I read 1001 Arabian Nights a long time ago, but I remember that the Caliph killed his first wife for infidelity, and decided to kill his wives so they would not have the chance to be unfaithful to him. Scherazade (a) was a volunteer and (b) thought she could save her life by telling a story, and stopping at a high point. The Caliph would put off killing her just to find out what happened next.
In “The Wrath and the Dawn,” eighteen year old Caliph Khalid’s first wife was not unfaithful – but his mother had been, and the previous Caliph killed her and raged about unfaithful women. So why is Caliph Khalid slaughtering a woman every dawn? The prologue tells of a curse threatening to destroy the entire caliphate, men women and children – but not who set it. The Caliph is not happy about the situation, but doesn’t know what else to do.
Shahrzad is a volunteer, who plans to use her storytelling gift to live through the night. Why does she volunteer? One of the women the Caliph killed was her favorite sister, and she wants revenge. She’s not quite sure how she’ll manage it, or that she’ll even live through the night… but she volunteers. Sharzahd tells only two stories before the Caliph falls in love with her beauty and strength of character. And – Sharzahd falls in love with him, too. Cue the angst as she remembers her dead sister, and tries not to fall in love after all.
Cue more angst when Sharzahd’s cousin and former boyfriend – current boyfriend, even though she’s now a married woman?’ – comes to the palace to meet the new Calipha. He wants to rescue her from the Monster Caliph, to help her avenge the dead sister, and maybe remind her what her true goal is. He is horrified to find her in love – maybe it’s a trick, maybe a spell, maybe she’s a traitor to the family?
Family fights, lovers’s fights, political fights, internal fights, there’s something here for everyone.