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She has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself.

After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won…and souls will be lost.

471 pages, Hardcover

First published June 27, 2017

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About the author

Kiersten White

59 books12.8k followers
Kiersten White is the #1 New York Times bestselling, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of many books, including the And I Darken series, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, Star Wars: Padawan, the Sinister Summer series, and HIDE. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, where they obsessively care for their deeply ambivalent tortoise. Visit Kiersten online at KierstenWhite.com and follow @KierstenWhite on Twitter.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,850 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,992 reviews298k followers
May 10, 2017
"They are soldiers. They depend upon routine, and anything out of the ordinary will give them pause. And they are men. They hate to be insulted, but they love to hear others mocked. And they are fools, because they cannot imagine that a woman alone in the woods would be a threat."

That was AWESOME. I guess it's my "western" ignorance that keeps me thinking of this series as fantasy. It feels, to me at least, like fantasy. And yet, both And I Darken and Now I Rise are brutal, dark, fictional tales based on historical truth.

I love this reimagining of Vlad the Impaler as a woman called Lada. I love that Lada is allowed to be every bit as mean and bloodthirsty as Vlad, but also, somehow, demand sympathy from the reader. Well, from me anyway. She stands out as one of my favourite characters from all the YA series I've read in recent years, reminding me somewhat of Adelina from The Young Elites, but she's much nastier than that.

This book is - in short - about the fall of Constantinople and Lada's reclamation of Wallachia (you should read the actual history of this, if you're unfamiliar; it is fascinating). It is split into two stories that rarely meet, but both are extremely exciting and compelling.

Radu is working as an insider within Constantinople and reporting to Mehmed, but the handsome young Cyprian makes him start to wonder where his true loyalties lie. I love the moral conflicts of Radu's character, and the lessons he learns about life and love along the way. Lada, on the other hand, is so fucking badass. She must fight against all the male nobles and soldiers who dismiss her because of her sex, and she is torn between playing by their rules to gain an advantage, and saying "screw it!" and doing her own damn thing. She doesn't disappoint.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the funny banter between Lada and her loyal soldier boys on the road:
"She is so beautiful," Petru whispered, peering through the hedge they hid behind. "You look nothing like her."
Nicolae cringed. "And that, Petru, is why your line will die with you."

And THAT ending. Oh my, it was absolute perfection. I don't know what it says about me that I love reading about Lada and her perspective so much. But as much as she is a tough-as-nails murderess, it's hard not to have a certain admiration for her ingenuity and determination.

Look, I wouldn't come searching for historical accuracy in this series, but if you are looking for some seriously dark, seriously dramatic thrills-- I cannot recommend these books highly enough.

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Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,096 reviews17.7k followers
August 10, 2019
this is the gay masterpiece I deserved in the year of our lord 2017 and it is still a masterpiece in 2019

And I Darken was a well-written and developed book, but I had mixed feelings on the romance and wanted a bit more in the character department. I did not expect either aspect to improve. I definitely did not expect White to fix BOTH of my issues with book one. It's not often a sequel can surpass my expectations so much, but this sequel is undeniably better than book one. Now I Rise both does away with the love triangle drama and far surpasses book one in terms of character work.

Lada doesn't get any less fierce during this book; in fact, she gets even more brutal. Yet she's not heartless; she has some very compelling relationship development with several side characters. While she just doesn't have as far to go in terms of development, I still enjoyed her journey and conflict over duty to family.

And then there's Radu, who I didn't particularly care for in the first book. Here, though, he got an INCREDIBLE character arc. I am still reeling from this character arc. I cannot get over how much Radu has grown and changed and how much I LOVE HIM. Radu's inner debate over which side truly deserves to win Constantinople really stands out throughout the book, in both his internal and external conflict. It's incredibly difficult to write characters on both sides of the fence, but White executed it brilliantly.
How many ways could a man turn traitor in a lifetime?

Possibly my favorite aspect of the character work were the complex side characters. Between Nicolae, Cyprian, and Nazira, my absolute wife and favorite character of maybe the whole book, I just love everyone. None of these side characters are one-dimensional. Even my least favorite side characters never felt like plot devices; they're all morally ambiguous and they're all interesting.

I want to give Nazira an entire extra paragraph. What a fantastically developed character; both an ambitious person who wants vengeance, and a supportive cinnamon roll at the same time. A true lesbian icon.
“Hatred makes monsters of us all.”

I have to say, Nazira and Radu's platonic relationship development is one of my favorite parts of this book. It is really hard to find such strong and developed platonic friendships in YA. I loved how many characters made comments about how they clearly love each other, but without passion. They're two people who don't always trust others, but they are always so real with each other. And of course, their banter killed me and knocked me into the ground, where I'm still lying full of feelings. I care about their friendship even more than any of the romantic relationships in this book. My favorite kids who mlm and wlw solidarity.
“Side by side, and alone together.”

There's some great relationship development in this book, too. Lada and Radu and Mehmed's relationships with each other are of course still significant, but the new relationships introduced really stand out. Again, let me mention how much I love Nazira and Radu. But there are so many more! Lada's relationships with her many soldiers and a mentor she finds. But let's be real here: are the absolute crowning gem of the whole entire book, with so many heartbreaking moments and one of the most incredible slow build relationships I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. But don't worry, this book focuses on romance far less than book one.

I also LOVE the themes of Radu's section. Everything said about hate and islamophobia is so fucking on point and I love it.
“I know it is not rational. None of the people here were responsible for what happened to Fatima. But their mindless hatred of us, their demonizing of Islam, is what let the men do what they did.”

And all the themes about religion and its role. This series is so good at discussing religion in a non-offensive way. (Can we talk about how all of these quotes are from Nazira?)
“I think that is Constantinople's problem. They look to a painting to save them. They argue and debate over the state of their souls for the afterlife, while letting the needy in this life go hungry.”

The one issue with this book is that Lada's actual plotline is slightly less entertaining in comparison to Radu's. Part of this may be that Lada's character had her initial character arc last book, while Radu's character had almost all of his character arc in this book. Lada's arc here is slightly more external, where Radu's is both external and internal. It's not much of an issue, though; Lada's chapters would probably be my favorites in any other book. She's still so effortlessly compelling if only through her character development and her badassery.

There are a few thematic aspects here that I'm really liking. First of all, I love the emphasis here on working through internalized misogyny. I'd ask anyone who wants even more detail on this aspect to read Simona's review. I couldn't agree more with everything she says. And second of all? The queer rep is so important to me. Radu's struggle around feeling like a constant outsider is written with so much care and authenticity, and in this book, the development of Radu and Nazira's friendship just made my life. All the solidarity and all the queer genre fiction that deals with homophobia but isn't entirely about Pain, please. And also, thanks to Kiersten White for guaranteeing that no lesbians will die in this series. It's a really great guarantee to hear from an author in an environment where my immediate reaction to Nazira and Fatima's existence is "they're going to die, aren't they".

And also, can we talk ending? That ending was, emotionally, too much. And I think Kiersten White might have actually added a few details during the arc-to-book transition.

Basically, this was truly an incredible book, and I can't wait to see where the plot goes next. I love everything about Radu's storyline.

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Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
May 19, 2021

Do not lose that hunger. You will always have to fight... You will have to be more ruthless, more brutal, more everything.
Lada Dracul - Prince of Wallachia - is ready to rule her country...only that country refuses to be ruled by a Dracul or by a woman.

However, Lada has made her decision, and that is all that matters.
No one will be more brutal than me. No one will be more ruthless. And I will never stop fighting.
But she cannot rule alone - she has her loyal men, her childhood friend (Bogdan) and...well...that's about it.

What she desperately needs is the finesse and grace of her brother, Radu. His ease with political intricacies would allow her to take the throne with far less bloodshed...but he is unavailable.

Radu is just as hopelessly in love with Mehmed (the Sultan of the Ottomans) as he ever was. In a desperate bid for Mehmed's love, Radu plunges into the very pits of hell.
[Radu] had imagined Constantinople, had wanted it for Mehmed. It had been simple and straightforward. But now he knew the true cost of things, the murky horrors of the distance between wanting something and getting it.
Meanwhile, Mehmed (happy to get Radu out of his hair) sets off pursuing Lada but little does he know, only Wallachia has her heart.
The world will destroy her in the end. Too much spark leads to explosions.
Wow. I am stunned. Simply stunned.

Kiersten White has done it again - the way she crafts her characters and the way she sets up such intricate plots - I am in awe.

That being said, the middle of the book did feel a bit stagnant. Lada was all WALLACHIA while Radu was all CONSTANTINOPLE but despite their enthusiasm...they didn't seem like they were going very much of anywhere.

And yet...that ending though - made up for any and all stagnation! Lada is such a brutal badass. I love it.

A great sequel - through and through. I've got to get my hands on the third as soon as possible!

Audiobook Comments
Read by Fiona Hardingham - loved her voice. She did an excellent job with the characterizations!

The 2018 ABC Challenge - N

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Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,950 followers
June 28, 2017
Let us begin!!



