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The Lady or the Lion (The Marghazar Trials, #1)

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Retells “The Lady or the Tiger?” against a Pakistan-inspired world of forbidden love and court intrigues. Once there was a princess forced to choose a fate for her lover - to a future in the arms of a beautiful lady, or to death in the mouth of a lion? But what came first was the fate she would choose for herself. As crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul will do an Retells “The Lady or the Tiger?” against a Pakistan-inspired world of forbidden love and court intrigues. Once there was a princess forced to choose a fate for her lover - to a future in the arms of a beautiful lady, or to death in the mouth of a lion? But what came first was the fate she would choose for herself. As crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul will do anything to protect her people and her land. When her grandfather, the Badshah, is blamed for a deadly assault on the summit of neighboring leaders, the tribes call for his head. To assuage cries for war, the Badshah opens Marghazar's gates to foreigners for the first time in centuries, in a sign of good faith. Enter Ambassador Asfandyar Afridi, a wry foreigner who admits outright that he is a spy. Stubborn, proud, and suspicious of foreigners, Durkhanai does not appreciate that he won't bow to her every whim and instead talks circles around her. And yet, she has to make him her ally to expose those truly responsible for the attack as more ambassadors from neighboring tribal districts arrive at court, each one of them with their own agenda and reasons to hide the truth.When a mysterious illness spreads through the village and the imperialists push hard on her borders, Durkhanai must sort through the ever shifting loyalties at court and her growing feelings for Asfandyar. Will she be able to leave the antics of a spoiled princess behind and become what her people need - a queen?


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Retells “The Lady or the Tiger?” against a Pakistan-inspired world of forbidden love and court intrigues. Once there was a princess forced to choose a fate for her lover - to a future in the arms of a beautiful lady, or to death in the mouth of a lion? But what came first was the fate she would choose for herself. As crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul will do an Retells “The Lady or the Tiger?” against a Pakistan-inspired world of forbidden love and court intrigues. Once there was a princess forced to choose a fate for her lover - to a future in the arms of a beautiful lady, or to death in the mouth of a lion? But what came first was the fate she would choose for herself. As crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul will do anything to protect her people and her land. When her grandfather, the Badshah, is blamed for a deadly assault on the summit of neighboring leaders, the tribes call for his head. To assuage cries for war, the Badshah opens Marghazar's gates to foreigners for the first time in centuries, in a sign of good faith. Enter Ambassador Asfandyar Afridi, a wry foreigner who admits outright that he is a spy. Stubborn, proud, and suspicious of foreigners, Durkhanai does not appreciate that he won't bow to her every whim and instead talks circles around her. And yet, she has to make him her ally to expose those truly responsible for the attack as more ambassadors from neighboring tribal districts arrive at court, each one of them with their own agenda and reasons to hide the truth.When a mysterious illness spreads through the village and the imperialists push hard on her borders, Durkhanai must sort through the ever shifting loyalties at court and her growing feelings for Asfandyar. Will she be able to leave the antics of a spoiled princess behind and become what her people need - a queen?

30 review for The Lady or the Lion (The Marghazar Trials, #1)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Aamna Qureshi

    I hope it isn't in poor taste to give my own novel 5 stars but if I'm not going to be my biggest cheerleader, who will?? Also, I wrote a blog post describing what inspired this novel and my journey writing it! You can read it here: https://www.aamnaqureshi.com/blog-3/w... I hope it isn't in poor taste to give my own novel 5 stars but if I'm not going to be my biggest cheerleader, who will?? Also, I wrote a blog post describing what inspired this novel and my journey writing it! You can read it here: https://www.aamnaqureshi.com/blog-3/w...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chloe Gong

    An intricate deep dive into a forbidden love story and all the stages in-between. Aamna Qureshi writes of a world steeped in rich culture and tumultuous politics with an expert hand. The Lady or The Lion is a gorgeous read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Siraj

