The Archer At Dawn – Swati Teerdhala – The Tiger At Midnight Trilogy #2 – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 26 May 2020
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.
The Archer at Dawn is the second book in the Tiger At Midnight trilogy. It’s packed full of intrigue, planning, action and court politics. There are secret kisses, secret alliances and big secrets revealed. It’s also slightly torturous as it seems the closer Esha, Kunal and the Blades move toward their goal the more obstacles there are in their paths and the further they are from achieving anything.
As I was drawing near the conclusion of the book I wasn’t sure I was going to be up for reading the third book. So much of this book’s plotting and scheming seemed about to come to nothing. But, at the last minute, one final reveal that comes out of nowhere had me hooked again and wanting to know what comes next. There’s a lot happening in in this book but I was a little disengaged as it seems like the characters aren’t going to achieve anything.
I like the characters. Esha and Kunal are exploring a new romantic relationship, while also testing the boundaries of their alliance and trust, introducing Kunal to the Blades and relying on him and his new found powers to help them complete the next part of the plan for reclaiming their country.
There is also a slight love triangle and Esha is torn between her new feelings for Kunal and the old, unrequited feelings for Harun. Esha is also torn between her desire for revenge on the people who killed her parents and the safety of the Blades’ mission. It means she makes some silly choices, but you can’t deny the depth of her hurt and yearning for recompense.
There is a warrior competition Kunal must enter that provides the action in the majority of the book, and Esha and Harun’s scheming provide the political tension. There are lots of near misses, secret alliances and sneaking around places they aren’t meant to be.
If you enjoy Indian inspired fantasy, you’ll love this series. The characters are strong and complex and the plot intriguing. You need to read book one in the series first before picking up this second book. It will be interesting to see how the story is brought to conclusion in book three.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Politics, romance, alliances, royalty, animals, magical powers, fighting, revenge, family.
Reading age guide: Ages 13 and up.
Advisory: Violence: Injury to animals and animal fighting. Injury, death, murder, assassinations. Sexual references and references to sexual relationships.
Published: 26 May 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 352 pages.