**************THERE WILL BE SOME SPOILERS *************

Okay, so I freaking hate Mehmed! He was alright in the beginning of the first book when him and Lada, and Radu were just friends. And then he becomes Sultan and Lada encourages him and he's a prat! First off, I don't like that crap custom of having the harem. He's in love with Lada but popping out kids. My arse!

And Lada and Radu just keep loving him no matter what. The hell?

Anyhoo, Lada is off trying to get her throne of Wallachia and she's having a very hard time. No one cares for her and no one wants her to be prince. < -- Yes, prince. Assassins are trying to kill her but Lada and her men take care of most of that and then Lada just starts taking her revenge.

Lada knew punishing Transylvania for everything that had gone wrong in the past year did not make perfect strategic sense. But it felt better than anything else, and so Transylvania burned.

I love Lada's men. They are very loyal to her for the most part. Bogdan and Nicolae hold a special place in my heart. I also fell in love with Hunyadi who was an enemy at one time but became a great friend to Lada. Then that b••tard Mehmed happened!

Lada asked Radu to come to her and help her but he's stuck so far up Mehmed's rear end that he doesn't go. He's in love with the jerk. Once again, what the hell? Mehmed is doing nothing in this book but using Lada and Radu. I really hope Mehmed either takes a turn for the better in the next book or that Lada kills him deader than dead!

I love Radu's wife, Nazira. She was so much fun and so smart! She had me laughing a few times.

Then Mehmed sends Radu off to Constantinople, he just sends him out to possibly get killed. I loathe him! Nazira goes with Radu, so there was a whole sh•t show over there.

Lada goes through all kinds of hell. She even saw her mom which was beyond crazy train!

There are those that are killed of course and I wish they weren't but it is what it is.

Then Lada gets her throne and she's not all that happy with the way things have been going. I love her so much. She's bloody, brutal, but she takes up for those that need to be taken up for.

You better rock it in the next book Lada and not let anyone kill you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She had done what was necessary. She watched as each body was removed. She would mark their passing, and acknowledge their unwilling sacrifice. Because with each body they drew closer to her goal. She clutched her locket so tightly that her fingers ached.

She was a dragon. She was a prince. She was the only hope Wallachia had of ever prospering.

And she would do whatever it took to get there.

Some court people thought they could tell her what she needed to do. Wellllllll, that didn't work out too good for them in the above excerpt =)

To Radu, my brother,

I do not acknowledge your new title, nor Mehmed's. Tell the lying coward I send no congratulations. He sent none to me when I took my throne in spite of him.

You did not choose right.

Tell Mehmed Wallachia is mine.

With all defiance,
Lada Dracul, Prince of Wallachia

Take that b•tches!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Simona B.
898 reviews3,009 followers
June 17, 2017
The daughter of Wallachia wants her knife back.

•Last year, I adored And I Darken. I think its publication was a true event; I don’t know of any other YA historical/fantasy series or standalones that can be said to get close to what And I Darken presented its readers with. Kiersten White had clearly meant her story to stand out as unique, and she succeeded gloriously. Just the fact that her heroine didn’t put love above anything else was impossibly refreshing; the two male protagonists were so faceted and fleshed-out, I sometimes wondered at their not bursting out of the two-dimensional page; and the moral greyness of all three of them, paired up with the harshness and the violence of the world they moved in, made me think often of the YA label as a fence this novel sat on rather than respected.
In few words, I loved it all. And I would have been satisfied with Kiersten White just confirming all the work she had done in that book, even without any real improvement. Meaning: I am a fool. Because she improved it.
Oh, what am I saying? She took all the good things she had put in book one, worked some magic, and the level of the whole series skyrocketed. If the third installment is anything akin to these two books, the Conqueror’s Saga is bound to become a favorite of mine.
But I’ve blabbered enough; you’re here for a review, and a review I’ll deliver.

•The book follows two plotlines, Lada’s and Radu’s, each of them either struggling with their demons, fighting for their dreams, and sometimes both at once. Lada’s narrative is less rich and paradoxically more static (since she is the one mostly on the road) than Radu’s, and for me it was also slightly less engaging, but her characterization never stumbles, ad it develops in a direction that is as frightening as, to YA readers used to ponies and rainbows, it is unexpected.
No one is going to be surprised if I say that Lada is ferocious, cruel, determined to the point of viciousness, to the point of stubbornness. What is probably going to make you wrinkle your nose is that I see in her as much steadfastness and commitment as fear. In my eyes, Lada is fundamentally a very scared young person who has understood the only way she can work her way into the world is not to weave it, but to punch and kick and stab it herself, for herself.
“Perhaps she had never stopped being that girl lost in a place where she could never have power.”

White, indeed, in this book added to her characterization a great many nuances strongly linked to Lada’s sexuality and identity as a woman. The truth is that if Lada could, she would be neither, man nor woman: she is honest when she says that “[She has] no wish to be a man,” no matter how uncomfortable her body and sexuality in general can make her, but, on the other hand, “Better to be a soldier than a woman”. Her relationship with Mehmed is masterfully contextualized in this subtext, and I love White for giving their romance a narrative purpose, instead of doing the opposite, as it happens more and more often, and bending every other thing to it. The dagger, too, which she constantly mentions also metaphorically, is a powerful symbol of Lada’s claim to overcome the limits of gender, not to mention more obvious hints like her title –Prince– or her refusal to be dressed up like a doll.
Moreover, her being so viscerally attached to her homeland almost brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes this feeling is concretized in physical elements of the landscape, and those passages stole my breath.
“What if she remembered the fortress wrong? What if she climbed up and the sun did not come out? What if it did, but it felt the same as any other sunrise?
[...] She would climb that peak one day, soon. When it was all hers. She would come back, and she would rebuild the fortress to honor Wallachia.

•My second point about Lada’s plotline concerns a technical aspect. I think it’s meaningful that, when the PoV is hers, the only properly characterized people are women, and men meant to stand for or represent something else. Oana and Daciana, for instance, are hardly recurring presences, but their personalities are perfectly outlined in very few but very skilled strokes. (Daciana, besides, is a stunning female character, and she deserves a whole paragraph only to her praise, but this review is already way too long as it is, so I'll pass.) The same can be said for John Hunyadi (I love you, Hunyadi! I love you!), whom Lada puts in direct contrast and comparison with her late father, to the point that she outright tells him –“I wish you had been my father.” As for her Janissaries, Nicolae is more or less the only one who stands out, if we consider that, after all, Stefan and Petru ; thus, Nicolae stands for the Janissaries. And Bogdan, well, he hardly speaks in the whole book: it’s complimentary to say that he is a puppet. When I noticed his flatness in And I Darken, I considered it a flaw, and a very annoying one at that, but I’ve come to think that if White wanted him fleshed-out, she would have fleshed him out with little effort. I think, now, that his character is so bland because Lada does not see him, just as she doesn’t see who doesn’t interest her: she is too self-centered, too power-driven, too angry with the male half of humanity (her problems would basically be gone if she were a man, but she still would rather choose androgyny) to pay attention to who doesn’t directly serve her ambition (I think Nazira’s observations on her and Mehmed were eerily on-point about this). What she treasures, in her own lucid way, in Bogdan, is his loyalty: the only thing she notices in him is his loyalty. You see how, logically, her PoV is faultless.
It’s astonishing how an apparent technical flaw can turn out to be an important piece of a wider picture if we only think about it.
“They were her people. This was her country. This was her throne. She needed no intrigues, no elaborate plans. Wallachia was her mother. After everything she had been through, all she had done in pursuit of the throne, she was left with one thing only: herself.
She was enough.”

•And now, Radu. As I said, his side of the story is more engaging than Lada’s, and surely way more painful too. If I were a tiny bit more dramatic than I am, I’d say it’s excruciating. Let’s settle for devastatingly heart-rending then.
I don’t think I know another YA author who is so skilled at staging the “grey zones” of the world: in White’s mind, nothing is all white or all black, and Radu’s perspective show it perfectly.
“He knew Mehmed would build something truly amazing. He knew that Constantinople needed to fall for Mehmed to hold on to his empire. He knew that Mehmed was the greatest sultan his people had ever known. But, like his love for Mehmed, it was no longer simple.
Radu had seen what it took to be great, and he never again wanted to be part of something bigger than himself.

The irony of Radu’s destiny is that, but for the two only people he would sacrifice everything and anything for, the other significant people in his life are all pretty nice fellows. So who do you think he’ll need to betray and put in danger?

Nazira and Cyprian are exactly like Radu, i. e., too precious for this world. In the relationship between Radu and Nazira is condensed, I think, all the true, untarnished hope White allowed herself to put in this novel, and it’s lovely and reassuring, how their love for each other can warm the bleakest moments of the story. On the other hand, it was a masterstroke on the author part to give Nazira that touch of, if not cruelty, then need for revenge towards the Byzantines—she would have come off as too pristine otherwise.
If Nazira was my present hope, sweet, charming Cyprian is all my future one —.

