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The Bird and the Blade

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  200 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
As a slave in the Kipchak Khanate, Jinghua has lost everything: her home, her family, her freedom … until she finds herself an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his irascible father as they flee from their enemies 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 ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Balzer + Bray
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Emily May
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Should you fail to answer correctly each riddle by the end of seven minutes, you shall forfeit your life. Do you understand?”

Mongolian fantasy with ghosts and riddles, anyone?

Well, this was pretty damn fascinating! I've been putting this book off because I've been so disappointed with almost every YA fantasy novel I read lately, but this was like nothing I've read before. It's a strange and stunning combination of the Mongol Empire, the Italian opera Turandot, and Persian fairy tales.

I shoul

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“Now, cold and exhausted, a girl disguised as a boy, tottering after the losing end of a battle, I have to second-guess that assessment. It seems to me that I’ve made some choices—some very bad choices—that have led me to this moment.”

The Bird and the Blade is a completely enthralling and heart-breaking YA fantasy debut. I enjoyed this so much, and I was completely teleported and captivated every time I opened this
Lola  Reviewer
3.5 stars.

This is a retelling of Turandot.

An opera, ladies and gentlemen.

That’s a first for me. I read retellings of fairytales often enough to consider it one of my favourite genres, but I admit I know nothing about operas.

But that’s okay. You can still understand the story perfectly. And I did. It really isn’t that complicated. The setting is original and the culture different, but it comes down to kings (‘‘kahns’’) fighting for power and a certain prince who wants to save his and his father
Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
Can't tell if the synopsis implies a love triangle or not...
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Okay let me explain about about the DNF status.

This book was by no means bad. The writing was totally riveting, the first person POV narrative from Jinghua was intriguing, and the research is really well-done. Like, I read 15% into the book and have to commend the author on her knowledge about the Song/Yuan dynasty, and her placement of the Chinese songs and phrases. (Yay!) I was SO into it when I stopped. The story jumps immediately into action with Jinghua witnessing her love, Prince Khalaf,
Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)
Loved this so much! Review to come closer to release date.



I honestly can't remember the last time a book tore my heart out and stomped on it as hard as this one did.

I can't remember the last time I cried, truly cried and didn't want to stop because of the emotions that I felt not only all through this story, but especially at the end.

Oh my poor heart and soul. I may never be the same again.

Filled with beautifully rich history and a strange friendship that b
May 19, 2018 marked it as abandoned
Recommends it for: Fans of The Wrath and the Dawn
Recommended to Tatiana by: kirkus
I've been very happy to see so many YA fantasies inspired by a multitude of different cultures and historical settings hit the shelves. I just wish more of them were written better.

Riddles and Mongol Empire and 12th century and Turandot - are all fascinating subject. But in the world of YA, as it often happens, they are underserved by average writing, superficial use of historical/cultural context and in the case of The Bird and the Blade - dull protagonist (a starry-eyed, smitten girl).

A Thou
Apr 19, 2018 marked it as to-read
so what's with YA fantasy novels always being titled [random word] and [random word]. we have the wrath and the dawn, the rose and the dagger, and now the bird and the blade. if i had to describe myself using this format i'd say i'm The Sad and the Lazy
joanna ☽
ouch, there goes my heart. full review to come soon
Dani - Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

Jinghua is a slave in the Kipchak Khanate… and the unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his father. Wanting to use the opportunity to return home this becomes increasingly hard as she falls hard for Khalaf. It’s made worse since he seeks to restore his kingdom by forging a marriage alliance with Turandokht, the daughter of the Great Khan. All suitors must solve 3 impossible riddles to win her hand—and if they fail, they die. W
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gah this book made me cry. I loved the setting and characters soooo much! I honestly am not knowledgeable about the history (during -13th century and having to do with Mongol Empire) but this book led me to google. Plus, I really enjoyed reading the author’s notes!

TBatB is really beautifully written, fast paced and tense! Some of the language used is a bit modern but I loved this aspect because it helped me relate to the characters as well as had me laughing at parts. The characters are funny,
Vicky Who Reads
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs, wishlist, favorites
btw if you want some uber hilarious bonus content from the author on this book, check out this post

5 stars

This book has ruined me.

The standards for YA fantasy just shot up to the moon after this book. Because this was extraordinarily heart-wrenching as well as engaging and absorbing and completely amazing.

I am wrecked. This book was glorious.

The first sign that this was just an amazing read was that I devoured the whole thing in one day. This is a 400+ page book and I just blew through the ARC s
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual Rating: 4.25 stars

Well, this book is going to haunt me for a while. It was a gut-wrenching read and left me tearing up at the end (and I never cry over books!). Megan Bannen crafts a beautiful, 13th century Mongolian inspired setting with gripping characters and an enthralling spin on the opera Turandot. After staying up late to finish this book (because of course nessun dorma when they read this book), one of the first things I did the next day was go back and reread the beginning. I ado
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
You know those books that grip you from the very beginning and just won't let go? Those books who have such captivating characters? Those books that you still think about even though you finished it a while ago? This is that kind of book.

As soon as I read the synopsis of this book, I knew it was going to be great, and I wasn't let down in the slightest. Even from the very beginning I was entranced and literally did nothing except read for an entire day. (no regrets)

Khalaf is such an intriguing
Kathy Martin
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THE BIRD AND THE BLADE was an excellent historical fiction novel set in the Mongol Empire around the year 1280. It's star is Jinghua who is a young woman with lots of secrets. She is a slave in the Kipchak Khanate. When the Khanate is overrun by the il-khanate she chooses to go on the run with the deposed Khan Timur and his only surviving son Khalaf who is both kind and brilliant.

