The Archer At Dawn – Swati Teerdhala – ARC Review

Title: The Archer At Dawn
Series: The Tiger At Midnight #2
Author: Swati Teerdhala
Genre: YA, Fantasy
: May 26th, 2020 (Katherine Tegen Books)

: A stolen throne. A lost princess. A rescue mission to take back what’s theirs.

For Kunal and Esha, finally working together as rebels, the upcoming Sun Mela provides the perfect guise for infiltrating King Vardaan’s vicious court. Kunal returns to his role as dedicated soldier, while Esha uses her new role as adviser to Prince Harun to seek allies for their rebel cause. A radical plan is underfoot to rescue Jansa’s long-lost Princess Reha—the key to the throne.

But amidst the Mela games and glittering festivities, much more dangerous forces lie in wait. With the rebel’s 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 countries and to each other.

Getting into the palace was the easy task; coming out together will be a battle for their lives. In book two of Swati Teerdhala’s epic fantasy trilogy, a kingdom will fall, a new ruler will rise, and all will burn.

Thank you to the publisher, HarperCollins, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Now allies in the quest to find the long-lost Princess Reha and rescue her from King Vardaan’s clutches, Kunal and Esha undertake the next steps in the rebels’ dangerous plan to take back the throne and restore the magical bond to the land. The Sun Mela, a grand yearly spectacle of games and celebrations provides the perfect opportunity – Kunal returns to his soldier’s life, now as a newly promoted Senap, infiltrating the citadel as a Mela champion, while Esha accompanies the Dharkan delegation as an advisor to Prince Harun. But more forces are at play in the Jansan capital of Gwali than any of them realize – Vardaan has some surprises planned on top of the excitement of the festivities, not to mention the Scales, led by the mysterious Dharmdev, who have their own plans to topple Vardaan. The Sun Mela is about to prove to be a test of loyalty for both our heroes.

As with the first book, I really enjoyed the setting and world building, particularly as we get to experience Gwali in the middle of the Sun Mela celebrations. While the action of the games was certainly entertaining, the core of this book is about the political intrigue in the Jansan court and trying to figure out as a reader, what exactly each person’s motivations are, what secrets they are keeping and ultimately what their end goals are. No one is acting particularly trustworthy, not even Kunal and Esha, though their intentions are no doubt noble in their own way.

The Esha we see in this book is completely different from the one we know. Now stuck playing the part of the noblewoman in court, the Viper has little opportunity to make an appearance, a pity since I really enjoy that portrayal of her in the previous book. The Archer at Dawn goes deeper into her backstory and we learn more about what happened to her during the coup.
As for Kunal, though he has thrown his lot in with the rebels, what that really means is only beginning to sink in, not to mention coming to terms with his royal heritage, understanding his powers and how to control them. While Kunal and Esha are no longer enemies, they by no means trust each other entirely, evident by the amount of secrets and lies between them still – something I didn’t really understand the purpose of.

The Archer at Dawn was harder to get into than the first book, and I didn’t have that much motivation for a while since it took way too long for the action to really get started. It felt like an ages since I read the first book, so a better recap of the events from the first book would have been helpful, as I had forgotten a lot of the finer points. However, I absolutely loved the character development in this book, especially on Esha’s part. And can I just say how glad I am that the love triangle between Esha, Kunal and Harun was kept relatively low key? The focus remained on the plot which was overall much stronger than in the previous book.

As for that ending, all I’ll say is I definitely did not see that coming! I had to go back and read it twice just to make sure I read it right and I have so many questions – this is the downside of reading ARCs, now I have to wait even longer for the finale! I can’t wait to see what happens next! Highly recommended!

The Archer At Dawn releases on May 26th, 2020.

Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:
Book 1: The Tiger At Midnight


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