and I think The Archer at Dawn definitely has that balance. The plot is so fast paced that you do not want to put the book down because you want to know what everyone’s real intentions are. There are so many moving parts and like I said, so many choices and roads for the characters to take! I loved it.

I love Kunal. He is by far my favorite character in this series. We’ve seen him grow so much from his time at the Blood Fort in The Tiger at Midnight to who he becomes in The Archer at Dawn. He sees things in this very flat and not emotionally guided way. Even when he is doing something to protect Esha, he still has his wits about him. I think before he was moving through the motions and trying to find where he fits in. In this story I think he is really coming out of a fog and deciding what he wants to protect the most. What the blood in his veins really means to him. He said something too that really endeared me to him. When he was talking about revenge is a vicious cycle and he showed how as a soldier he also took people's children and parents. Every time they fight. I just love him and can’t wait to see his character’s develop in the next book.

Esha is more ruled by passion. I like her and I really loved the relationship between her and Kunal in The Tiger at Midnight but she starts to lose me a little bit in The Archer at Dawn. She is passionate about revenge, she is passionate about finding Reha and she is passionate about unsupering Vardaan. I think Esha seems like she knows who she is more than Kunal but it’s almost like they go in opposite directions and she starts to lose herself. I also don’t like how she treats Kunal as far as information goes but she does care about him. I like that even though she might be slightly confused about other relationships, she is open about it.

Another thing that I really love is how the side characters have more depth to them as well. We found that General Hotha was indeed a terrible man. He destroyed and took many lives. We also found that he truly loved Kunal and protected him. Placing him in positions where nobody would suspect his lineage. I think there is also a lot more to Vardaan as well. We only get glimpses of his maybe not so evil side but I’m hoping there will be more to his story as to why he did some things. I don’t want to get into every character but I just really like how they have reasons for what they do. They are not just there to be there.

I’m so excited for the next book. I can’t handle not knowing what is going to happen.

Swati Teerdhala is the author of The Tiger at Midnight series, which has appeared on both Barnes and Noble and Book Riot’s Most Anticipated Novels lists.

After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BS in finance and BA in history, she tumbled into the marketing side of the technology industry. She’s passionate about many things, including how the right ratio of curd-to-crust in a lemon tart. She currently lives in New York City.

Swati is represented by Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency.

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Dark Skies by Danielle L. Jensen

Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2)
by Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: May 5th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Lydia is a scholar, but books are her downfall when she meddles in the plots of the most powerful man in the Celendor Empire. Her life in danger, she flees west to the far side of the Endless Seas and finds herself entangled in a foreign war where her burgeoning powers are sought by both sides.

Killian is Marked by the God of War, but his gifts fail him when the realm under the dominion of the Corrupter invades Mudamora. Disgraced, he swears his sword to the kingdom’s only hope: the crown princess. But the choice sees him caught up in a web of political intrigue that will put his oath – and his heart – to the test.

With Mudamora falling beneath the armies of the Corrupter, Lydia and Killian strike a bargain to save those they love most—but it is a bargain with unintended and disastrous consequences. Truths are revealed, birthrights claimed, and loyalties questioned—all while a menace deadlier and more far-reaching than they realize sweeps across the world.

Dark Skies is the second book in the Dark Shores series. It actually runs parallel to the first book but with different perspectives. We have Lydia and Killian as our main leads but I loved how it weaves in out of the first book.

I read the two books back to back and so the string of the plot just kept going for me. I loved it. I loved how well the two tie together. I don’t always like books that happen in the same world. Usually because I’m loyal to whatever characters I read first but Dark Skies complements Dark Shores perfectly. We spent a lot of time in Dark Shores in Cel, it’s legions and the clans of the West. Where in Dark Skies we spend most of our time in the West and in Mudamora.

There is a lot of politics and war but it’s not over done. It’s all interesting and I love how the tie in to the first book makes you want to know more. You had glimpses of things and now you are fleshing out the story you already know. It’s very well executed and keeps you reading. This doesn’t feel like a second book at all. In a way it’s a first book all over again.

Killian is by far my favorite character in this installment. I think he is such an easy character to feel camaraderie with. He’s got a lot on his plate but he is kind and thoughtful. Also he is god marked for war so he is a strategist and the wheels are always turning in his head.

Lydia is a spoiler in herself so if you haven’t read the first book….although I know if you read the first book you already suspected. Instead of starting with Teriana we start with Lydia at the same place we started the last book. It was interesting to see her perspective on things that we’ve already read. I do like Lydia. She has this different kind of fierceness from Teriana. I think it’s why they compliment each other as friends. I don’t think her basic character really changes from beginning to the end of the book but I do think she finds her place in the world. Feeling like an outcast her whole life.

Even though Malahi is not a perspective in this story. I really enjoyed her character, even the ups and downs with it.

I loved the Dark Skies and I love the Dark Shores series so far. I’m excited for the next book to see what the perspectives will be and how things will start flowing in the same vein.

Danielle L. Jensen is the USA Today bestselling author of The Malediction Trilogy (Angry Robot), the Dark Shores series (Tor Teen), and The Bridge Kingdom series (Audible Originals). She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her family.

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