•A part from Radu’s sorry fate, what is truly unbearable in witness him witnessing Mehmed’s war crimes and the horrors of war, or, as he himself puts is, the “sickness of the soul that turned men into monsters.” Radu’s process of disillusionment is, as I see it, the core of the entire novel: it’s what monopolizes the reader’s attention and what best focuses his sympathy and emotional involvement. And I Darken was Lada’s book, but Now I Rise is unarguably Radu’s, and he takes over the role of true protagonist with no difficulty whatsoever. His moments of doubt, or the ones when he realizes both sides are engaging in unspeakable cruelties and that taking one over the other is not nearly as easy as it was before, are written so as to make them as intimate and raw as possible, as if we were spying into Radu’s conscience through tiny, clandestine holes the author had opened for us, which only adds to our torment, but also to our commitment.
“Whichever side won, neither would triumph.”

•Lastly, in case it still wasn’t clear, I only want to say that I worship Kiersten White and I applaud her not only for her creative work, but also for all the historical research a book like this requires –speaking of which, the only reason this series is labeled as “fantasy” is that it’s a reimagining of actual historical facts, but there’s no magic or anything like that in it.

Now I Rise is, in brief, dark, ugly, harsh, brutal, inflexible, disturbing, unsettling, painful, nuanced, difficult, somewhat repulsive and absolutely unputdownable at once. I don’t know how I am supposed to wait so long until the conclusion and I know I’ll be unhealthily obsessed but this story and, above all, these character until next summer (and possibly after that too, but at least the wait will be over).
If you still haven’t, for your own good, readers, go catch up with this series now. You’ll see you’ll thank me.

*All the quotes are taken from an ARC and are subject to change*
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
December 22, 2018
if you had told me 10 years ago, when i was bored out of my mind in world history class, that i will voluntarily read a series about the ottoman empire and the siege of constantinople (not to mention i would also enjoy myself throughout), i would have said youre crazy. and yet, here i am. lol.

the pacing/layout of this series is so organised and straightforward - i love it! the first book is an intro to the characters and the ascension of mehmed, this one focuses on the siege of various kingdoms, and now im looking forward to seeing how each character will handle their new conquests in the next book. and whilst im finding the historical components more interesting than anticipated, the characters are still why i continue to read these books.

i wasnt as connected with lada and her story in this as much as i was with radu, but man. she is one heck of a character. shes so unapologetically savage. nothing will stop her from getting what she wants and i love how she makes a name for herself in a world made for men. but regardless of her intensity, radu is the one who stole my attention and heart. his characterisation and development is so heartbreaking to read. i feel so much for him and his desire to always be there for the one he loves, regardless of the unrequited feelings. but his conflicting struggle to remain loyal to his sister at the same time is so sad. my poor, sweet boy. :(

i have become so invested in these characters, more than i would have ever imagined, and i cant wait to read the final book to see how the story will end for everyone!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Candace.
1,176 reviews4,333 followers
July 18, 2017
When I finished the first book in 'The Conqueror's Saga', I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next book. I absolutely loved Mehmed, Lada and Radu. I was completely taken in by their unique personalities and the love that they had for one another. Despite the fact that their interests were often conflicting, they managed to remain the closest of friends, and sometimes more.

However, I am sad to say that I didn't get the same pleasure from reading 'Now I Rise'. It was like this book came along and burst my bubble. Any seeds of resentment and anger that were planted in 'And I Darken' came to life in this book. My view of these characters has been irreparably changed...and not for the better.

One of the things that really stood out to me about the first book was the loyalty that this trio seemed to have for one another. Even as their political and religious alliances were in opposition, they always found a way to support one another and place their personal relationships first. Yes, for Mehmed and Lada there were a few betrayals, but I never felt like they were more than superficial, based upon the expectations of their positions. Perhaps I just wanted to believe that, especially where Mehmed was concerned, even though the writing was on the wall.

In contrast to the first book, 'Now I Rise' is full of betrayal and underhanded manipulations. Every one of them turns their back on the people that care for them, some to a greater degree than others. However, none of them were innocent of treachery in this book.

Mehmed, in particular, was a character that I grew to despise. He claims to love Lada, but sells her out at every turn. Honestly, I began to dislike him in the last book as he repeatedly chose to sleep with other women while professing his love for Lada. What a pig! I wanted to make excuses for his behavior then, but I've got my head on straight now. This book helped me come to the realization that he is nothing more than a calculating, self-centered, power-hungry asshat! I hope that Lada kills him.

Although I like Lada more than Mehmed, she is equally obsessed with power and consumed by her blind ambition to reign. I think I probably cut her a little more slack because she is a big time underdog. It is rare to encounter such a strong, badass female lead character, so I really want to like her. Unfortunately, I found her pretty unappealing for much of this book also. She may not have betrayed Mehmed and Radu in the huge way that they both betrayed her, but she did plenty of horrible things in order to assert her power over those she hoped to rule. The brutal tactics she employed didn't sit well with me either, regardless of the fact that I wanted her to achieve her end goal.

Sweet Radu also proved to be a big disappointment this time around. Turning his back on his sister, he willingly submits to Mehmed's every self-serving demand. It was pathetic. He befriends and then betrays close friends in order to further Mehmed's quest to conquer Constantinople. Even as he knows that what he is doing is wrong, he repeatedly chooses to sacrifice others that are innocent in the hopes that he will gain the affection of a man that he knows will never love him the way that he does. I wanted to pity him, but my anger toward his actions never let that emotion set in. In some ways he was every bit as bad as Mehmed, but his duplicity was hidden beneath a façade of presumed harmlessness.

After finishing this book, I feel hollowed out. There is a part of me that still wants to see how things will work out. I'd hate to miss it if Lada ends up killing Mehmed. However, a part of me is just disgusted with all of these characters that I once loved.

I'm not sure that I can bear to watch them destroy one another. It is clear that this isn't going to be a HEA type of story. The damage is done and I suspect that their insatiable hunger for power and unobtainable love will just end up destroying them all. It is fitting, but not necessarily something that I feel like watching play out. I guess I'll see how I'm feeling when the third book is released. For now, I'm going to lick my emotional wounds and give my disappointment plenty of time to sink in.

Check out more of my reviews at www.bookaddicthaven.com
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,743 reviews5,283 followers
July 5, 2018
#1 And I Darken ★★★★★
#2 Now I Rise ★★★★★
#3 Bright We Burn ★★★☆☆

They had nothing better, nowhere else to go. They were loyal to her, and to the hope that perhaps she would find them a place in the world.

FIVE. FREAKING. STARS. Now I Rise is non-stop action, death, war, betrayal, and general bad-assery from Lada. She was built into this amazing, fierce little creature in the first book, but her leadership qualities as well as her dedication to Wallachia really shine in this one.

After leaving Mehmed's side to carve out her own path to the throne of Wallachia, Lada Dracul finds herself without allies, assistance, or power to speak of, besides the loyalty of her men. When she finds that Mehmed has not been entirely honest or beneficial to her cause, Lada's rage encourages her to finally embrace the cruelty of her nature and to seek out the throne via any means necessary.

Meanwhile, Radu helps Mehmed plot to overtake Constantinople, but the waters become muddied when Radu is sent into the city as a spy and begins to second-guess his own motives as well as the sultan's. Will Radu's love for his childhood friend be enough, or must he, too, find his own way?

"Why must I always be a man's servant? If anything, I should be partners with the devil, not his servant."

She's incredible. I honestly just couldn't help but grin at so many of her remarks and witticisms throughout the book, and I love every second of how devoted her men are to her. She so blatantly refuses to be held down by any man. When it is brought to her attention that her ideals for her people are so vastly different from the plans of the men currently in power, rather than adjust her scheming, she just starts taking what she feels is rightfully hers. She is brutal, wicked, at times shameful, but overall... there's just such solid character development. I could wax on for hours about how much I love Lada Dracul.

Much like in the first book, the chapters alternate viewpoints between Lada and her brother, Radu. Let me preface what I'm about to say with one fact: I loved Radu in the bulk of the first book. I thought he was sweet, kind, charismatic, and just an altogether really likable protagonist. After reading this book, however... I can't go into much detail without spoiling massive plot lines, so all I will tell you is that Radu's opinions of Mehmed are so high that it leads him into some very unsavory situations.

That said, Radu is not a bad character. He's infuriating at times, but he's also complex, well-written, dedicated, and loyal to a fault. Despite how much some of his decisions made me want to scream (one of his choices did make me actually slam the book shut), I still loved seeing things through his eyes, and watching him interact with the world around him. I'd love to shout a gigantic "THANK YOU!" to Kiersten for having perfected the task of writing a character that I can absolutely rage at, yet thoroughly love at the same time.

Beyond Lada and Radu themselves, there is such a wonderful and rich cast of characters in this book; we don't meet many new people, but we get to spend a lot more time with some of the lesser characters from And I Darken, and there are some beautiful developments that take place. The politics are still heavy, but not as overwhelming as I found them to be at times in the first book. Kiersten did such a great job of building the world in the first book, that she had to spend very little time expanding upon it in this book, which is a big portion of why I loved this so much more than the first one.

