The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn)

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9780147513854: The Wrath & the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn)

A #1 New York Times Bestseller!

“A riveting Game of Thrones meets Arabian Nights love story.” - US Weekly


Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

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About the Author:

Renée Ahdieh is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds.

She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog. The Wrath and the Dawn is her debut.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

I once had a thousand desires,

But in my one desire to know you,

all else melted away.

Jalal al-Din Rumi

IT WOULD NOT BE A WELCOME DAWN.

Already the sky told this story, with its sad halo of silver beckoning from beyond the horizon.

A young man stood alongside his father on the rooftop terrace of the marble palace. They watched the pale light of the early morning sun push back the darkness with slow, careful deliberation.

“Where is he?” the young man asked.

His father did not look his way. “He has not left his chamber since he gave the order.”

The young man ran a hand through his wavy hair, exhaling all the while. “There will be riots in the city streets for this.”

“And you will put them to rout, in short order.” It was a terse response, still made to a somber stretch of light.

“In short order? Do you not think a mother and father, regardless of birth or rank, will fight to avenge their child?”

Finally, the father faced his son. His eyes were drawn and sunken, as though a weight tugged at them from within. “They will fight. They should fight. And you will ensure it amounts to nothing. You will do your duty to your king. Do you understand?”

The young man paused. “I understand.”

“General al-Khoury?”

His father turned toward the soldier standing behind them. “Yes?”

“It is done.”

His father nodded, and the soldier left.

Again, the two men stared up at the sky.

Waiting.

A drop of rain struck the arid surface beneath their feet, disappearing into the tan stone. Another plinked against the iron railing before it slid its way into nothingness.

Soon, rain was falling around them at a steady pace.

“There is your proof,” the general said, his voice laden with quiet anguish.

The young man did not respond right away.

“He cannot withstand this, Father.”

“He can. He is strong.”

“You have never understood Khalid. It is not about strength. It is about substance. What follows will destroy all that remains of his, leaving behind a husk—a shadow of what he once was.”

The general winced. “Do you think I wanted this for him? I would drown in my own blood to prevent this. But we have no choice.”

The young man shook his head and wiped the rain from beneath his chin.

“I refuse to believe that.”

“Jalal—”

“There must be another way.” With that, the young man turned from the railing and vanished down the staircase.

Throughout the city, long-dry wells began to fill. Cracked, sunbaked cisterns shimmered with pools of hope, and the people of Rey awoke to a new joy. They raced into the streets, angling their smiling faces to the sky.

Not knowing the price.

And, deep within the palace of marble and stone, a boy of eighteen sat alone before a table of polished ebony . . .

Listening to the rain.

The only light in the room reflected back in his amber eyes.

A light beset by the dark.

He braced his elbows on his knees and made a crown of his hands about his brow. Then he shuttered his gaze, and the words echoed around him, filling his ears with the promise of a life rooted in the past.

Of a life atoning for his sins.

One hundred lives for the one you took. One life to one dawn. Should you fail but a single morn, I shall take from you your dreams. I shall take from you your city.

And I shall take from you these lives, a thousandfold.

THEY WERE NOT GENTLE. AND WHY SHOULD THEY BE?

After all, they did not expect her to live past the next morning.

The hands that tugged ivory combs through Shahrzad’s waist-length hair and scrubbed sandalwood paste on her bronze arms did so with a brutal kind of detachment.

Shahrzad watched one young servant girl dust her bare shoulders with flakes of gold that caught the light from the setting sun.

A breeze gusted along the gossamer curtains lining the walls of the chamber. The sweet scent of citrus blossoms wafted through the carved wooden screens leading to the terrace, whispering of a freedom now beyond reach.

This was my choice. Remember Shiva.

“I don’t wear necklaces,” Shahrzad said when another girl began to fasten a jewel-encrusted behemoth around her throat.

“It is a gift from the caliph. You must wear it, my lady.”

Shahrzad stared down at the slight girl in amused disbelief. “And if I don’t? Will he kill me?”

“Please, my lady, I—”

Shahrzad sighed. “I suppose now is not the time to make this point.”

“Yes, my lady.”

“My name is Shahrzad.”

“I know, my lady.” The girl glanced away in discomfort before turning to assist with Shahrzad’s gilded mantle. As the two young women eased the weighty garment onto her glittering shoulders, Shahrzad studied the finished product in the mirror before her.

Her midnight tresses gleamed like polished obsidian, and her hazel eyes were edged in alternating strokes of black kohl and liquid gold. At the center of her brow hung a teardrop ruby the size of her thumb; its mate dangled from a thin chain around her bare waist, grazing the silk sash of her trowsers. The mantle itself was pale damask and threaded with silver and gold in an intricate pattern that grew ever chaotic as it flared by her feet.

