Book Review: The Archer at Dawn

Title: The Archer at Dawn (The Tiger at Midnight #2)

Author: Swati Teerdhala

Genres:  Fantasy

Pages: 410

Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books

Review Copy: ARC from publisher

Availability: Available May 26, 2020

Summary: The Sun Mela is many things: a call for peace, a cause for celebration, and, above all, a deadly competition. For Kunal and Esha, finally working together as rebel spies, it provides the perfect guise to infiltrate King Vardaan’s vicious court.

Kunal will return to his role as dedicated Senap soldier, at the Sun Mela to provide extra security for the palace during the peace summit for the divided nations of Jansa and Dharka. Meanwhile, Esha will use her new role as adviser to Prince Harun to keep a pulse on shifting political parties and seek out allies for their rebel cause. A radical plan is underfoot to rescue Jansa’s long-lost Princess Reha—the key to the stolen throne.

But amid the Mela games and glittering festivities, much more dangerous forces lie in wait. With the rebel Blades’ entry into Vardaan’s court, a match has been lit, and long-held secrets will force Kunal and Esha to reconsider their loyalties—to their country and to each other. Getting into the palace was the easy task; coming out together will be a battle for their lives.

Review: I greatly enjoyed Swati Teerdhala’s first novel “The Tiger at Midnight” and was bouncing on pins and needles waiting for the second installment to the series. I had high expectations for “The Archer at Dawn” and I can honestly say every single one of them were met.

The strength of both “Tiger at Midnight” and “The Archer at Dawn” are the main characters Esha and Kunal. Both have very strong voices and are characters that everyone can relate to. Both have their own agenda to changing their world, which sometimes comes in conflict between the two of them and sometimes is aligned. And that is the beauty of their relationship. Of course, this causes tension in their romance and makes them really fight for each other, for what they really want. The push and pull between Esha and Kunal that was established in the first book is taken to another level in this second book as the two work to establish their relationship and what they really mean to each other.

While “Tiger at Midnight” was more of a quest-like fantasy, “Archer at Dawn” is all the palace intrigue that allows us to learn more about the world. We get to know Esha’s fellow Crescent Blades more as well as her relationship with Prince Harun. We also meet King Vardaan and learn is not quite what his reputation is, which makes him a complicated villain. The court politics in play are so multi-faceted that there is no real way to predict who might even win. Then there comes a wonderful plot twist that was not telegraphed at all that made me just revel in how it caught all the main characters (and the reader) by surprise. It upped the tension ten-fold and led us into the third book which I wish I had already.

I’m loving the world that Teerdhala has created, from all the characters, to the palace intrigue, the mythology that shapes the character’s beliefs, the setting descriptions, everything. I get so immersed in Teerdhala’s world as her storytelling is a blend of action and deep character moments. I loved “Archer at Dawn” just as much as “Tiger at Midnight” and I can’t wait for the next book.