The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen
Release date: June 5, 2018
An e-galley was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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 did I stop reading: About 20% into my e-galley.
Why did I stop reading?: I wasn't connecting with the narrative. I was also having trouble keeping characters straight. The author also should have picked one timeline and stuck to it. It was annoying to have a flashback, then a jump forward, then go back and stay with the time of the flashback.
Update: Since writing this review, I've heard from an own-voices reviewer that, spoiler alert, the Chinese heroine dies by suicide for a love interest. That is nothing something I wish to promote, especially since the book is written by a white author. I cannot in good conscience recommend this book to anyone, so I won't be giving The Bird and the Blade another try, and I implore you not to either.