All in all, this book was absolutely incredible and has solidified The Conqueror's Saga as my favorite historical fiction of all time, as well as one of my top series picks. I can't wait for the final release in this series, and to see where Lada and Radu's adventures will bring them in the end. I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, heavy politics, plenty of violence, and enough back-stabbing and conniving to last you for ages.

Thank you so much to Kiersten White and the lovely folks at Delacorte Press for sending me an ARC of this book! My opinions in this review are entirely my own.
Profile Image for Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥.
547 reviews34.7k followers
January 22, 2022
I’m on BookTube now! =)

”Secrets gave everything more power, more potential for devastation and destruction.”

And the secrets in here were huge, which is the reason why the destruction was so big at the ending of this book. >_< Both, figuratively and literally. I swear to read this was ... quite an experience. I mean I already knew that this series is character driven and that the scheming and plotting never ends but I think “Now I Rise” raised this to the next level. If you know me, you know that I love this in my books though so to read this story was perfect for me. XD

What was very interesting was that we don’t only have two different POVs in the second book but also two different storylines that are a little bit delayed. We follow Lada who is in Wallachia and desperately tries to become the prince of her country and we are with Radu as he follows Mehmed’s order to infiltrate Constantinople as his trusted spy. Both siblings struggle with their tasks and with what is needed in order to achieve their goals. And while Lada continues to be the ruthless dragon that we know her to be, Radu’s heart seems to fissure under the constant weight of pressure.

I swear, the Dracul siblings couldn’t be any more different even if they tried but they still have such a strong connection and you can feel it on every page. Just like in the first book the longing in here is real, but whilst the main focus of this yearning was Mehmed in “And I Darken” it becomes something different in here. It turns into a longing for peace, for hope, for belonging and into a longing for knowing your place in the world, an almost palpable yearning for acceptance and better days. But before I write even more I’ll just get to my characters section and explain all my thoughts in there. ;-)

The characters:

You are now entering the lost city of Constantinople. Where people fight bravely against all odds and spoilers. If you don’t want to fight against a spoiler at every turn I strongly recommend you to leave this place. It isn’t too late; you can still make it out in time. ;-)


”Lada smiled. She knew that should not please her, but it did. The prince thought her a big enough threat to warrant an assassin. She still had a chance. Where there was fear, there was power.”

My fierce and reckless dragon child! Gosh, I love Lada. I really dislike a lot of her actions and I disagree with her methods but I still can’t help but love this girl. I think I rarely felt so torn about a fictional character but Lada Dracul is definitely something else. Just like in the first book she knows exactly what she wants and she’s still not afraid of doing whatever is necessary in order to achieve her goals. I just gotta admire her tenaciousness and intransigence. This woman knows the price she’ll pay and yet she’s still not afraid of going through with the bargain. Lada still wants Wallachia more than she wants anything else and I think her and Mehmed are pretty similar when it comes to the craving for a country/city. They would do anything to get it and no price would be too big to pay. Even if it took their souls as payment, they would still readily sacrifice them. Lada is already at the point where she’s crossing a line she’ll never be able to return from and I’m kind of worried what that will do to her in the last book. >_<

”Tonight, she felt the full weight of that loss. The loss of a brother who would have stood at her side and fought this battle of manners and politics for her. The loss of a man who would have laughed at her dress and her hair but also been desperate to be alone so he could undo it all for her.”

”For years Lada had nurtured only hatred for her father, to take away the pain that loving him had left her with. But that night in her tent as she drifted to sleep, she let some of it go. Because she, too, was grateful for who she was. She would not wish any part of herself away.”

”Running and abandoning those who needed her as the weakest, lowest thing possible. Lada would not do that. She could not. Whatever else she was, Lada was nothing like the class who could go on living after turning their backs on those who depended upon them.”

”Without a word she shifted and plunged it into the chest of Toma. The man who had used we to talk about their plans, when he meant himself and a foreign king. The man who had thought that through words and advice, he could take Lada’s soldiers, Lada’s power, Lada’s country without ever fighting her. She watched his face as he died, committing it to memory.”


”Hope was an arrow that never ceased piercing his heart.”

My precious Radu! In my review of “And I Darken” I described him as “beauty with a sting” and that description still holds true, in “Now I Rise” his character changed a lot though. His armour started to crack and to hide his true feelings got more and more difficult. Mehmed asked him to go to Constantinople and to work as his spy and at first Radu is willing to do what he can in order to offer Mehmed Constantinople on a platter. The longer he stays at the city the more he gets involved in the community though. He makes friends and gets attached to Cyprian, Constantine and his family. He suffers alongside them in the siege and he fights against his own people that try to invade the city. Radu starts to question his role and his blind loyalty to Mehmed, but in the end is forced to realize that neither Mehmed nor Constantine deserve his faithfulness. Both of them would have been able to spare their people’s lives, but their pride didn’t allow them to do what would have been the best for their subjects. Radu is so torn by his own actions and the actions of Mehmed and Constantine that he’s breaking under the pressure. At the end of the book he’s a broken man and I was grieving his lost innocence. T_T I really just want my Radu to be happy! Is that too much to ask for?

”What did he hope his future would be? To stand forever at Mehmed’s side, beloved friend, trusted advisor? He had told Nazira it would be enough. It would never be enough.”

”Radu did not know which filled him with more despair – that everyone had heart this rumor except him, or that the mere suggestion of Mehmed loving women and men was seen as evil. His feelings for Mehmed had never felt evil or wicked. They had been the truest of his life, bordering on holy. To hear his love so casually profaned made him sick to his stomach.”

”Again you have never met my sister. She responded to our torments by getting harder, crueler, further away. It made her stronger, but it was breaking me. So when Mehmed – the sultan – offered me kindness, it was like someone had offered me the sun in the midst of the longest, coldest winter of my life.”

”Where was his heart? Where was his loyalty?”

”Radu had been wrong. There were no good men in this city.
And there were no good men outside of it, either.”

The relationships & ships:

Lada & Mehmed:

Mehmed moved from her lips to her neck, his hands in her hair. “When you left, you took my hear twith you. Kill me, Lada,”he said, with so much longing she could not keep her own hands off him.

Okay, we legit only got one scene between those two and their sexy time ended rather abruptly when Lada found out that Mehmed could have supported her but didn’t because his own goals were once again more important than Lada’s. I honestly don’t blame Lada for leaving his tent in haste and hating him with a fierce passion. It’s not all hate though and I feel kind of sorry for her because she truly loves him but she can’t get out of her own skin. Those two are the epitome of star-crossed lovers and however their story will end. It won’t end well. >_<

”You could have trusted me and given me those forces instead. Were there ever any troops? Did you ever mean to help me?”
“I am helping you! You are destined for bigger things! With me.” He stepped toward her and she put her hands up.

”She closed her eyes, because she had worked so hard not to think of it. But as soon as she allowed the memories back in, she wanted to kill him. And she wanted to be with him again.
She did not know which impulse was stronger.”

Lada & Radu:

”I ask only what he is willing to do. Nothing more.”
“Then I do know him better, you fool. Radu would do anything for you.”
Mehmed looked away, a dark flush spreading across his cheeks.
“You know...” Lada’s eyes narrowed to thin slits, her fists clenched so tightly they ached. “You know that he is in love with you.”

I love Lada for hating Mehmed because of Radu! *lol* I blame it all on the Slytherin sleeping peacefully inside of me. ;-P But seriously, their sibling relationship is one of the best things about this series. Because they are true siblings in every sense of the word. I hate that Mehmed is still standing between them and I hope that one day they’ll realize that their relationship is more important than any man. Even if it’s the sultan! I really hope they’ll make amends once they meet each other and the Slytherin in me hopes that they’ll both tell Mehmed to go to hell! *lol* I can dream, right?! I guess if it wouldn’t have been for Mehmed their petty rivalry from their childhood would have already been a distant memory, but since they are still fighting for the attention of the same man they aren’t where they are supposed to be. At least not sibling relationship wise. I just hope they won’t realize their mistakes too late.

”Where was he? Was he safe? Of all the things she held against Mehmed, jeopardizing Radu’s safety was the greatest. If Radu was hurt, she would never forgive Mehmed. Radu was not an acceptable sacrifice, not for any city.”

Radu & Cyprian:

”Be careful,” Cyprian said, running a finger as soft as a whisper along Radu’s palm. “We need these hands.” Cyprian looked up and Radu found himself unable to bear the intensity of his gaze. Cyprian released his hands, laughing awkwardly. “We need all the hands we can get.”
“Yes,” Radu murmured, still feeling Cyprian’s finger tracing his palm.

