cover image The Bird and the Blade

The Bird and the Blade

Megan Bannen. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-267415-9

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. (June)