    I just finished reading The Lady or the Lion by Aamna Qureshi, a Pakistani-inspired Young Adult fantasy novel, and I am absolutely in love with this book for so many reasons. The first and most significant reason is that Pakistani-culture is instilled into this story like I have never experienced before. As a Pakistani teen myself, this book meant the world to me. Just the fact that one of the characters shared a name with my dad, or the fact that the characters were constantly drinking chai and I just finished reading The Lady or the Lion by Aamna Qureshi, a Pakistani-inspired Young Adult fantasy novel, and I am absolutely in love with this book for so many reasons. The first and most significant reason is that Pakistani-culture is instilled into this story like I have never experienced before. As a Pakistani teen myself, this book meant the world to me. Just the fact that one of the characters shared a name with my dad, or the fact that the characters were constantly drinking chai and eating samosas, or the fact that the main character played kadam board with her cousins. I can go on and on about all of the bits of Pakistani culture in the book, but that would be an essay. I will say that as someone who has never been to Pakistan and who has many times felt so very disconnected from half of his culture, this book hit home. It made me feel a belonging to my culture that I’ve so deeply needed because many times I haven’t felt super Pakistani, living in America my whole life, and when I recognized and identified with so much of this book, I felt so very validated as a Pakistani. I was transported to magical mountains that I’ve yearned for so long to visit. While that can only be really quenched by actually going to Pakistan, this book will help me feel like I’m there until I can actually go. This is probably not first story focusing on a Pakistani princess but it’s the first one I’ve experienced! Disney may never make a story about one, but Aaamna Qureshi sure did and she did a beautiful job! Durkhanai is such a relatable, flawed protagonist to follow, and I cannot wait to see where her journey takes her next. She also wears the most fabulous lenghas and chudiyan. This is the first time I’ve read a story that does Desi clothing justice in its descriptions! I can’t talk about this book without talking about the romance because it was such a big part of this book. Shockingly, I actually wasn’t immediately invested in it. Of course I appreciated the banter and classic romance tropes used, but it takes a lot for me to actually truly care about a fictional couple. I need a feeling in my gut saying “WOW I NEED THESE TWO TO GET TOGETHER!” And by the end of this book, I found that feeling. Durkhanai and Asfandyar are icons and I love them so much, individually and together. Asfandyar is biracial, which made for a beautiful interracial romance that didn’t involve any white people, which is rare. The obstacle of race is very real when it comes to Desis pursuing a relationship with someone that isn’t Desi, and I really appreciated this book addressing that. The writing in this book is immaculate. This book’s prose is lyricism at its finest. I will say that some metaphors felt a little too exaggerated or out of place, but for the most part they brought out so much emotion. Whether it was the descriptions of the gorgeous palace in the mountains, the inner struggles of our main characters, or just a conversation between cousins, Aamna Qureshi’s debut writing was so fun to read. The story has mysteries and twists and lots of spying. It’s a fun ride that will keep you guessing, and really, I didn’t see many plot points coming. Prepare to be shocked quite a few times! I honestly don’t have much to complain about with this book. There were a few parts where the story felt a bit stagnant, but I enjoyed spending more time with these characters. One thing I will say that felt a bit strange was the Muslim representaion. This is a fantasy world, so it was a bit confusing trying to understand how Islam fit in it. Also, some characters seemed to believe certain deeds were sins and when they did them, I felt like it was brushed over. I would’ve appreciated the characters discussing that more. I will never forget this book for making me feel seen as a Paksitani teen like few other books have made me feel. No other book has made me wish I was a Pakistani princess so that I could have an infinite supply of mango lassi and samosas at the ready hehe. This book tackled issues like dealing with close-minded family, the struggle of being in an interracial relationship, being torn between blood and love, and so much more that I am so grateful for. The Lady or the Lion is an impactful, heart-wrenching story of love and family and discovering what you truly value the most. It comes out on June 22nd, and I will be cheering it on every day till then.

  4. 5 out of 5

    gauri

    ~4.5 stars~ check out the full review along with an aesthetic on my blog! The Lady or the Lion was a fantastic and refreshing read. This is a debut people shouldn't miss out on. From the beginning, I was charmed by the poetic writing which tugged at my emotions in the right place. The beautiful descriptions of the setting literally transported me to the land of Marghazar. And the Pakistani culture elements included in the story were a delight to read for my south asian heart, especially the ment ~4.5 stars~ check out the full review along with an aesthetic on my blog! The Lady or the Lion was a fantastic and refreshing read. This is a debut people shouldn't miss out on. From the beginning, I was charmed by the poetic writing which tugged at my emotions in the right place. The beautiful descriptions of the setting literally transported me to the land of Marghazar. And the Pakistani culture elements included in the story were a delight to read for my south asian heart, especially the mentions of chai and samosa that made me hungry while reading. Durkhanai, our protagonist, is flawed and sharp. I loved reading her character arc as we get to see her different sides. I loved how she was attached to her family and their reputation and also how emotional she was. Of course, her love interest Asfandyar is also another strong character. Their romance, however forbidden, made me root for them till the end. And it had some of my favourite tropes. Ah, the ending had me at the edge of my seat. Though I guessed the betrayal that was to come, I was too engrossed in reading how Aamna Qureshi pieced it all together. I'm still stunned by the ending. My heart goes out to Durkhanai and the decision she had to make. The side characters also had significant importance in the story. Overall, The Lady or the Lion is a very enjoyable read and is sure to be loved by South Asian and Muslim readers. Thank you Edelweiss and publisher for the ARC