Now that ... oh my! Where do I even start?! Radu has got to be one of the most unfortunate book characters I ever came across. This boy has absolutely no luck when it comes to love. At first he fell for Mehmed who only uses him and then he falls for Cyprian whom he betrayed for Mehmed. I can’t with this ship! Honestly! Cyprian and Radu were such a lovely ship and slow burn but ARGH did it kill me to know that Radu was betraying Cyprian every step of the way. It killed Radu too. Obviously! Truth be told, Cyprian is too precious for this world. The mere fact he agreed to protect Nazira and to take care of her even though he was fully aware that Radu betrayed him and was responsible for the death of Constantine... I have no words! Cyprian is an angel! <333 And I really, really hope that he will find forgiveness for Radu in the next book because Radu needs someone like him in his life. But still, the betrayal!!! T_T GAH! Why is their relationship so doomed?!

”I feared for your safety.” Radu embraced Cyprian again, both because it was warm and comforting against the weariness of this long night, and because it was the only way he could hide how touched and sad he was that Cyprian’s first fear had been for Radu’s traitorous life.

”He will not kill me,” Radu repeated, waiting for Cyprian to understand. The foundation in Cyprian’s eyes crumbled like the walls around them.
Cyprian stumbled back, shaking his head. “All this time,” he whispered.

Radu & Nazira:

Radu drew her close. “You know I will make certain you are taken care of. No matter what.”
Nazira laughed sadly against his chest. “There you go again, assuming I am worried for myself. You never account for others loving you for you, Radu, rather than what you can do for them. It is my greatest prayer that someday you will know enough of love to recognize when it is freely given.”

Those two! They might only have a fictitious marriage but their friendship and their affection for each other is true and real. I love how deeply they care about each other and how they want each other to be happy! Radu is always watching out for Nazira and tries his best to keep her safe and Nazira has his back and tells him the things he needs to hear. They work so well together and even though their marriage is fake I still think they have a truly beautiful relationship. Nazira is such a precious character as well and I love her so much!! <333 Everyone should have a Nazira in their life. She’s such a nourishing, kind and caring character. XD I love her!

“You have found love.”
“Yes. With someone who could return it. But you refuse to let go of this festering love for a man who is incapable of loving you.”
Radu blinked back tears. “Do I not deserve love?”
She put her hand on Radu’s cheek. “Sweet Radu, you deserve the greatest love the world has ever seen. I simply do not think Mehmed is capable of loving anyone the way you love him.”

”When I am with Fatima, what I feel is pure and good. I cannot imagine a god who hates anything that is love, any way we find to take tender care of each other. I want you to find that same love, and I never want you to hate yourself for any love that is in you.”

”You almost make me believe in fate, for how unfortunate yours is.”

Radu & Mehmed:

”I am glad you are here,” Mehmed said.
Radu smiled bitterly. “That makes one of us.”

I hate Mehmed so much for leading Radu on! I guess some part of me always knew that Mehmed was aware of Radu’s feelings for him but to actually get solid proof! To hear that Radu was just the means to an end he used in order to get Constantinople. ARGH! He used and abused Radu’s love and trust and I can’t with Mehmed anymore! Such a foul move! He knew Radu would do everything for him because he loves him and he shamelessly used that love to his advantage. How vile of a creature can you be? Honestly, at this point I just want Mehmed out of the picture so that Radu can finally get the love he deserves. I’m afraid as long as Mehmed is alive Radu will always return to him though. And IT. KILLS. ME.!!! Radu needs to be free of this man but he’s always drawn to him like a moth to a flame. >_< I have no idea how the last book will end but I hope it will end with a happy Radu.

”I thought this would feel different,” Mehmed said, melancholy shaping his words like a song. He leaned against Radu, finally giving him the contact he had craved for so long.
“So did I,” Radu whispered.

”The ambassador, you mean? He quite liked you. I could see it at Edirne.”
Radu realized with a sickening lurch of his stomach that Mehmed was dancing around a question, trying to determine whether or not Radu cared for Cyprian in the same way. Which meant that Mehmed knew Radu had the feelings for men that he was supposed to have for women.
Which meant Mehmed could not possibly be unaware of the feelings Radu had nurtured for him all these years. Shame welled up in him, but a new feeling came, too. Radu felt ... used.”

Lada & Hunyadi:

”Hunyadi’s love and trust was a valuable thing; it meant more to Lada than she had thought possible. But he could not get her the throne. And she did not feel the pull of Constantinople that all the men in her life seemed to. Hunyadi, she cared about. Constantinople was only a city.
Wallachia, though. Wallachia was everything.”

I never expected Hunyadi to become some sort of father figure for Lada but it actually happened and I really liked their relationship. It’s a shame Hunyadi died because he was one of the few people that saw Lada’s true self and accepted her the way she is. She would have needed him to stay at her side for a longer time, but unfortunately he died because of Mehmed’s war strategies. I think with Hunyadi’s guidance she would have never come to the point she is at now, but his influence on her is gone and without it I’m kind of worried of what will become of Lada. >_<

”That is how we are alike. We saw everything that was not ours, and we hungered. Do not lose that hunger. You will always have to fight for everything. Even when you already have it, you will have to keep fighting to maintain it. You will have to be more ruthless, more brutal, more everything. Any weakness will undo everything you have accomplished. They will see any crack as evidence that they were right that a woman cannot do what you do.”


I enjoyed the second book at least as much as I enjoyed the first one. Maybe even more because the pacing felt a little bit faster than in “And I Darken”. It was interesting to see how the characters developed and how they grew. The character arc of Radu and Lada... chef’s kiss! Even though I suffered with them I still love how Kiersten White managed to let them grow. This said: If you already liked the first book I’m sure you’ll love this one as well! XD


I finally finished this book!!! Which I started in August!!
OMG!!! T_T
I fell into the worst reading slump ever during summer and yeah... now I finally managed to read it for real. XD

This said Radu is my precious son but I still feel like I want to shake him!! AHADSKFASDFJASKDFJSDAFKADSFKJ! I love Lada and I kinda hate her too. *lol*
And Mehmed... ARGH!!! I really dislike Mehmed. >_<
So yeah, my feelings are all over the place and I need to sort them.
Full RTC soon once I got through the huge mess that are my feelings right now. XD

I’m super late with this because I said I would read “Now I Rise” when I did ”My August TBR” and now it’s already August 30th.
But you know what they say: Better late than never! ;-P

So yeah, I’ll start to read “Now I Rise” today and I think we can all agree that it’s still August, right? *lol*

I can’t wait to meet Lada, Radu and Mehmed again and I’m very curious if Radu will be happy in this book! I really hope he will, but I’m not all too sure so I’m going to read it in order to find out. Cross your fingers for Radu and me! XD
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews14k followers
December 16, 2017
4.5 stars

This series continues to amaze me just because of its depth and scope. For a while I thought this book was just boring politics, but then I realized that it continues to play with the themes of identity and religion/culture. But in this book, it also questions loyalty and morality and it’s just??? so good????? I don’t want this to sound like I’m shitting on other YA books but this is seriously so thought-provoking and mature (not in its content, really, just that it tackles so many themes and creates such depth of characters) that I can’t believe more people don’t talk about it. The way that it tackles feelings of belonging and religion and loyalty are so impactful and strangely relatable even though this takes place 600 years ago. it’s just absolutely fascinating.

The biggest thing I admire about these books is how much they read like character studies. Lada and Radu are genuinely two of the most interesting characters in YA right now, in my opinion. AND PPL ARE SLEEPING ON IT!!! I cannot emphasize how much I adore Lada as a character. She is ruthless and doesn’t care about others’ opinions of her and does what she think is best for her and is so self-motivated and self-confident, AND YET there’s still this vulnerable and human side to her that craves validation and it makes her so real. And this passion and feeling isn’t even driven by romantic feelings—it’s about duty and feminism and family and morality and IT’S JUST SO GOOD SHE’S SUCH AN INTRICATE AND WELL-CRAFTED CHARACTER. Nothing about her is glossed over. She has periods, she has casual sex, she kills people who betray her, she cries, she is generous. I’m so impressed at the quality of her character.
And likewise for Radu. I just……. he’s incredible. The complete opposite of Lada. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he’s outwardly passionate and intelligent and emotional, but there’s a darker, melancholy side to him and his coming to terms with religion and feeling in-between cultures and his sexuality and his feelings of estrangement from his family. I was genuinely crying by the end of this book when he was having to justify being in war and feeling torn between the two cultures and not being able to escape with blood on his hands. i just want to hug him and wrap him in blankets.
And the two of these characters together in one book? As brother and sister? Working together? I’m hooked on every page. Even though they are separated throughout this entire book, I couldn’t choose whose POV was my favorite and I never wished they were together just so that the plot would be more interesting. It carried its own weight magnificently. The machinations of their brains drive the story despite their being apart and in this book, the angst and the tension continues to build. It’s addicting.