I look like a gilded peacock.

“Do they all look this ridiculous?” Shahrzad asked.

Again, the two young women averted their gazes with unease.

I’m sure Shiva didn’t look this ridiculous . . .

Shahrzad’s expression hardened.

Shiva would have looked beautiful. Beautiful and strong.

Her fingernails dug into her palms; tiny crescents of steely resolve.

At the sound of a quiet knock at the door, three heads turned—their collective breaths bated.

In spite of her newfound mettle, Shahrzad’s heart began to pound.

“May I come in?” The soft voice of her father broke through the silence, pleading and laced in tacit apology.

Shahrzad exhaled slowly . . . carefully.

“Baba, what are you doing here?” Her words were patient, yet wary.

Jahandar al-Khayzuran shuffled into the chamber. His beard and temples were streaked with grey, and the myriad colors in his hazel eyes shimmered and shifted like the sea in the midst of a storm.

In his hand was a single budding rose, its center leached of color, and the tips of its petals tinged a beautiful, blushing mauve.

“Where is Irsa?” Shahrzad asked, alarm seeping into her tone.

Her father smiled sadly. “She is at home. I did not allow her to come with me, though she fought and raged until the last possible moment.”

At least in this he has not ignored my wishes.

“You should be with her. She needs you tonight. Please do this for me, Baba? Do as we discussed?” She reached out and took his free hand, squeezing tightly, beseeching him in her grip to follow the plans she had laid out in the days before.

“I—I can’t, my child.” Jahandar lowered his head, a sob rising in his chest, his thin shoulders trembling with grief. “Shahrzad—”

“Be strong. For Irsa. I promise you, everything will be fine.” Shahrzad raised her palm to his weathered face and brushed away the smattering of tears from his cheek.

“I cannot. The thought that this may be your last sunset—”

“It will not be the last. I will see tomorrow’s sunset. This I swear to you.”

Jahandar nodded, his misery nowhere close to mollified. He held out the rose in his hand. “The last from my garden; it has not yet bloomed fully, but I wanted to give you one remembrance of home.”

She smiled as she reached for it, the love between them far past mere gratitude, but he stopped her. When she realized the reason, she began to protest.

“No. At least in this, I might do something for you,” he muttered, almost to himself. He stared at the rose, his brow furrowed and his mouth drawn. One servant girl coughed in her fist while the other looked to the floor.

Shahrzad waited patiently. Knowingly.

The rose started to unfurl. Its petals twisted open, prodded to life by an invisible hand. As it expanded, a delicious perfume filled the space between them, sweet and perfect for an instant . . . but soon, it became overpowering. Cloying. The edges of the flower changed from a brilliant, deep pink to a shadowy rust in the blink of an eye.

And then the flower began to wither and die.

Dismayed, Jahandar watched its dried petals wilt to the white marble at their feet.

“I—I’m sorry, Shahrzad,” he cried.

“It doesn’t matter. I will never forget how beautiful it was for that moment, Baba.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close. By his ear, in a voice so low only he could hear, she said, “Go to Tariq, as you promised. Take Irsa and go.”

He nodded, his eyes shimmering once more. “I love you, my child.”

“And I love you. I will keep my promises. All of them.”

Overcome, Jahandar blinked down at his elder daughter in silence.

This time, the knock at the door demanded attention rather than requested it.

Shahrzad’s forehead whipped back in its direction, the bloodred ruby swinging in tandem. She squared her shoulders and lifted her pointed chin.

Jahandar stood to the side, covering his face with his hands, as his daughter marched forward.

“I’m sorry—so very sorry,” she whispered to him before striding across the threshold to follow the contingent of guards leading the processional. Jahandar slid to his knees and sobbed as Shahrzad turned the corner and disappeared.

With her father’s grief resounding through the halls, Shahrzad’s feet refused to carry her but a few steps down the cavernous corridors of the palace. She halted, her knees shaking beneath the thin silk of her voluminous sirwal trowsers.

“My lady?” one of the guards prompted in a bored tone.

“He can wait,” Shahrzad gasped.

The guards exchanged glances.

Her own tears threatening to blaze a telltale trail down her cheeks, Shahrzad pressed a hand to her chest. Unwittingly, her fingertips brushed the edge of the thick gold necklace clasped around her throat, festooned with gems of outlandish size and untold variety. It felt heavy . . . stifling. Like a bejeweled fetter. She allowed her fingers to wrap around the offending instrument, thinking for a moment to rip it from her body.

The rage was comforting. A friendly reminder.

