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The Bird and the Blade
Cover of The Bird and the Blade
The Bird and the Blade
Borrow Borrow

A sweeping and tragic debut novel perfect for fans of The Wrath and the Dawn and Megan Whalen Turner.

The Bird and the Blade is a lush, powerful story of life and death, battles and riddles, lies and secrets from author Megan Bannen.

Enslaved in 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 an impossible 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.

A sweeping and tragic debut novel perfect for fans of The Wrath and the Dawn and Megan Whalen Turner.

The Bird and the Blade is a lush, powerful story of life and death, battles and riddles, lies and secrets from author Megan Bannen.

Enslaved in 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 an impossible 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.

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About the Author-
  • Megan Bannen is a librarian and the author of The Bird and the Blade. In her spare time, she collects graduate degrees from Kansas colleges and universities. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, their two sons, and a few too many pets with literary names. She can be found online at www.meganbannen.com.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 4, 2018
    In this epic historical fantasy set against the backdrop of the 13th-century Mongol Empire, Jinghua, a Chinese slave girl, finds her fate irrevocably tied to that of a fallen khan and his son as they seek refuge and a way to restore their fortunes. With her home destroyed and family slaughtered, Jinghua chooses to follow Prince Khalaf, slowly falling in love with him during their long, arduous journey. However, Khalaf intends to marry the powerful Turandokht, daughter of the Great Khan and heir to the empire. First, he must solve her three riddles, and failure means certain execution. Jinghua must find a way to aid Khalaf, even if success means that their relationship is doomed. Drawing inspiration from multiple sources, particularly the opera Turandot, debut author Bannen weaves a magical and tragic romantic adventure. As she admits in the endnotes, the author takes liberties with historical accuracy in the name of storytelling; that, combined with a contemporary feel for language and dialogue, creates an anachronistic yet immersive reading experience. Memorable characters share a natural chemistry, and lush descriptions bring the world to life. Ages 13–up.

  • AudioFile Magazine Emily Woo Zeller narrates the story of Jinghua, a slave in the Mongol Empire, and Khalaf, the young prince with whom she finds friendship and falls in love. Set in the late thirteenth century, this young adult adaptation of Puccini's TURANDOT is full of heartbreaking realities of a war-torn region that reflect today's world conflicts. Despite beautifully spoken foreign words throughout the audiobook, Zeller's overall performance is uneven. Jinghua often sounds overly excited and anxious, her tone sounding like that of a contemporary teenage girl, while Khalaf sounds like the intelligent, kind thirteenth-century young man described in the text. Regardless, the ending will have the listener shedding tears of sorrow. A.L.S.M. � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2018

    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.-Terri Lent, Patrick Henry High School, Ashland, VA

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from April 15, 2018
    A Mongol slave must choose between escaping her captivity and saving the man she loves. When the Chinese Song dynasty is conquered by the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty in 1279, Jinghua is enslaved by the Khipchak khanate. In autumn of 1280, the khanate itself is overthrown by enemy forces, and the exiled Timur Khan and his youngest son, Prince Khalaf, must flee. Jinghua joins their fugitive party disguised as a boy. Traveling across the vast Mongol Empire, Khalaf finds comfort in Jinghua's companionship, and they bond over Hanyu (Mandarin Chinese) lessons and poetry as, against her better judgment, she falls in love with him. Alas, Khalaf devises a plan of last resort to save his kingdom--he will marry Turandokht (yes, as in Puccini's Turandot), the beautiful but heartless daughter of the Great Khan; however, potential suitors must solve three riddles or face execution. With Khalaf's life at stake, Jinghua must prove her mettle, even if it means sacrificing the one thing that she holds most dear. Though the tale is ancient and epic, this is a fast-paced page-turner. Thorough research helps build a believable 13th-century Mongolia, and the Romanized Mandarin Chinese is used precisely, right down to the tonal inflections. Lavish, sweeping, and powerful, this is a love story, tragicomedy, and history lesson rolled into one.A must-read for fans of heart-wrenching, sob-your-heart-out YA. (cast of characters, map, historical notes, author's note, glossary) (Historical fiction. 12-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    April 1, 2018
    Grades 9-12 Bannen's debut is a story of riddles, betrayal, politics, and love. Jinghua, a slave girl with no family, finds herself helping Kipchak Khanate's prince flee to safety with his father after their kingdom is invaded. Jinghua wants to use the royals she's assisting to her own advantage, hoping to return home to a better life than the one she left. Prince Khalaf is determined to take back his kingdom and crown, and to aid his efforts, he seeks a marriage with the daughter of the powerful Great Khan. However, the girl's hand in marriage can only be earned by solving three challenging riddles; the consequence of failure is death for Khalaf and Jinghua. Bannen whisks readers away to the thirteenth-century Mongolian Empire with a story rife with both romance and heartbreak. It is a rich, imaginative tale that delivers thrilling characters, heart-stopping action, and exciting intrigue with every turn of the page. Hand to fans of Ren�e Ahdieh's The Wrath and the Dawn (2015) and Roshani Chokshi's A Crown of Wishes (2017).(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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