One of my only complaints is that it’s so hard to keep characters, nations, and events straight in this book. I don’t know much about Ottoman or European history, and not much is given explanation-wise. I mean, obviously there’s tension between Muslims and Christians, but I feel like White should have used the opportunity to make this more comprehensible by adding information about the countries and basic history that we should know, because I seriously always forget who’s fighting who and why and who is avenging who and why they died and why does Mehmed want to capture Constantinople and was Constantinople a real place and are these descriptions historically accurate? It pulled me out of the story to be constantly questioning what was happening. Is Constantinople in Turkey? If so, why are they fighting with the Ottomans? Why are there so many Italians? Is it in Italy? Do I have to google 15th century European geography just to understand this book? (Yes.) ((Also, googling Constantinople spoils the war in this book soooo))

[side note: the entire problem stated above could probably be solved with a bigger/better map]

One more thing that I think would have made this book stronger would have been the addition of Mehmed’s POV. I know the book is centralized on the Wallachian siblings for a reason and it would have been 100+ pages longer with the added perspective, but everyone is split up and I think it works, but knowing what’s going on with the Ottomans would round out the story and help the readers reason with how they should feel about Mehmed, because he’s in a very grey area in this book. He’s the link between the two siblings, a romantic love interest, and the leader of a powerful empire, but for the majority of this book, i wasn’t sure if i was supposed to be rooting for him or not.

This is such a slow-burning but strong series. I highly, highly recommend it. It contains some of the most dynamic, fleshed-out characters I’ve ever read in YA, on the level of Cassie Clare & Maggie Stiefvater. Don’t let the slowness of the plot and thickness of the books deceive you.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,837 followers
August 23, 2017

Fricken hell, someone hold me, I've felt like my heart was in my throat for the last 5 chapters and now I'm going to continue the rest of my life like this

thanks for that keirsten white, i hope you're proud of yourself

4.5 stars (and im not promising any review go away and leave me to mourn my existence)


attempt #2:

hoping this time ill be able to get into it

Buddy read with mah big sis, Jia


oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh x infinity

Buddy read with my girls, Jia, Em, Tova, & Emi
757 reviews2,349 followers
August 4, 2018
reading this book felt like a tedious chore.

literally nothing happens in this book and 1.5 stars only for Cyprian, Radu, Nazira and Fatima. everything and everyone else can choke.

I'm expecting this to be wayyyyy more better than AID and if it's not I'm going to fight this book and beat it UP.

Buddy read with a hard mango
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.8k followers
December 22, 2018

“Hatred makes monsters of us all.”

Friends, I’ll be honest with you, I have been dreading writing this review. I don’t know what’s wrong with me or my reading tastes, but this series just isn’t the series for me. So many of my friends love this series more than anything and you should check out their reviews: Chaima (Muslim ownvoices), Elise, and Emily! But, sadly, I’m calling it quits and I’m not reading the third book. And if you want my honest opinion? Read The Traitor Baru Cormorant, because it’s a better version of (Radu’s storyline especially) this story.

I didn’t hate this book by any means, it’s just really a 2.5 star, middle of the road book for me. And I’m going to try to keep this review short, because I completely recognize that this series just doesn’t work for me! But this is a historical reimagining, starring two children during the fall of Constantinople, but one of those children is a genderbent Vlad the Impaler.

“The world will destroy her in the end. Too much spark leads to explosions. But your sister will destroy as much as she can before she goes out. She will go down in flames and blood.”

Lada is my favorite. She’s cutthroat, ruthless, and such a wonderful character to read about. She, to me, is the shining star of this book. Radu, is alright. I enjoyed his storyline in this book, but again, it was so reminiscent of The Traitor Baru Cormorant, but just done not as well.

I’ll be honest with you, and this might be a tiny bit spoilery so don’t read any further if you want to go into this tale completely unaware of anything, but I hate love triangles where both siblings like the same person. Maybe it is because I’m so close to my brother, and would never do that to him, but it just makes for a truly painful reading experience. And the character in the middle of it? I hate them with a fiery passion already.

But what I loved is Kiersten White’s writing. Every book I pick up by the author, blows me away with one-liner after one-liner. Such a beautiful and lyrical writing style, and I gobble it up every book. And it makes me even more excited to pick up Slayer.

“Perhaps she had never stopped being that girl lost in a place where she could never have power.”

Overall, I think most people would enjoy this series. Hell, I think most people do enjoy this series. And there really are so many good themes and a lot of representation. So, for sure take my review with a grain of salt. And, again, make sure you check out the reviews of the people I linked in the top paragraph. This series just isn’t for me, and that’s okay. Mehmed is legit the worst character in the history of YA. But Nazira and Fatima are worthy of five stars, though.

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Profile Image for Bibi.
1,288 reviews3,232 followers
July 9, 2021
Second time reading (in preparation for Bright We Burn) and it's even better this time, especially that final showdown between Lada and the Danesti Boyar nobility. So deliciously devious.
Lada is a complete badass and most definitely my all time fave heroine and if you like strategic political warfare, this series will blow your mind.
Profile Image for Tweebs♥️ .
184 reviews836 followers
January 15, 2018
{Types on Google}

how do I explain to my family and friends that this book is the love of my life?

Yeah, review still coming :p


reasons why i should never be trusted

✓ this book arrived so quickly like i didn't even blink yet and it was here.....right in my hands
✓ when i opened the box though that's when i realized that life will never let you just.......be
✓ first of all, i ordered the wrong cover
✓ trust me for once my eyesight is not the problem
✓ the problem lies with the fact that i'm an impatient human being who just wanted their hands on this book because WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT ENDING IN THE PREVIOUS BOOK ???!!!??
✓ second of all, it's not even the same size as "and i darken"
✓ like i put it alongside "and i darken" and wow it looked like my copy gave birth
Now I Rise? How about, Now I Birth
✓ i honestly held a family meeting and discussed how one of my siblings needs to watch me order books because what the fuck
✓ seriously what the fuck
✓ learn from my mistakes and never order right after finishing a book
✓ whatever.....it's the inside that matters.
✓ maybe "the smaller it is, the bigger the impact??"
✓ who knows, friends, who knows ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Profile Image for Jiana.
296 reviews823 followers
August 23, 2017
oh my God oh my God oh my GoD ohmygodohmygod OH MY GOD SOMEONE HOLD ME I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH


Update 12/08/2017 : I finally have this beauty in my hands and so it's time to read it!!!

Actual buddy read (more like forced her) with my little sister Maymay.


I'm impatiently waiting for my copy to arrive so I finally read this beauty. It's one of my 2017 anticipated reads so I really hope it's as good (or even better!) as And I Darken.

Buddy reading with my love

and... um, her too... yeah...
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,612 reviews10.7k followers
October 7, 2022
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Now I Rise was book #2 for my TBR-Haul Project, which I discuss in detail in my review for the first book in this trilogy, And I Darken.

After completing that 1st-book, I knew I had to continue on ASAP. This is not the type of story you can walk away from.

I became fairly obsessed with the characters in the first book, but now I am properly obsessed.

I'm loving the vibes I am getting from Lada. Her self-proclaimed dragon-status is so freaking apt. She's serving Red Wedding realness, that's for sure.

Radu, as well, has captured my heart. He's such a sweet baby bird, underestimated by many, who I want to protect with every fiber of my being.

As a second book, this was one of the best I have ever read as far as continuing to expand the world and never-ceasing tension found therein.

I don't want to go into the plot too much as it may spoil the previous book. However, I will mention that after the conclusion of the first book, our three main actors, Lada, Radu and Mehmed, all find themselves in different places, pursuing their own goals.

I have read other books where part of the magic is having characters together. If there are ever times in the narrative where they are all apart, it doesn't seem to work as well.

That is absolutely not the case here. I loved watching these characters move out on their own and continue to grow. Lada and Radu, though raised together, are on such separate trajectories; they want completely different things, but if you think about it, for the same reasons.

It's such an interesting dynamic between the siblings.

This setting as well, with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire as a back-drop, is absolutely fascinating. I'm not sure how historically accurate it is, but from what I have read, it sounds like the author really did her research and tried to handle it with the upmost care.

It was a super refreshing, historical, real-world setting that made everything happening feel that much more intense and believable.

If you enjoy stories with a rich historical setting, a ton of political machinations and brutal, heart-rending characters, you have to pick up this series. It may be backlist, but it is very much worth your time.

I am so excited to see how this all wraps up!!!
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews1,014 followers
September 15, 2018
“No one will be more brutal than me. No one will be more ruthless. And I will never stop fighting.”

And true to its word this book is more brutal, more ruthless, and stakes were never this high before. Reading And I Darken was not an easy experience for me, but Now I Rise doubles it in intensity and heartbreak. When you have to chose between people you love and right and wrong, things get very messy. There’s no white or black, everything’s gray and painful.

