Title: The Mirror and the Maze
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Novella
What’s it About: Khalid and his men ride back to the city and see it in flames, and Khalid cannot stop himself from descending into fury, thinking that his uncle, Salim Ali el-Sharif, the Sultan of Parthia attacked Rey. His men of course panic because everyone has family in the city of Rey.
The curse that was placed on him by Ava’s father comes to mind, and pushes his horse towards the city. Unfortunately the roads are filled with people escaping the city, so the contingent of men find a different way around to get into the city.
Khalid makes his way to the palace and finds Despina tending to a servant girl. Then, he finds Jalal, who tells him that a storm had passed. Khalid asks about Shahrzad, to which Jalal tells him she’s safe, and then he thinks about the curse. Khalid believes that it is his fault that the city has perished. Then he asks Jalal where Shahrzad is, and at first Jalal tries to get him to reason, afraid that Khalid would be upset. He then tells Khalid that he sent her out of the city with Tariq.
Khalid has a hard time containing his emotions because he learned that Tariq is the person responsible for the budding unrest and organizing a force against Khalid in the land between Parthia and Khorasan. Jalal tells him that she will be safe because Tariq loves her, and when Khalid tries to argue, Jalal points out that he needs to look at the destruction of the city as a king, not with the heart of a boy.
Khalid realizes that Jalal is right–his responsibilities were with the city and that Shahrzad was safer away from him, even if it was with Tariq.
My Verdict: This little short story made me feel sad for Khalid–he seems to be losing everything that he loves. First he lost his mother, now he’s lost his city and Shahrzad in one breath. I am so glad to see Khalid’s thoughts, but different parts of me are torn–one part of me wants him to go chase her and have them stop the curse together. Another parts of me wonders what would happen if he stayed. Would Shahrzad fight for him? Would she come back?
I guess we will see in the second book of the series. Can’t wait!