  5. 4 out of 5

    Raeesah Da'Neer

    Thank you so so much to the most lovely Aamna for gifting me an ARC! This was such a fantastic read, I enjoyed every page turn!! The writing was so beautiful and poetic Aamna really is extremely talented ‘Ma Sha’ Allah!!! It felt so refreshing reading about authentic south Asian rep, written so magnificently at that. The characters were amazing, I really admired Durkhanai. I’ll be honest this book made me hungry also and nostalgic of authentic south Asian food. The last 50 pages had me on edge o Thank you so so much to the most lovely Aamna for gifting me an ARC! This was such a fantastic read, I enjoyed every page turn!! The writing was so beautiful and poetic Aamna really is extremely talented ‘Ma Sha’ Allah!!! It felt so refreshing reading about authentic south Asian rep, written so magnificently at that. The characters were amazing, I really admired Durkhanai. I’ll be honest this book made me hungry also and nostalgic of authentic south Asian food. The last 50 pages had me on edge omg I couldn’t stop reading. The plot twists and reveals really blew my mind. Al’hamdulilah this was such an enjoyable read and I look forward to more of Aamna’s works!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    EDIT: 3.5 stars *may change TW: anti-blackness Errr, alright. Where do I begin? As a Young Adult romance with court intrigue, this reads...like a Young Adult romance with court intrigue. It's sweet, it's funny at times, it has the infamous "moody rebellious teenagers" thing going on, so on and so on. Basically, if you love YA and you love romance, I'd say this is a book for you. Me, personally? I'm not really a fan of YA, but I don't think it bothered me much here. (view spoiler)[Also, I actually EDIT: 3.5 stars *may change TW: anti-blackness Errr, alright. Where do I begin? As a Young Adult romance with court intrigue, this reads...like a Young Adult romance with court intrigue. It's sweet, it's funny at times, it has the infamous "moody rebellious teenagers" thing going on, so on and so on. Basically, if you love YA and you love romance, I'd say this is a book for you. Me, personally? I'm not really a fan of YA, but I don't think it bothered me much here. (view spoiler)[Also, I actually enjoy betrayal trope a lot, I do. I don't enjoy it when the person being betrayed continues to trust them wholeheartedly and love them. Okay, continue to love them, sure, but damn I want some, like, anger! I want them to lose a little faith! Make the betrayal really have a punch in there! Asfandyar was literally working for her father the whole time to spy on her, like, I wanted more conflict than him immediately being sent to trial and the story ending! Ah, well, this is just a personal preference. (hide spoiler)] Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing an advanced reader's copy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rameela (Star)

    Initial thoughts: While the beginning took some time to get through it really took me by surprise after halfway. Definitely intrigued and I absolutely yelled at the ending because I didn't realize it was not a standalone! More thoughts to come Initial thoughts: While the beginning took some time to get through it really took me by surprise after halfway. Definitely intrigued and I absolutely yelled at the ending because I didn't realize it was not a standalone! More thoughts to come

  8. 4 out of 5

    shan

    i was lucky enough to receive an arc of this book from the author herself, and wow. it blew me away. i immediately fell in love with the writing, the description of this beautiful pakistan-inspired land, the complex characters and their relationships. as a pakistani girl i can't put into words how amazing it was to see urdu words and part of my culture so seamlessly weaved in with the story. reading this book, i felt as though i had been transported to the beautiful land of marghazar, and isn't i was lucky enough to receive an arc of this book from the author herself, and wow. it blew me away. i immediately fell in love with the writing, the description of this beautiful pakistan-inspired land, the complex characters and their relationships. as a pakistani girl i can't put into words how amazing it was to see urdu words and part of my culture so seamlessly weaved in with the story. reading this book, i felt as though i had been transported to the beautiful land of marghazar, and isn't that what every reader wishes when they're reading a book? to feel as though they can see the setting come to life before their eyes? i also would just like to mention that the last 50 or so pages had me on the edge of my seat, and that ending genuinely made me want to scream, but i loved every minute of this book and i cannot wait for it to come out so everyone can read this masterpiece. also, the cover reveal is next week and i can't wait for everyone to see it!!! it's absolutely beautiful

  9. 5 out of 5

    julianna ➹

    i thought the cover of this was so incredibly ugly until i clicked "enlarge cover" whAT THE HELL THAT'S A PAINTING NOT A PHOTO?????? anyways utterly in love with the premise, still hate the font of the cover tho <3 i thought the cover of this was so incredibly ugly until i clicked "enlarge cover" whAT THE HELL THAT'S A PAINTING NOT A PHOTO?????? anyways utterly in love with the premise, still hate the font of the cover tho <3

  10. 4 out of 5

    sam

    being a south asian, i was so happy when i first read the synopsis. a pakistani fantasy book? sign me up. desi representation in books is not something one sees everyday and even if we do get some brown characters, they appear once in a blue moon. reading this book made me realize how proud i am of my culture, of my heritage, my ethnicity. the language our characters sometimes use just made me scream because urdu and hindi are so similar and i understood every single thing what our mc durkhaina s being a south asian, i was so happy when i first read the synopsis. a pakistani fantasy book? sign me up. desi representation in books is not something one sees everyday and even if we do get some brown characters, they appear once in a blue moon. reading this book made me realize how proud i am of my culture, of my heritage, my ethnicity. the language our characters sometimes use just made me scream because urdu and hindi are so similar and i understood every single thing what our mc durkhaina spoke with her dhadi or someone else. the descriptions - from food items like samosas to the clothing used like kurtas and lehengas - perfect. ALSO THE MANGO SCENE OH MY GOD i loved the writing style, its just *chefs kiss* beautiful. the plot, the plot twists, the characters, the setting, every small detail we get about the characters, everything about this book is amazing ! my words just wont do justice to the emotions im feeling at the moment. i loved every single thing about this book and i hope everyone reads it. also can we appreciate the politics in this book? it was written and executed so well. i want book 2 rn ! the ending was such a cliffhanger i need it i need it i need it. thankyou aamna qureshi for bringing to us this book, these characters and for making me feel represented. thankyou edelweiss + for sending me the E-ARC of this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sanah