Once again Kiersten White immerses us into the history Ottoman Empire and she does it with style. She lets us observe the events without intervening, without imposing her opinion on readers, but simply letting us choose what side we’d prefer. I am not very good with history, but this book (and the previous one) made we want to know more about this period of time, to learn about real historical figures who are main characters in this series. Granted, the author is more frivolous with historical events in book 2 than she was in book 1, but still you won’t miss out on major events and dates, which author describes with diligence. But no, all of it is secondary and unimportant compared to characters. They are the soul, they are what make history come off the pages and breathe. We will never know what real Lada (Vlad), Radu or Mehmed thought, how close or distant they were to each other, but reading Kiersten White’s version of these people made we believe this is exactly how they were in real life, how they thought and lived. It’s not about truth or lies, it’s about a soul.

In And I Darken Lada, doubtless, was the star of the book. A fierce girl who wanted to go home and make everything better. Lada was brutal but also naïve and that made her so human, so vulnerable. In this book… I don’t know what happened to Lada, but she became almost unbearable. Her obsession with Wallachia bordered on madness and foolishness. She was like a broken record player stuck at the same note in a song. Maybe it’s how things should be and Lada’s slowly turning into a ruthless monster is what it is suppose to be, but my heart hurt no mater what, because I got attached to these characters, and it’s still hard to accept the new Lada who betrays friends, kills children and spares no one if they don’t serve her purpose. She doesn’t fight her inner demons any longer, she embraces them and her conscience is barely bothered with her cruelty. Lada still doubts and regrets things, but there’s getting less and less things to regret for her.

Radu, on the other hand, is a star of this book. His struggles were so real, so humane, so heartbreaking I wanted to cry. In this part he finds himself in the situation when friends become strangers and enemies become friends. He no longer knows what is right or wrong, but he still fights for truth, for clarity. He doesn’t want to embrace his dark side, he struggles with his inner demons. And I loved Radu for it, because he reminded me of myself and, doubtless, many other people who ever found themselves in a situation when they wanted to do the right thing but didn’t know how. Radu has a phenomenal character development in this book. Plus, I really loved that finally Radu met someone deserving him, unlike Mehmed whom Radu always loved but who would never love him back. Radu deserves all the happiness in the world.

Mehmed… is still Mehmed, meaning that I am still torn about his character. He seems different when he’s with Radu or Lada, but his actions and deeds show us his sly, ruthless side. He seems like two different persons, but as we see Mehmed only from the siblings’ points of view it’s understandable they are idealizing him, because they love him, and he loves them too, it shows in his actions when he’s with them. But again, betrayal is one of the main threads that goes through this book, and anyone can betray a person they love, because of their ambition. By the way, I need to underline that Mehmed and Lada are very much alike: they are both moved by their ambitions, Radu, on the other hand, is moved by loyalty and love and morale, which makes him the purest of them all.

Of course, I cannot not mention my favorite topic: siblings relationship. Lada and Radu do not meet in this book. Not once. But they think about each other a lot. They are a balanced pair: Radu is light, Lada is dark, and even miles away from each other they think what Lada or Radu would do in that or this situation. It helps them to do something less ruthless (in the case of Lada), or embrace oneself for something ruthless (in the case of Radu). It breaks my heart thinking that their story would not end well, and there’s a possibility when one of them would have to kill the other. See, this is why this series is so hard to read, because even when you love someone you still might betray them. Brutal from the capital B.

Kiersten's writing is superb as ever, plus I absolutely adored politics and intrigues and the way she inserted religion in this book. It played a great role in book 1 as well, but in this one the game is upped and religion has taken the front seat. We all know that people were ready to do monstrous things because God "said" them to do it. But everything was always about ambition and power, and religion was and is a great instrument to level and manipulate opponents. Both Islam and Christianity call the other infidels, but in reality there’s no such thing - only fighting for superiority. And Radu is in the center of that fight, and he sees what righteousness can do to good people, turning them into monsters. There's no good people on this side of the wall, as there's no good people on the other side, as well.

>> You haven't yet started The Conqueror's Saga? You are missing a lot on something deliciously vicious. This trilogy is not your typical YA; it's mature, it's dark, it's perfect. You want the history of 15th century Eastern Europe and Ottoman Empire? You want to witness the fall of Constantinople? You want siblings relationship? You want Dracula's ascension? Be the witness of wheels of history turning before your eyes. I promise, you won't regret it.
“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge.
Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”

*All quotes in this review are taken form ARC and can be subjected to change*
Profile Image for destini.
239 reviews501 followers
June 30, 2017
"i don't like lada"

"she's too violent"

"what happened to her compassion"

"she's chang–"

this book was bomb and lada s l a y e d my entire existence.
She was a dragon. She was a prince. She was the only hope Wallachia had of ever prospering.
And she would do whatever it took to get there.

she is truly a fearsome thing to behold. so often in novels we get characters that will say they would do anything to accomplish their goals but stop just shy or the author events some miraculous loophole that gives the character exactly what they want while keeping their morality and the reader's delicate sensibilities intact. if that's what you like then i would steer clear of this series.

this is what makes lada such a powerhouse and absolute pleasure to read about. she's makes the hard decisions, she follows through with her threats, and shits on your delicate sensibilities, if you even have them after you've finished book 1.
Radu had been wrong. There were no good men in this city.
And there were no good men outside of it, either.

now, my precious cinnamon roll radu was a pleasant surprise. kierstan white lit a fire under the ass that is radu's character development. he still has a ways to go but i was shocked at how much i enjoyed his chapters. i suppose it's kind of sad that his innocence and naïveté has been lost but i was also strangely proud that he was seeing the world for what it was.

the writing was really enjoyable and was able to contribute greatly to the world-building while also allowing the reader to feel connected to the characters. like book 1, it's written in 3rd person, which is great for rich description but usually lacks in character/reader connection. kierstan white balances this perfectly, which is kinda a bitch when i'm here s t r u g g l i n g to keep! it! together!

also, it's kind of daunting going into a sequel like this without rereading book 1 but i read And I Darken as soon as it came out last year (???) and didn't brush up before starting Now I Rise and while i have no doubt it would help if you did some catching up, i didn't find it absolutely necessary. and this is coming from someone who has the memory retention of a birb.

i'm glad with the progression of the storyline, overall. did it kinda feel like a bridge book? eh, maybe a little. we don't end on a cliffhanger, per se, but Now I Rise ends clearly setting up for book 3.

and that ending... lada's response *kisses fingers like a chef* i lived for it

(and no autocorrect, it's not LADY it's lada DRAGON)
The woman nodded, then dipped her head in a bow. "We owe you everything."
Lada smiled. "Do not forget it. I promise I will not.
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,254 followers
August 30, 2017
The best YA historical fiction series in quite some time. This is one of those series that is so good, you don't want to risk giving any spoilers because it's just that good. The concept alone should be enough to sell the series: An alternate history with Vlad the Impaler as a girl. And if you haven't heard of Vlad the Impaler - he had a reputation for cruelty throughout Europe and took pleasure in torturing and killing his enemies with his most preferred method being impalement. He was also the inspiration for Dracula. Sold yet?

The first book follows Lada starting from her birth. Radu is born a year later. And we follow them as they are sent to be raised in the Ottoman courts. They meet Mehmed and all become huge parts of each other's lives. This one is all about Lada trying to retake Wallachia and the fall of Constantinople. It is a clear retelling of actual events and is so fascinating.

This book is every bit as brutal and dark as the first book. The setting is outstanding, vivid, and so easy to visualize. It is beautifully written. I began to really appreciate Nazira's connection with Radu. It's a very sweet dynamic and shows how much they truly care about each other. It's hard to not feel sympathy and anger both over the unrequited romance situation. Lada has become even more badass - is that even possible? Apparently because she's cold-blooded and vicious. To be honest, I was loving every second of it.

The romance gets a bit on the annoying side at times, but it's far less present in this book than the first. I think it's there to spark emotions in the characters to really make them go there when it comes to being angry or hurt and doing drastic actions.

There is more character development here, especially for Radu. Politics and religion play a large part in the events. I enjoyed the different opinions on the taking of Constantinople regarding religion. It is discussed in a non-offensive way and is rather enlightening.

I do miss the characters being together. There was something so special in the first book regarding Lada and Radu's sibling relationship. Don't get me wrong..it is still there. But more in the way that Lada recognizes the skills Radu has that she could really use. She realizes she is stronger with her brother by her side. But that won't do her any good with Radu being sent to Constantinople as Mehmed's inside guy.

I really enjoyed where the story went. It remained on the unpredictable side keeping me guessing. The ending picked up the pace a great deal leaving me reeling for book three. It's clear we'll be in for one hell of a ride!

If you haven't started the series yet, do yourself a favor and go get And I Darken now. And if you just haven't read the sequel, what are you waiting on??
Profile Image for Lucy Tonks.
503 reviews741 followers
March 14, 2021
"Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge.
Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you."

I'm scared for the last book in this series.

I enjoyed this book so much more than the first one, but sadly I was in a but of a reading slump while reading it so it took me a while to finish it.

This series is basically a historical retelling the life of Vlad the Impaler, only in this book he was born a girl called Lada. We also follow Lada's younger brother, Radu, who is pretty much the opposite of Lada. While Radu is good at the diplomacy side of things, Lada is really good at killing people.

