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The Bird and the Blade

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  559 Ratings  ·  195 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, 432 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
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
Sylvia Mercedes
I knew I was going to love this book. I just knew it. I mean, unless the actual writing turned out to be subpar, there was simply no way this book wasn't going to be a favorite.

But . . . even though I knew I was going to love this book . . . I HAD NO IDEA JUST HOW MUCH I WOULD LOVE THIS BOOK.

Here's the thing--I was an honest-to-goodness outcast in high school. Not because I was rebellious or reclusive or anything. Mostly it was because I just didn't like the right things. Even the other outcas
Jan 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
EDIT: Originally, I did not rate this book anything. But after seeing the amalgam of 5 stars, I thought I'd put my #ownvoices review in here (as well as the fact that now I have to explain why I gave it this status in the first place). I'm happy you liked the book, if you did, but I don't need to be told how to read.

My full review of this can be found on Happy Indulgence, over here. This is a review not from an objective point of view, but from an #ownvoices reader who is Chinese and read about
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
Cindy ✩☽ Savage Queen ♔
Can't tell if the synopsis implies a love triangle or not...
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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
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,
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
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
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
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
Well that was fucking devastating.

I'm not sure how famous the opera Turandot is, but I personally had never heard of it and knew absolutely nothing about the plot of the original tale. The Bird and the Blade is a retelling that focuses on one of the secondary characters in the play, and gives her the story that the original never shows.

Jinghua is a slave girl who is shown kindness by the prince of the Kipchak Khanate, and decides to follow him and his father when they become political targets. I
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
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I am stunned. This was a masterpiece, beautifully written with lots of emotion and wonderfully constructed. The title and the cover...looking at it now, I have CHILLS. This brought out all kinds of emotion in me. I loved the world building and the character arcs. I really felt like I was in the Mongolia Empire. But at the same time, the author modernized it a bit with speech patterns and letting us into this brave young girl's head. Made it such a quick read. This had a very big "Mulan" fee ...more
Bright Star
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
"And wilderness is paradise now."

When I decided to read The Bird and the Blade I didn't know what to expect. Now that I've finished it, I'm literally broken. It is true the book is inspired by Puccini's opera Turandokht and follows pretty much the opera's story, but she's not the main character. The main one is the princess-slave Jingua and I adored this choice, to give her depth and relevance. I also loved Khalaf, who emerged not for his look but for his kindness and intelligence, and how he re
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
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Well, I'm conflicted.

Review to come closer to the release date!
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!
Minni Mouse
If someone could explain the ending for me, that'd be great.

1) Creativity with the storytelling.

2) The ending. Even though I didn't understand it.

1) Really wish the author had just just eschewed the historical part and made this a full-on fantasy setting. That way, the modern language wouldn't have seemed so terribly out of place.

2) As far as YA books go, the concept is unique and better conceived than most but the character execution deflates the story right back to generic.

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
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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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“Cruelty is easy to repay, my lord. Kindness is another matter.” 2 likes
“And wilderness is paradise now.” 2 likes
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