    My mind is still spinning from that ending. This was a beautiful and vibrant story, full of color and love, and then tinged with betrayal and heartache. Trust me when I say this is not a book you want to miss out on. We start the story off with Durkhanai, the young princess who strives to prove her grandfather’s innocence as her palace is filled with foreign ambassadors demanding answers for a deadly summit attack. While her goal may seem simple, the journey is anything but, and she finds hers My mind is still spinning from that ending. This was a beautiful and vibrant story, full of color and love, and then tinged with betrayal and heartache. Trust me when I say this is not a book you want to miss out on. We start the story off with Durkhanai, the young princess who strives to prove her grandfather’s innocence as her palace is filled with foreign ambassadors demanding answers for a deadly summit attack. While her goal may seem simple, the journey is anything but, and she finds herself wrapped up in politics and court intrigue, not knowing who to trust and who to suspect, but perhaps most pressing of all, not knowing who to love. “She knew what she felt for him was otherworldly, but what she couldn’t quite figure out was whether it was from heaven or hell.” Aamna’s writing is something special. There are so many stunning lines in this book, and I’m aching to share some, but for now I will just drop one: "He sunk his teeth into her heart and she let him." Safe to say, the romance in this book both made me swoon and made me want to scream. The angst! The tension! The drama! Forbidden love is my favorite romantic trope, hands-down. The secrecy of it all! I live for it, and it was so so well done in this book. The South Asian representation was amazing, the clothing, the dialogue, the jewelry, the Urdu, the food! It made me miss India. (note: this world is Pakistan-inspired.) The mentions of mango lassi, samosas, chai being available whenever Durkhanai felt like calling for it. I loved it; though it made me hungry lol, it was such fun to read. The setting was enchanting. I could feel the chill and the brightness of the mountains, the clarity as the characters gaze out at the starry sky. I could envision the serenity as characters walked through soft grass past waterfalls and mountain streams. I loved the imagery and it truly made the story come to life in the most vivid way. Though the pacing at the beginning felt a bit slow, it all contributed to the incredible build and the shocking twists at the end. I was so caught off guard by how things turned out, and it was a conclusion I don’t think many readers will be able to guess. The protagonist, Durkhanai, is wonderfully witty and sharp, kind yet flawed, and the different layers of her personality really come through while we experience all that she has to deal with, and witness the lengths that she goes to in order to defend her family and their honor and reputation. She is such a compelling, interesting character, and I can’t wait to see the decisions she makes in the sequel. The side characters were wonderful as well; Durkhanai’s cousins added so much to the story, and for the sake of spoilers I won’t mention more, but I can’t wait to see them get more development and time in the sequel. I loved reading about the concept of family loyalty, the question of how strong is blood, and should we really put our full faith in those who were are connected to no matter what? Durkhanai had to make some hard decisions in this book, and I really enjoyed the fact that none of them were made lightly; she is a character who puts so much thought and consideration into things, and it makes her all the more interesting to read about. This story means so much to me and I’m so happy I read it. I already know that the sequel is going to be devastating and powerful and shocking and thrilling and I cannot wait!! [4.5 stars] Full review and additional thoughts will be up on my blog around publishing time!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    nessma

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. [digital arc provided by the publisher via edelweiss in exchange for an honest review] rating: 3.5★ all i knew going into this book that it was a fairytale retelling that features pakistani-muslim characters and i called all in! to be fair, if i had to rate this book subjectively i’d say it’s a solid 3 stars—just because i think i’ve grown out of most tropes in young-adult and romance, so some things didn’t click with me that much. that aside to be discussed later though, i can definitely see how T [digital arc provided by the publisher via edelweiss in exchange for an honest review] rating: 3.5★ all i knew going into this book that it was a fairytale retelling that features pakistani-muslim characters and i called all in! to be fair, if i had to rate this book subjectively i’d say it’s a solid 3 stars—just because i think i’ve grown out of most tropes in young-adult and romance, so some things didn’t click with me that much. that aside to be discussed later though, i can definitely see how TLOTL would be appealing to YA romance readers! what i loved the most: the writing. such beautiful prose and delicately handled phrasing that made me smile in pure appreciation. oh how i wish people talked like that in real life. the romantics of life through the pretty words the author managed to weave together to craft the storytelling of this book was just incredibly admirable. i enjoyed it a lot. i also loved the politics; there were political intrigue and discussions of classist systems and racism with the ongoing illness that was interesting to read about and i wish there were more we could’ve delved deeper into! now, as for durkhanai, she was the kind of protagonist that would defy all orders, go against all warnings, do whatever, then come back crying regretful of her actions...then does it all over again. her narrative voice was very self-centered and narrow and she seemed to be easily swayed whenever someone presented her with new information and it bothered me a lot sometimes. though i could defend that i guess, because she’s been under her grandparents’ shell for all of her life and all of her gullible actions are a result of being that contained. durkhanai and asfandyar’s relationship was one that started with instantly harboring unbearable attraction for one another, which kind of took me off guard from the very first chapter. there was also a point in the story where asfandyar’s whole characterization shifted because a change in their relationship with each other and it felt like he was a totally different person and i don’t know how to feel about that. but it was still fun to read their back-and-forth. some of the internal conflicts annoyed me a little but these could easily be excused as they’re young and in love and under huge pressure to protect each’s people. and even though the reveal in the ending had started building up early on, i was still entertained to see what happened and oh how i am excited for the second book! i also appreciated the undertones of the serious themes presented in the book, neocolonialism being one of those. i loved the rep that was the whole of this book and i really wish i could understand urdu so i can instantly get the little phrases sprinkled throughout the book. the lady or the lion is a warm romantic tale that is both hopeful and depressing, and even though there were some aspects that didn’t necessarily click with me preference-wise, i’m excited to read the rest of the series and walk along these characters some more! tw: suicide, murder, contagious disease, racism, classism, manipulation, dysfunctional family, death of loved ones, murder of a child, neocolonialism

