The Bird and the Blade

432p. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062674159.
Gr 9 Up—As a slave in one of the kingdoms of the Mongol empire, Jinghua is in dire straits until the kingdom is conquered by a rival horde. She escapes with Prince Khalaf and his father and very little else. On the run for their lives and with a bounty on the prince's head, Jinghua uses their situation as a way to return to her home. However, she soon becomes attracted to the smart and kindly prince. Khalaf decides to wed the Great Khan's daughter as a way to restore his kingdom, but the princess has set a challenge of three riddles for any potential suitors, with a death sentence for those who do not succeed. Faced with the possible death of the prince, Jinghua must confront her past decisions and admit to loving him, even if it means she loses Prince Khalaf forever. The plot moves along steadily, with lots of twists, finally building to a climax that will leave readers in tears. The characters are complex and realistic. Based on the opera, Turandot, and the history of the Mongol Empire, this novel will appeal to fantasy and romance readers as well as historical fiction fans.
VERDICT A first purchase for libraries.

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