Shiva.

Her dearest friend. Her closest confidante.

She curled her toes within their sandals of braided bullion and threw back her shoulders once more. Without a word, she resumed her march.

Again, the guards looked to one another for an instant.

When they reached the massive double doors leading into the throne room, Shahrzad realized her heart was racing at twice its normal speed. The doors swung open with a distended groan, and she focused on her target, ignoring all else around her.

At the very end of the immense space stood Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, the Caliph of Khorasan.

The King of Kings.

The monster from my nightmares.

With every step she took, Shahrzad felt the hate rise in her blood, along with the clarity of purpose. She stared at him, her eyes never wavering. His proud carriage stood out amongst the men in his retinue, and details began to emerge the closer she drew to his side.

He was tall and trim, with the build of a young man proficient in warfare. His dark hair was straight and styled in a manner suggesting a desire for order in all things.

As she strode onto the dais, she looked up at him, refusing to balk, even in the face of her king.

His thick eyebrows raised a fraction. They framed eyes so pale a shade of brown they appeared amber in certain flashes of light, like those of a tiger. His profile was an artist’s study in angles, and he remained motionless as he returned her watchful scrutiny.

A face that cut; a gaze that pierced.

He reached a hand out to her.

Just as she extended her palm to grasp it, she remembered to bow.

The wrath seethed below the surface, bringing a flush to her cheeks.

When she met his eyes again, he blinked once.

“Wife.” He nodded.

“My king.”

I will live to see tomorrow’s sunset. Make no mistake. I swear I will live to see as many sunsets as it takes.

And I will kill you.

With my own hands.

THE FALCON DRIFTED THROUGH THE BLEARING MID-afternoon sky, its wings held aloft on a passing sigh of wind and its eyes scanning the underbrush below.

At fleeting signs of movement, the raptor tucked its wings against its body and hurtled toward the dirt in a blur of blue-grey feathers and flashing talons.

The mass of fur, screeching and scurrying through the underbrush, had no chance of escape. Soon, the sound of clattering hooves drew near, a swirl of sand curling in its wake.

The two riders paused a respectful distance from the falcon and her kill.

With the sun at his back, the first rider, sitting astride a gleaming, dark bay al-Khamsa stallion, extended his left arm and whistled, low and soft.

The falcon twisted his way, her yellow-rimmed eyes narrowing. Then she took to the air once more and landed with her talons firmly embedded in the leather mankalah cuff bound from the rider’s wrist to his elbow.

“Curse you, Zoraya. I lost another bet,” the second rider groaned to the bird.

The falconer grinned at Rahim, his friend since childhood. “Stop complaining. It’s not her fault you’re incapable of learning a single lesson.”

“You’re lucky I’m such a fool. Who else would stomach your company for so long, Tariq?”

Tariq laughed under his breath. “In that case, perhaps I should stop lying to your mother about how smart you’ve become.”

“Of course. Have I ever lied to yours?”

“Ingrate. Get down and collect her kill.”

“I’m not your servant. You do it.”

“Fine. Hold this.” Tariq stretched out his forearm, with Zoraya still waiting patiently on her perch. When the falcon realized she was being passed along to Rahim, she ruffled her feathers and screeched in protest.

Rahim reared back with alarm. “That godforsaken bird hates me.”

“Because she’s a good judge of character.” Tariq smiled.

“With a temper for the ages,” Rahim grumbled. “Honestly, she’s worse than Shazi.”

“Another girl with excellent taste.”

Rahim rolled his eyes. “A bit self-serving in that assessment, don’t you think? Considering the one thing they have in common is you.”

“Reducing Shahrzad al-Khayzuran to such a notion might be the reason you’re always on the receiving end of her temper. I assure you, Zoraya and Shazi have a great deal more in common than me. Now, stop wasting time and get down from that blasted roan so we can go home.”

Under continued grumblings, Rahim dismounted from his grey Akhal-Teke—her mane shining like polished pewter in the desert sun.

Tariq’s eyes skimmed the stretch of sand and dry brushwood along the horizon. Blistering waves of heat rose from a sea of umber and adobe, rippling into patches of blue and white across the sky.

With Zoraya’s catch now stowed in the leather pouch affixed to his saddle, Rahim swung back onto his horse, employing the grace of a young nobleman trained in the art since boyhood.

“As to the earlier bet regarding the bird . . .” Rahim trailed off.

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2016. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A #1 New York Times Bestseller! A riveting Game of Thrones meets Arabian Nights love story. - US Weekly Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780147513854

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2016. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. A #1 New York Times Bestseller! A riveting Game of Thrones meets Arabian Nights love story. - US Weekly Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780147513854

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