Review: The Bladebone

The Khorasan Archives concludes with this exquisite novel, The Bladebone. Ausma Zehanat Khan’s skill grows with each novel she writes, and The Bladebone is her best yet. It truly is the epic conclusion her fantasy series deserves.

Ashfall is under siege. The Citadel where the Companions of Hira guard sacred texts of the Claim, faces annihilation from The One-Eyed Preacher who corrupts the religion of Khorasan in his mad quest for power. Danger comes not only from the armies besieging Ashfall and the Citadel, but also from traitors within those walls. Who can be trusted to aid Khorasan? Who of the people we’ve come to care for, to root for, will survive? How does one find hope when all seems hopeless? Ausma Zehanat Khan had me on the edge of my seat as everything unfolded. Her beautiful writing brought me to tears, had me laughing and cheering, and gave me hope.

I’ve heard her say that wrote this series to honor her Pashtun Muslim heritage, to write a story for her community without being constrained by what would suit a white audience. I’ve seen reviews from others who share her background that discuss the elements unique to their perspective, where they are able to derive an even deeper meaning from this series. I am, in all honesty, jealous. It’s like reading a religious text and being able to appreciate the beauty of the language on the surface, but missing the deeper, spiritual connection. With The Bladebone, I see that connection to heritage and religion even clearer. I think Khan has done herself and her greater community proud.

For me, the thing I love most about this series, is that the true heroes of Khorasan are bad-ass, strong women. In a reality where the rights of women that were fought for and won by strong, determined women before me are being decimated by a corrupt president who thinks himself a demigod, and the cabal of rich, white men who are complicit in his crimes and the dismantling of American democracy, it gives me hope to read books where the world can only be saved by the efforts of strong, brave, committed women, both scholars and soldiers. This is not to say that men are missing from the story, or are nothing more than token, unimportant caricatures. No, they too are fighters, but instead of ruling over women, relegating them to a lesser place, they fight alongside the Companions of Hira. They assist our heroines in the fight against The One-Eyed Preacher and The Talisman. But make no mistake, without Arian, without Sinnia, without the sisterhood that is Hira, all would be lost.

In the midst of war and chaos, the Companions of Hira fight for knowledge, for Khorasan, and for each other. If nothing else, The Bladebone gives me hope, courage, and a burning desire to fight. For that, I will be eternally grateful to Ausma Zehanat Khan.

Note: I received an advanced copy of the novel from the author. All opinions are entirely my own.

~ by Rachel on September 26, 2020.

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