THE BIRD AND THE BLADE, by Megan Bannen, Balzer & Bray/HarperCollinsPublishers


As a slave in the 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 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.

Out June 5, 2018


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Although this depicts the Mongol Empire, it is loosely based on facts and the author admits to taking many imagined liberties with those facts. There are many fantastical elements added based on Persian fairy tales too.

With that all said, this book has a beautiful cover, is a standalone and is a young adult fantasy. Although a thick read, it is paced well, moving along quickly with the aid of twists and turns and character influences.

I love the concept of three riddles to solve and how the author lays this out for the reader, it kept me intrigued and wanting more.  There is a strong element of romance but it is written so beautifully that the romance only enhances the story. There’s similarities to an Italian opera, “Turandot” that the author follows closely in her story.

A slave girl loving a prince, quite a standard story-line but in this case it’s remarkable because of how the author has written it.  There is an element of class and social acceptance of beauty over lack of beauty, making those gifted with beauty worth something and those lacking, worthless.

There is an accurate depiction of women in the 13th century that sadly in some countries of today hasn’t changed much.

Overall, the characters were clean and fresh, well-fleshed out and intriguing.   This is a beautiful story worthy of a read.

I gave it:


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