Adult Books, Books by Muslim Authors, Muslim Shelf Space

The Black Khan by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Book Review

This is the sequel to The Bloodprint and I just loved it so much. You can read my review for The Bloodprint here

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

To fight against the cruel and superstitious patriarchy known as the Talisman, members of the resistance group known as the Companions of Hira have risked their lives in a failed attempt to procure the Bloodprint—a dangerous text that may hold the secret to overthrowing the terrifying regime. Now, with their plans in ashes, the Companions of Hira have scattered, and the lives of two brave women at the centre of the plot—Arian and Sinnia—face unprecedented danger.

Yet a spark of hope flickers in the darkness—the Bloodprint has survived. It is hidden in Ashfall, the seat of Rukh, the Black Khan, whose court is ruled by intrigue and conspiracy. Treacherous enemies ruthlessly manoeuvre for power behind the throne, including the autocratic Grand Vizier; the deadly and secretive Assassin; the Khan’s deposed half-brother; and the commander of Ashfall’s army, who is also Rukh’s oldest friend.

The Companions of Hira must somehow reunite, break through Talisman lines, and infiltrate Ashfall. A master of treachery himself, the Black Khan joins forces with these powerful women to manipulate them for his own ends. But as Ashfall comes under siege, he is forced to make a deadly calculation… one that could cause irrevocable damage to the Companions and their fight for freedom. 

This book picks up right where the Bloodprint ends and it is a dark book and so painful to read at times but I loved it so much. We see what happens to each of the characters after the ending of the Bloodprint and what they suffer through as they were betrayed by the Black Khan and left as prisoners. Arian and Sinnia have been separated and are unable to help each other. Daniyar is also a prisoner with Arian and is forced to fight to the death every night while Arian is forced to watch. Sinnia has been taken and is being tortured and honestly the first half of the book was incredibly difficult to read at times. But it shows how far people will go to show their dominance and control. Even twisting holy words which advocate for justice to suit their needs.

I did love seeing that Daniyar and Arian really care for each other and that they are willing to endure so much for each. We see that they truly love each other even though Arian will always choose the companions and her responsibilities she still does love Daniyar. It’s such a bittersweet relationship because they have such immense responsibilities that means they can’t be together truly but they are also drawn to each other no matter what happens to them.

Sinnia and Arian’s friendship and sisterhood is such a beautiful thing to see in books, I love seeing wonderful female friendships. There is no jealousy or resentment between them, they love each other and support each other through everything. I also loved seeing Sinnia with the two sisters who saved her when she was being tortured. I hope we get to see more of them in the next book.

The Black Khan has the Bloodprint and has taken it to Ashfall to help with the siege by the Talisman. He is a complex and confusing character, I’m still not sure how I feel about him. At times it seems that he is trying to do what is right and other times it seems as though he has ulterior motives and will sacrifice anyone and everything to gain what he desires. He pursues Arian even though she makes it clear that she is not interested and in love with Daniyar. He refuses to allow his sister to go and study and fulfil her dreams of joining the companions and studying. He is very misogynistic but also allows women in positions of power and is very contradictory. I think he does only what will keep him in power.

This story is as enthralling as The Bloodprint. I loved seeing the characters again and seeing how they interact after everything they have been through. I also liked seeing the new characters and particularly loved the Black Khan’s sister. The ending of this book is devastating and left me wrecked me. I am actually terrified of reading the next book. But also looking forward to seeing what will happen next.

Adult Books, Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Muslim Shelf Space

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Book Review

This book is absolutely incredible and has fast become one of my favourite reads!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A dark power called the Talisman has risen in the land, born of ignorance and persecution. Led by a man known only known as the One-eyed Preacher, it is a cruel and terrifying movement bent on world domination—a superstitious patriarchy that suppresses knowledge and subjugates women. And it is growing.

But there are those who fight the Talisman’s spread, including the Companions of Hira, a diverse group of influential women whose power derives from the Claim—the magic inherent in the words of a sacred scripture. Foremost among them is Arian and her apprentice, Sinnia, skilled warriors who are knowledgeable in the Claim. This daring pair have long stalked Talisman slave-chains, searching for clues and weapons to help them battle their enemy’s oppressive ways. Now, they may have discovered a miraculous symbol of hope that can destroy the One-eyed Preacher and his fervid followers: The Bloodprint, a dangerous text the Talisman has tried to erase from the world.

Finding a copy of The Bloodprint promises to be their most dangerous undertaking yet, an arduous journey that will lead them deep into Talisman territory. Though they will be helped by allies—a loyal ex-slave and Arian’s former confidante and sword master—both Arian and Sinnia know that this mission may well be their last. 

I had been putting this book off because I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy it but I wish I had read it earlier because I absolutely loved it! This is such a wonderful book that is steeped in history and Islamic beliefs has been woven seamlessly into the story. Ausma actually used verse from the Quran in the story which had me crying happy tears when I read it.

The world building in this book is incredible, it is complex and intricate and I know some people may find it a little confusing but don’t stop, keep reading, it’s totally worth it! The world is Persian inspired and you can see it in everything from the landscape to the clothing and more I loved reading it so much. I loved learning about the history of the world and how the oppressive regime, the talisman, have destroyed institutions of education and oppressed women and that the main character is part of a group of women who are trying to bring back peace and justice to their homes.

These women are called the Companions of Hira and the nod to Mount Hira had me squealing in delight! Where the Prophet (pbuh) was first given revelation and told to read. These women are called oralists and prize education and justice named themselves after a place where the first revelation was revealed. *chefs kisses*

I love all the characters and how we slowly learn about them over the course of the story yet they still remain a mystery to some extent which will have you dying for the next book. I really can’t wait to learn more about Sinnia and Daniyar especially. I completely fell in love with Daniyar and his mysterious ways and yet how he is with Arian and supports her decisions not trying to decide things for her and actually expresses his feelings. I want more soft boys in books please!

The main character, Arian, was so wonderful to read about, her faith in finding justice and searching for the Bloodprint, which is actually the Quran! The moment I realised she was talking about searching for the Quran I screamed because wow I absolutely love how respectfully and wonderfully Ausma wove Islam and Islamic beliefs into the story. Arian also uses the verse of the Bloodprint which are known to them as a form of power and it was so interesting to read.

One of the most fascinating things about the book is how the talisman are essentially the Taliban regime and how they prevented people from having access to the quran and centres of education and oppressed the women. The companions of hira represent the people who stood up against their oppression and fought for a better world. It’s especially interesting as both sides fighting for very different worlds are using the same text, the Bloodprint to justify their views. It shows how the same information can be used so differently and interpreted so differently.

The story had me completely hooked from the beginning and reading about the courage of women who are in so many different situations and how they try to make the best of their lives within what they can do but also try to fight for a better more just world. The ending where we finally start to see some of the pieces fall together had me reeling with the revelations and the sacrifices they all had to make. I am still not over one particular scene and after that ending I am so excited to dive into The Black Khan.

I highly recommend picking up this wonderful especially now as the last book will be out soon so you can binge all four books. You will not regret it. My heart is so full and happy after reading this wonderful book.