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fizah(Books tales by me)

    Thanks to the author for sending me this eARC for an honest review Find the full review on my blog https://bookstalebyme.wordpress.com/2... It is one of my most anticipated reads of the year and when Aamna Qureshi offered me to send an eARC, I was over the moon. I haven’t read many books representing Pakistan and a Pakistani-Fantasy? why I would say no. I know our culture is so rich and complex which is just perfect for any Fantasy world setting. Durkhanai is the princess of Marghazar, her grandpar Thanks to the author for sending me this eARC for an honest review Find the full review on my blog https://bookstalebyme.wordpress.com/2... It is one of my most anticipated reads of the year and when Aamna Qureshi offered me to send an eARC, I was over the moon. I haven’t read many books representing Pakistan and a Pakistani-Fantasy? why I would say no. I know our culture is so rich and complex which is just perfect for any Fantasy world setting. Durkhanai is the princess of Marghazar, her grandparents rule Marghazar, she is directly next in kin to inherit the throne. There was a deadly assault on a summit and all the eyes on Marghazar, all the ambassadors from the neighbouring tribal districts are in the castle to find out the truth. Durkhanai is so enthusiastic to defend her grandparents and people. If I’ll talk about the plot, It was pretty disappointing. Whatever is in the synopsis it is loosely the whole story. Durkhanai is 17 and a princess she is supposed to be strong head and smart, but her character development is so cringy and totally unlikeable. She is more of a whiny teenager who knows nothing better than keep pouting, I was forced to think that she got some serious disorder, her pouting in the book went just out of the hands. Her grandparents were just there, I mean she is doing all the stupid stuff but in the half of the book her grandparents are absent or if they are there it is only for sake of showering their love on her, which I couldn’t relate to, they were pretty one-dimensional. Asfandyar’s only personality trait was his curly hair and everyone keeps mentioning it. Zarmina and Saifullah couldn’t be more filler characters. The chemistry between Durkhanai and Asfandyar didn’t attract me a bit. The romance was so cringy and it wasn’t Muslim rep. Doesn’t matter how much all the characters kept mentioning that they are religious. But romance? It wasn’t halal. It disappointed the hell out of me. They were all so touchy-touchy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    mesal

    *3.5 stars I picked up this book mainly because of its description. A Pakistan-inspired world, with Pakistani Muslim characters, a royal family and court intrigues? I was immediately sold. It helped that this is a retelling of 'The Lady or the Tiger?', a short story with no real solution, an unsolvable problem left up to the readers to interpret as they wish. Considering this full-length novel was based on a short story, I think the author did rather well on delivering: the characters are fleshed *3.5 stars I picked up this book mainly because of its description. A Pakistan-inspired world, with Pakistani Muslim characters, a royal family and court intrigues? I was immediately sold. It helped that this is a retelling of 'The Lady or the Tiger?', a short story with no real solution, an unsolvable problem left up to the readers to interpret as they wish. Considering this full-length novel was based on a short story, I think the author did rather well on delivering: the characters are fleshed out, the plot thoroughly developed, a reason given for every action taken. The fact that I understood every word given in the Urdu language elevated my experience – seeing something inherent to my life, portrayed on a page, pleased me greatly. My rating reflects not only the good, but also the areas which I felt were not for me. Simply put, it boils down to personal preference: neither romance nor young adult as genres really appeal to me anymore. I picked the book up, despite knowing how it was categorized, solely for the experience of reading about fellow Pakistani Muslim characters (and on that point it provided plenty of content that engaged me well); Asfandyar and Durkhanai's insta-attraction, their romance, the writing style in general were all clearly geared towards a different audience. Keep in mind, though, that if you're a young adult who doesn't dislike the insta-attraction trope, this book is a good read! (view spoiler)[Note from a reader who couldn't help but speak up on this: the gradual changes from pyaar to ishq to mohabbat really resonated with me. The English language really does not do love justice. (hide spoiler)] Thank you to Edelweiss and CamCat Books for providing me with a free ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Luna

