Book Review: The Sword and the Dagger by Robert Cochran (ARC)

The Sword and the Dagger

Author: Robert Cochran

Publication Date: 09 Apr 2019

Genre: YA Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Pages: 400

Publisher: Tor Teen

The Sword and the Dagger is an epic YA historical adventure by debut novelist Robert Cochran, the Emmy Award-winning executive producer and co-creator of the hit TV series 24.

When empires clash,
a Princess, a Knight, and an Assassin
embark on the quest of a lifetime

During the time of the Crusades, an unlikely trio―a Christian princess, her affianced prince, and a Muslim assassin―embarks on a quest to the court of the most fearsome warrior the world has ever known, Genghis Khan.

A rousing tale of adventure and romance about three young people who must grapple with fundamental issues of loyalty, friendship, faith, honor, and courage against the backdrop of conflicts that still resonate today.

“What kind of an ass sends a lock of his own hair as a gift?” – Princess Elaine

I was hooked as soon as I read the opening line of this story. Princess Elaine of Tripoli is the type of Princess who has defied the expectations of a young woman with her noble status. She is betrothed to Prince Conrad of Antioch, which is an arranged marriage that she despises. She’s constantly reminded by her advisors and lady in waiting, Margaret, that any independent thinking or reading is not only unbecoming of a Princess but unacceptable. To make matters worse, Prince Conrad (a Christian knight) is pompous and sexist; expecting Princess Elaine to become completely subservient to him as his wife. While Elaine wants no part of this marriage, this union would ally the kingdoms of Tripoli and Antioch (two Christian kingdoms) in order to stand a chance against the ferocious Genghis Khan.

The night before Elaine and Conrad are set to marry, a Muslim assassin by the name of Rashid makes a rather poor attempt at trying to slay Elaine. Rashid is captured and sent to the dungeons to await his sentence. However, Elaine is unwilling to merely accept that an attempt was made on her life without answers as to why. Elaine sneaks into the dungeons, frees Rashid, and demands to be taken to the Old Man, the infamous leader of the divine sect of assassins called the Nizaris. Conrad eventually catches up to both Elaine and Rashid where is met with an unexpected request for his betrothed: join Elaine and Rashid on their journey to the Old Man to get answers or return to Antioch. Conrad doesn’t trust a Muslim with his betrothed. Rashid doesn’t trust a Christian. But the three ultimately decide to band together on an adventure to understand why this marriage is unacceptable and that Elaine must die.

From start to finish, the quest that this trio embark on is full of action-packed adventure. Every time they succeed at what seems like an impossible task, they are faced with another that calls to question everything that they were brought up to believe. As the trio comes closer and closer to getting the information regarding who is trying to kill Elaine, they are forced to acknowledge that the enemies behind this plot may not be who they were expecting.

Prior to reading this book, I did not have a lot of insight into the history of Genghis Khan and his reign during the Crusades. I knew of the Crusades and the bloodshed during these holy wars, but that was about it. I was a little worried since I didn’t know the history, but honestly, the book never misses a beat. I honestly felt like I was immersed in the epic battles that took place in the 1200s.

One aspect of the book the I especially loved was seeing Conrad and Rashid band together to rescue Elaine. These two fought for the majority of the book and constantly used their faith as justification for one was right over the other. The sheer hatred between Christians and Muslims was palpable throughout the story. However, watching the barrier between Conrad and Rashid slowly (and I mean slowly) deteriorate was really inspiring.

Overall, I think this book is a great read that I highly recommend. I also think that there’s a lot of learned lessons that could be applied to some of the turmoil that we have in our current global affairs. If you love getting swept up in epic adventures that also discuss historical events, you don’t want to miss this one!

Thank you to Tor Teen for an advanced copy of this book. It did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Have you read The Sword and the Dagger? Is it on your TBR? Add it to your Goodreads.

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