As they flee ahead of both the il-khanate's forces and soldiers sent by Turandokht, the daughter of the Great Khan, K
Heather (The Sassy Book Geek)
Review Originally Posted On The Sassy Book Geek

**** Thank you to Balzer + Bray for providing me with an ARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review ****

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying “The Bird and the Blade”, it’s a more subtle YA Fantasy but packed a lot of punch nonetheless. And it is more YA Fantasy than Historical Fiction since there are some more fantastical elements and this isn’t supposed to be an accurate retelling of history, historical figures, or
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Well, I'm conflicted.

Review to come closer to the release date!
Susana Zemlyakova
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
5 stars for The Bird and the Blade

This book wrecked me. It is a bit hard to put in words how I feel having just finished it. I think I can say it is the same as watching your dog get run over while winning the lottery. Megan Bannen is a very talented storyteller. I was not familiar with the story of "Prince Khalaf and the Princess of China" but from the author's closing statement I understand that this is a retelling of that story from the view of the princess' slave. Even without having read
Christina (Ensconced in Lit)
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: publisher-sent
I just finished this book last night, and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it. A few things were clear though, Bannen is talented. The prose is beautiful. The characters are great. I definitely have a new book boyfriend in Khalaf, who is one of the sweetest most intelligent love interests I've seen in a long time. The main character, Jinghua is interesting and is even more so by the end. But the one who steals the show is Khalaf's cantankerous father, Timur. In a book with such serio ...more
Emily (Falling for YA)
After reading:
I cried ugly tears last night as I finished The Bird and the Blade. SO GOOD!

Before reading:
So excited to read Megan's book! We attended madcap retreats together so I'm extra excited to see this lovely book in print <3
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

My my, what a lovely book this was! I had just read a really fabulous book right before I started this one, so I was high key nervous since it has been actual ages since I have loved two books in a row. Well, my streak was broken, because guess what? Loved this one too! And now I shall tell you all the reasons why!

The setting/time period were so unique. Have you read about the Mongol
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
A really fun historical retelling of the 18th century French opera Turandot set in the 13th century Mongol Empire. Clever concept, fantastic execution. Detailed, descriptive, immersive.

Would definitely recommend for fans of And I Darken and other historical fantasies.
*Source* Edelweiss
*Genre* Young Adult / Historical
*Rating* 4.0


The Bird and The Blade is the debut novel from author Megan Bannon. The Bird and the Blade is a fascinating and utterly page-turning historical adventure set during the time when the Mongols ruled much of the known world. On a journey across kingdoms, hunted by Mongolian warlords, spies, and assassins who want them dead, Jinghua, Khalaf, and Timur Khan head toward a dangerous end and a chance for Prince Khalaf to try the rid
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness. Truly one of the best books, and perhaps the cure to my Six of Crows hangover... what lovable, funny characters. The plot that kept me hurting and rooting for my new fictional friends and crush. The writing... gorgeous and witty and captivating. The culture! The history! Yes! My heart is so fascinated, satisfied, and smitten!
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult, 5-stars
I shed a few tears, and I HOPE YOU DO TOO, because this was just really really well written and a great story.

Setting: Mongol Empire, 13th century
Jinghua is a slave, invisible and unseen to the Khan's family that she serves. That is, until Prince Khalaf returns home and gives her reason to believe he alone has the power and wisdom to one day rule. When the Prince and his father, Timur Khan, lose their army/home/family to enemy forces, Jinghua makes a last attempt to control her fate by following
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this, and I could not put it down. There were twists I didn’t see coming, gorgeous writing, characters I fell in love with—even the old goat 😉—and I was so fully invested in the end that I cried. I NEVER cry while reading.

This was such a fully satisfying story that elicited so many emotions: it was beautifully romantic, compelling, but also hilarious at times. I can’t recommend it enough—such a great read.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amazing-ya-books
I cant really find the words to say how much I loved this book! I have a new book boyfriend, his name is Khalaf, and I will fight you for him! Jinghua, oh my darling girl, you are so much more than you know! My heart cries for all you've been through! Beautifully written, romantic, and hilarious. Seriously, go order this book now!!
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2018
This was a mixed bag for me - some interesting elements alongside recognizable tropes, plus some strong scenes alongside characters that didn’t quite feel fully fleshed out to me.
Nikki King
**You can find this review and more on my blog Love at First Write

I was given a copy of this book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

I was *living* for this historical fiction stand-alone book. The Prologue into Part One confused me a bit because of the timeline, but I quickly wrapped my head around the story of the book and once I picked the book up after a good night’s rest I loved the flow Bannen picked. Like I said, the timeline is a little wonky at first, but it fits the st
Mary Nguyen (fox & wit)
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is book has a lot of strange TMI commentaries about pooping and whipping penises out. But it’s written in such away that I find hilariously charming.

I really adore the MC and appreciate her first person narration. I especially enjoy her invective nicknames for the Khatan. For all her low confidence and belief that she’s nothing more than a slave, she’s actually quite courageous, quick witted and when the situation deems it necessary, has quite the strong back bone. She definitely grows thro
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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. While most of her professional career has been spent in public libraries, she has also sold luggage, written grants, and taught English at home and abroad. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, their two sons, and a few too many ...more
More about Megan Bannen

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