Third in Zehanat Khan’s Khorasan Archives fantasy series (after The Black Khan), this rousing quest celebrates feminist heroines Arian, First Oralist of Hira, and her companion, Sinnia, who struggle to overthrow the anti-intellectual and patriarchal Talisman. Ashfall, the Black Khan’s capital, is being besieged by the Talisman and heroically defended by the Khan as well as Arian’s lover, Daniyar. Arian and Sinnia travel perilously in search of the Sana Codex, which may hold the key to their eventual victory over the Talisman. These parallel adventures are hampered by continually shifting alliances and revelations of eerie and often malignant powers. Zehanat Khan’s fondness for giving important figures multiple titles often dilutes her narrative pace, causing frequent references to her glossary and voluminous cast of characters. Her lush descriptive passages, echoes of Mideastern lore, and alluring glimpses of idyllic love ring true, and readers will linger on her central message of defiance against destructive book-burning purges and other violence meant to preserve the status quo. With strong writing and vigorous pacing, this is a satisfying addition to the series. Agent: Danielle Burby, Nelson Literary. (Oct.)Correction: An earlier version of this review incorrectly stated this book was the third volume in a trilogy.