    I need therapy...please tell me there will be a sequel Well, I enjoyed this one. The Lady or the Lion by Aamna Qureshi is a Pakistani inspired young adult fantasy (though I believe that the magical element is nonexistent unless we are counting the beautiful mountains and luscious prose).  Y'all I was totally invested in the romance. I never knew I liked angsty forbidden romance until I read this book. By the end, everything makes sense, I promise. It isn't something new or unique but Aamna Qureshi I need therapy...please tell me there will be a sequel Well, I enjoyed this one. The Lady or the Lion by Aamna Qureshi is a Pakistani inspired young adult fantasy (though I believe that the magical element is nonexistent unless we are counting the beautiful mountains and luscious prose).  Y'all I was totally invested in the romance. I never knew I liked angsty forbidden romance until I read this book. By the end, everything makes sense, I promise. It isn't something new or unique but Aamna Qureshi writes in a way that you can't help but fall in love with their romance...at least a little. Of course, the protagonists are young - Durkhanai (17) and Asfandyar (19) sometimes behave in a way that makes me shake my head a little but they are very young. Ah, I can forever talk about the descriptions of clothes, mountains and the sky. The writing, in my opinion, awakens every sense organ in the reader. Oh, to read a book like this with a full poc cast. The plot twists are good, I couldn't see them coming. Of course, the characters are Muslim but they do not strictly follow the rules and their concept of sin is at times shaky and I wish it was better addressed.  But, ah, I ship these two so hard. I can't stop thinking about them. Am I being too generous with my star rating? Probably. But, I very much enjoyed it💔😭❤ *I cannot thank CamCat Books and Edelweiss enough for the e-ARC. Of course, the opinions are my own.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Faiza Susan

    I got a Beta version of this book so no spoilers but this book is AMAZING!!!!!! The way the author instantly transports you to the Northern areas of Pakistan, you can almost feel as though you are there! being Pakistani Muslim myself, I loved how the author used urdu phrases and had inserts of Islam put in there which just were just utterly delightful! The 2 main characters I love alot, particularly the heroine as I see such of myself in her and you instantly root for her! I love especially how e I got a Beta version of this book so no spoilers but this book is AMAZING!!!!!! The way the author instantly transports you to the Northern areas of Pakistan, you can almost feel as though you are there! being Pakistani Muslim myself, I loved how the author used urdu phrases and had inserts of Islam put in there which just were just utterly delightful! The 2 main characters I love alot, particularly the heroine as I see such of myself in her and you instantly root for her! I love especially how everything the author does, she does purposefully and masterfully. You are constantly propelled and hooked to this story and I'm already salivating at the sequel tbh! When this book comes out I will have a much more detailed update but for now 5 stars (if I could, I'd do higher!)

  17. 5 out of 5

    birdie

    dnf @ 67% - i hate to be this person. the lady or the lion has an amazing premise and above all really important representation, so i don't want anyone to let this review stop them from picking this up. aamna qureshi filled this book with wonderful, descriptive prose, which makes me even sadder to dnf this because like...the talent!! but the writing and the concept are about all i really liked here. the main problem for me was that from the start, i felt like i was thrown into a story with no info dnf @ 67% - i hate to be this person. the lady or the lion has an amazing premise and above all really important representation, so i don't want anyone to let this review stop them from picking this up. aamna qureshi filled this book with wonderful, descriptive prose, which makes me even sadder to dnf this because like...the talent!! but the writing and the concept are about all i really liked here. the main problem for me was that from the start, i felt like i was thrown into a story with no information whatsoever. i was really confused and therefore couldn't really enjoy what i was reading. i pushed through and hoped it would get clearer, but unfortunately not... (my confusion had nothing to do with any culture - i could've easily looked that up - but it was more the general storyline and what was happening.) i also felt like the dynamic between the love interest and the main character was not for me. it felt insta-lovey and a bit forced. so yeah, this is all very much a "me"-problem. i'm incredibly sad this wasn't for me, but i hope you'll love it!!

  18. 4 out of 5

    aashna

    THAT ENDING IM SCREAMING FULL RTC

  19. 5 out of 5

    s

    Aamna Qureshi definitely has a talent for storytelling because The Lady or the Lion captivated me within reading the first few chapters. The book was full of beautiful descriptions of Pakistan, a country I'm proud to call home so it was really nice reading about it. Our main characters, Durkhanai and Asfandyar are strong and unique characters and I enjoyed reading through their perspectives. I would say that the romance in the book is my favourite part - it's so well done and has all the best tr Aamna Qureshi definitely has a talent for storytelling because The Lady or the Lion captivated me within reading the first few chapters. The book was full of beautiful descriptions of Pakistan, a country I'm proud to call home so it was really nice reading about it. Our main characters, Durkhanai and Asfandyar are strong and unique characters and I enjoyed reading through their perspectives. I would say that the romance in the book is my favourite part - it's so well done and has all the best tropes! Lastly, the plot was simply amazing and unpredictable. The elements of fantasy in a Muslim world was a first-time read for me so that was the most memorable part for me. Overall, if you enjoy historical fiction, Muslim representation and an addicting romance this book is a perfect read! Also, the ending was insanely wild and I need a sequel right now! Thank you to Edelweiss+ for the eARC of this book. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amani

    I’m not going to give any spoilers away but this book was everything I could want. It is a Pakistani - inspired young adult fantasy and you will crave the food when you’re reading. The writing is beautiful! If you’re a fan of These Violent Delights and The Wrath and The Dawn, then you’ll love this one!!! Fair Warning: I wanted samosas and chai a lot this week and when you’re reading this, you might find yourself craving it too. I have a review that will be posted on the pub date on pop-culturali I’m not going to give any spoilers away but this book was everything I could want. It is a Pakistani - inspired young adult fantasy and you will crave the food when you’re reading. The writing is beautiful! If you’re a fan of These Violent Delights and The Wrath and The Dawn, then you’ll love this one!!! Fair Warning: I wanted samosas and chai a lot this week and when you’re reading this, you might find yourself craving it too. I have a review that will be posted on the pub date on pop-culturalist.command I just wanted to say a quick thank you to Aamna Qureshi for gifting me an ARC for review. As always, all opinions are my own!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mizu

    A Pakistan-inspired YA fantasy? Sign me up!! 💚

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mjspice

    IS THAT A PAINTED COVER?? IS THAT A PAINTED COVER??

  23. 5 out of 5

    Umairah | Sereadipity

    THAT ENDING

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Lady or the Lion in exchange for an honest review. This is a really ambitious story to try and adapt into a fully length novel, and I think Aamna handled that beautifully. I love the way Qureshi decides to answer a story that's never had one before but unfortunately, until then, this book didn't really captivate me. I don't think it had anything to do with Qureshi's narration (it's very well done. All the comfort and hallmarks of the historical Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC of The Lady or the Lion in exchange for an honest review. This is a really ambitious story to try and adapt into a fully length novel, and I think Aamna handled that beautifully. I love the way Qureshi decides to answer a story that's never had one before but unfortunately, until then, this book didn't really captivate me. I don't think it had anything to do with Qureshi's narration (it's very well done. All the comfort and hallmarks of the historical romance genre with a lot of added flair and introspection I really appreciated) or world building (though a few plot aspects seemed a tad rushed over pacing wise), but just a matter of preference. The states of The Lady or the Tiger are really dependent on how one views the supposed romance at its center, and this just wasn't the kind of romance I can really get behind. I'm not opposed to it, the dynamics are just very stereotypically straight historical romance which isn't personally my jam. If it's yours though, give this a go.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rach

    I can't read or review this book as the file is incompatible with kindle. I can't read or review this book as the file is incompatible with kindle.

  26. 5 out of 5

    mightazerie

    i’ve never rated a book this high for quite some time, years maybe. it’s been a while since i’ve read something so beautifully written i had acknowledge it every time i’m reading and read a gorgeous written verse. in a sense it delivered the wrath and the dawn feel it promised and that i was after in the first place, the only thing i’m looking for in a book actually and also has tvd and the winner’s curse vibes all of which books i liked. it took me a while to read but the interest never wavered i’ve never rated a book this high for quite some time, years maybe. it’s been a while since i’ve read something so beautifully written i had acknowledge it every time i’m reading and read a gorgeous written verse. in a sense it delivered the wrath and the dawn feel it promised and that i was after in the first place, the only thing i’m looking for in a book actually and also has tvd and the winner’s curse vibes all of which books i liked. it took me a while to read but the interest never wavered and was always constant whenever i got back to reading it. they are enemies in a way that they serve different purposes but i kind of hoped as i always do that the dynamics would’ve been more intense and the revenge is intended toward the love interest but we can’t everything lmao. but it had the flirt x not smug not having it trope so i’m good that works too. (doesn’t really count as insta-love tho i don’t think it’s not so much about the months passed but it’s about the hostile feelings and thoughts they have for each other at first and not just instantly pretending to hate them when they find them attractive which is less convincing) there’s a tragic backstory can’t miss that also that ending!!!!!! the way it makes you ponder deeply than when you first read the story fairytale this book is based on as a retelling! i need the second book now!!! i need all the underrated tales of the middle east to literally have an enemies to lovers retelling!! i hope the authors get on with it. kind reminder that 4 stars means really liked it and if it’s 4.1 or 4.99 that’s on you to decide reader if this review last but not the least thank you to the publisher camcat books for approving to read this book even though i didn’t think i was gonna be approved and to ms. aamna the author for being kind and supportive on twt!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    nidhi

    Thank you to Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for a review! This book was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and I was so happy to receive an ARC of this! The blurb said it was a desi retelling of The Lady or the Tiger? It sold me! When I dived into the world I had a very faint idea about it and I absolutely loved the way Aamna crafted it, the narration was simple yet indulging and the story was really well-paced. I loved how the story took its time to develop the characters, their ba Thank you to Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for a review! This book was one of my most anticipated reads of this year and I was so happy to receive an ARC of this! The blurb said it was a desi retelling of The Lady or the Tiger? It sold me! When I dived into the world I had a very faint idea about it and I absolutely loved the way Aamna crafted it, the narration was simple yet indulging and the story was really well-paced. I loved how the story took its time to develop the characters, their backstories and their current dilemmas, I was truly in awe and enjoyed every bit of it. The book is based on a short story and yet the author has managed to write an engaging storyline with relatable characters. Moreover, the DESI REFERENCES!!!! I was swooning all the time when they were there and it made my experience of the book even better! If you're looking for a well-written historical retelling that is ownvoices and has really easy going narrative, then I'm sure you'd enjoy this!

  28. 5 out of 5

    chloe a.

    a strong debut with a character-driven story, rich with Pakistani culture that you really don’t want to miss out on. while the focal point is romance, you learn a lot about Pakistani food and culture through this story. the atmosphere was extremely pleasant and cosy, and that is also thanks to our narrator, the Princess. Durkhanai is one badass princess and I enjoyed reading about her! she’s kind-hearted and you immediately sympathise with her feelings and thoughts. she’s truly a great protagonis a strong debut with a character-driven story, rich with Pakistani culture that you really don’t want to miss out on. while the focal point is romance, you learn a lot about Pakistani food and culture through this story. the atmosphere was extremely pleasant and cosy, and that is also thanks to our narrator, the Princess. Durkhanai is one badass princess and I enjoyed reading about her! she’s kind-hearted and you immediately sympathise with her feelings and thoughts. she’s truly a great protagonist! her banter with Asfandyar kept it light, and oh, the yearning, PLEASE give me more!! I loved this book and suffered and cried and yelled and I CANT WITH THIS OKAY. DEAR GOD. the last THIRD. brain is mush. dni. READ IT.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Liya

    Just to start off, my deepest apologies to Aamna for posting the review so late sjkdhks ya I don’t have any excuses here Also my deepest congrats to Aamna for having such a well written debut, BEYOND proud and thrilled to see where else she goes. If I had to, I’d summarize the book as a political drama involving a romance between the strong headed princess and an ambassador of the “enemy” territory. In short, this is such a serve for all the contemporary romance lovers. Aamna writes old tropes w Just to start off, my deepest apologies to Aamna for posting the review so late sjkdhks ya I don’t have any excuses here Also my deepest congrats to Aamna for having such a well written debut, BEYOND proud and thrilled to see where else she goes. If I had to, I’d summarize the book as a political drama involving a romance between the strong headed princess and an ambassador of the “enemy” territory. In short, this is such a serve for all the contemporary romance lovers. Aamna writes old tropes with fresh nuances and amazing chemistry between characters. In fact, one of my favorite things in the book has to be how layered every character and relationships they have are. Even with characters that don’t ‘show up’ a lot, they are given adequate narrative importance. But my absolute favorite thing about the book is the setting and how BLOODY BEATUFULLY it is described. I was instantly taken into the alps of Pakistan and I felt chilled and utterly at peace and awe of the beauty. And speaking of my feelings… there were A Lot. Don’t let the pretty cover and pretty princess and the pretty setting fool you; this is an absolute angst fest!! Every other chapter, I either wanna scream or cry. And the last 50 pages is just … chef’s kiss. Splendid. Although the book is set in Pakistan and there is a heavy influence of Pakistani culture and an even more beautifully incorporated use of the language (Urdu), it is still written in a way that non Pakistanis or south Asians would be able to understand and appreciate the heart touching moments (and there are A Lot. Seriously this was an angst fest). 5/5 absolutely recommend everyone go read this!!!!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anakta

    Thank you, Edelweiss for sending me an e-ARC for this book! I’d seen a few snippets of TLOTL on my Twitter timeline and right away, I was intrigued. A purely desi book, set in Pakistan? I was immediately sold. Seeing brown characters taking the spotlight when brown representation is so few and far between made me feel so happy. I felt incredibly elated when I read the desi references and they immediately clicked in my mind. The description of the dresses- the lehangas, the saris, the kurtas- was f Thank you, Edelweiss for sending me an e-ARC for this book! I’d seen a few snippets of TLOTL on my Twitter timeline and right away, I was intrigued. A purely desi book, set in Pakistan? I was immediately sold. Seeing brown characters taking the spotlight when brown representation is so few and far between made me feel so happy. I felt incredibly elated when I read the desi references and they immediately clicked in my mind. The description of the dresses- the lehangas, the saris, the kurtas- was flawless. Reading about all the desi food made my mouth water and immediately crave a samosa, hot naan or spiced pulao. The language the characters used sometimes made me jump up and squeal because it was so fitting and I could understand what they were saying because Urdu and Hindi have so many similarities. It made me feel all kinds of soft when I saw a language I know being used casually by characters I adore, in print. The world building was excellent. The gorgeous way the setting had been described made it very easy for me to imagine the mountains, rivers and trees and feel like I was right there breathing in the mountain air. The writing style was simple yet elegant. Some of the prose was very evocative and beautifully written. The politics is very intricately written, and highly intellectual as well. Words like zilla, tehsil etc were really familiar to me because I see them being used everyday. Another point in making me feel at home in this book. Durkhanai as a protagonist is really well written. She is complex and not without flaws. Incredibly well developed and three dimensional, I loved her, her thoughts and her conflict. Her dislike for haldi doodh i.e. turmeric milk (that is absolutely nasty) made me chuckle because I’m exactly the same. A plucky princess, she’s absolutely devoted to her people and loyal to a fault. Her character arc was beautifully handled and we see her slowly go from a petulant and sheltered princess to someone regal, with empathy. Although, sometimes her stubbornness made me very frustrated with her and I wanted nothing more than to jump in to the book and give her a good shake. Asfandyar, a charismatic and enigmatic ambassador with plenty of secrets hidden behind dimpled grins and bright eyes. I adored his and Durkhanai’s banter from their very first meeting. The romance in this was well paced, and utterly engaging. And the tension and chemistry that Asfandyar and Durkhanai had, hit me right in the feels. The nuanced way the subtle differences between pyaar, ishq and mohabbat were highlighted, made me finally understand that these three words though similar were still vastly different. The plot twist in the end. Never saw it coming at all. Yes, there was a lot of foreshadowing but would I have guessed the reveal? Absolutely not. And with that gigantic cliffhanger ending, I find myself extremely impatient for book 2. My gratitude to Aamna Qureshi for bringing these characters to life and making me feel seen in a book, the way I rarely do.

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