While in the first book Lada and Radu's paths were pretty much intertwined, in this book both of them took their own journeys. This book is told in dual POV between them and it was interesting to see how both of them dealt with their own problems while also missing the other and thinking constantly about what the other would do in their situations - which coming from Radu was a bit disquieting. Like seriously, he was thinking "What would Lada do?". Lada is the example of what not to do if you don't want to get yourself killed!

For some reason I preferred to read from Radu's POV. I love both him and Lada, but I feel like in this series he is my favourite character. I'm a bit annoyed with some of the decisions he made in this book, the way he let himself be manipulated. I preferred reading about him and Constantinople and what was happening there, more than I enjoyed reading from Lada's POV about her getting the throne.

Radu and Nazira are my favourite characters in this series. Nazira is not the most present character, but I still loved whatever we got from her point of view. I love Radu. I don't really have a reason, but maybe(?) I feel like I related with him.

I liked Lada, but god she can be so violent sometimes. I don't know why I sound so surprised about that. Vlad the Impaler was a gruesome person, so of course Lada is the same. While Radu tries to get what he wants with diplomacy, Lada uses violence.

I hate Mehmed. I just hate him! He uses everyone and everything to get what he wants! And he is a horrible person. I cannot stand him!

Being Romanian, I know a lot about the history that this book is based on. I know a lot about Vlad the Impaler. That's something we learn in school and I also just had a lesson on it... so I had an idea about how this book was going to end. And I'm not going to lie, knowing what happens in actual history, I'm terrified about the fates of these characters and I also have an idea about how this series will end...

I love the historical aspect in this series. The author does change a lot of things, but there are so many things that I appreciate in this book. Like, Radu being called "Radu the Handsome" is an actual historical fact! In Romanian history that's how he is known!

I loved the plot of this book. I did find it a bit slow at times and I felt kinda bored, but overall it was great. So much action in both Lada and Radu's chapter. But I found it odd that even though they had alternative chapters, Lada's took place a couple of weeks earlier than Radu's. It was so confusing sometimes, but I may be the only one who actually noticed that.

Ok, please no one attack me for saying this, but I was quite annoyed by the people of Constantinople and how religious they were. Before you get mad at me, let me explain. I have nothing against religious people, or religion in general, but seriously, during a war when a soldier is rushing towards you to kill you, do you really start praying instead of defending yourself?! You can pray while fighting, but not instead of fighting! Even Radu (who is religious) was annoyed by them and how they were acting during a freaking war.

Putting that aside, I really liked this book and I hope that I'll manage to pick the third book up asap! I need to know how this series ends and I need to know if my assumptions are right, even though, I hope they are not.
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
595 reviews3,588 followers
October 20, 2018
4.5 stars

"I think if you had been a boy, perhaps you would have been satisfied with what the world offered you. This is how we are alike. We saw everything that was not ours, and we hungered. Do not lose that hunger. You will always have to fight for everything. Even when you already have it, you will have to keep fighting to maintain it. You will have to be more ruthless, more brutal, more everything."

You know what I love about this series? You have no idea how it's going to end. This is, of course, assuming you're not familiar with the history and figures that inspired it. (Even if you are, you have no idea which bits and pieces White is planning to incorporate.)

With most novels, you know the hero is going to save the world/get the girl or boy/smash the corrupt system; it's more the how that pulls you in. But with the Conqueror's Saga, you have no clue. It resembles Game of Thrones in its willingness to take risks. Who will be left in the end? Where will they be? Who will they be?

"She was not a lady. She was a dragon, and this whole country would know it before the end."

Now I Rise is admittedly slower-paced than its predecessor. It takes place right after the events of And I Darken with the Dracul siblings separated in both mind and location: Lada in Wallachia, fighting for her throne, and Radu at Mehmed's side in the Ottoman Empire and later Constantinople as a spy.

There's less political intrigue, and more character study. Although a lot happens in retrospect, it takes place slowly over a number of pages, devoting more time to figuring out who Lada and Radu think they are—self-inspection. And I Rise is evenly split between their POVs and their storyline, while vastly different in goal, parallel each other. They often wonder what the other sibling would do in their situation and act on those perceptions.

"Be careful, little dragon. You and I were meant for battlefields, not royal courts. Do not start fights you have no weapons for."

Both siblings also gradually realize there is more to the enemy. Lada and Hunyadi, who killed her father and older brother, who treats her kindly and sees her as more than a broodmare to pop out sons. Radu and Constantinople, with its ordinary people and emperor and religion. Neither Christianity or Islam are portrayed as evil. I feel that's important to point out. If there's ever a time in modern history where we need to attach a human face to a legion entity, it's now.

As with And I Darken, women play a big part in the narrative. It's not just the Lada; it's Nazira, Lada's nurse, rape survivors... It's a story about celebrating different women as it is penis envy and subverting patriarchy. I don't necessarily agree with Lada's brand of feminism, which still inclines towards acknowledging male identity as power, but I accept it as part of her character. And it is in no way shown to be the sole "right" version.

Next book, please? And if Radu doesn't get a happy ending, I will fling myself off the topmost tower of Hogwarts.

My review of And I Darken
My review of Bright We Burn
Profile Image for may ➹.
494 reviews2,071 followers
August 4, 2018
DNF @ 57%

how does one say........oops

I care about this book about as much as I care about myself, which is not much at all

1.5 stars and a short review to come making fun of this book because that’s the only good feeling I’ll ever have towards this series

// buddy read with batman
Profile Image for April.
146 reviews262 followers
July 4, 2018
Lada don't need no man.🙅🏻‍♀️
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
680 reviews3,951 followers
June 5, 2018

Why is every event in this literally So Incredibly Shocking when it's historical fiction and I literally already wikipedia-spoiled myself

Anyway Radu is my son and I would literally die for him I love him so much AND OH MY GOD THE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. How is it so good Radu's growth is !!!!! god he needs to learn to love himself I'm so emo please son you're doing amazing sweetie

Lada's chapters weren't nearly as good as Radu's except toward the end just because they were a lot of her walking around but I AM SO READY FOR HER TO COME FOR EVERYONE IN BRIGHT WE BURN. BITCH FUCK ME UP

Anyway full review to come when does bright we burn release again im suffering
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,065 reviews1,474 followers
July 20, 2017
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Kiersten White, and the publisher, Delacorte Press, for this opportunity.

This is the second instalment in the much-loved And I Darken series. The book is set primarily in the dual perspectives of Lada and Radu, daughter and son of the renowned Vlad Dragwyla, prince of Wallachia, during the nineteenth century. They spent their childhood used as political bargaining chips and lived as wards to the sultan of bordering lands. Now Lada wants what is rightfully hers. Wallachia.

I adored this book due to Lada's character. She was feisty and fiercesome, stubborn and spirited, troubled and troublesome. She gave a new insight to the historical female, which has so often painted all of its females as wilting roses and distressed damsels. She is the antithesis of this expected role. Much to the horror of many of the males that surround her.

I adored how White allowed Lada to become every bit as bloodthirsty and brutal as her father. I also appreciated how she allowed her brother, Radu, to become every bit as delicate as his sister was expected to be. Both were determination to betray what was expected from their genders and to overcome every obstacle in their opposing rise in strength and notoriety. These stereotypical gender roles were turned on their hand and what resulted were two endearing and authentic individuals, set in a well-written and well-structured satire, exploring dense themes and overcoming many gender and genre defining stereotypes. The additional exploration of Radu's sexuality and the implications it would have in his time and in his position also accounted to make this thoroughly intriguing, enlightening, and thought-provoking reading

My only point of discord with this book was the confusion over places and people, which came from the density of plot and the time between my reading of the two books. This was quickly forgotten however, as I was re-absorbed into this world and all the blood-soaked action and political intrigue entailed.
Profile Image for Silvia .
642 reviews1,428 followers
Shelved as '0-own-tbr-probably-wont'
August 19, 2017
Hi, it is I, currently in a reading slump, who just received the ARC of this book, which one DEFINITELY shouldn't try to read while in a reading slump :)) Also guess who loved book 1 but doesn't remember a single thing about it :))) thank god for recaps online.

THAT COVER. Can I just tape it on the inside of my eyelids? *want want want*
Profile Image for Alana.
685 reviews1,307 followers
July 19, 2017

"No one will be more brutal than me. No one will be more ruthless. And I will never stop fighting"

Happy release day to this light fluffy read that will warm your heart!

Rating: 4.5/5

I received an ARC of this and I can finally post my review now that it's release day :)

In case you couldn't tell guys that is COMPLETE sarcasm. There is nothing light, fluffy, or heartwarming about this book yet it is still AMAZING. Now I Rise is the sequel to And I Darken and let me tell you this book 1. did not disappoint 2. did not drag at times like And I Darken did and 3. crushed my soul into a million pieces for two people and two people only, and those are my precious babies Lada and Radu. From the first page of this book to the very last it is filled with nothing but death, heartache, betrayal, ruthlessness, and of course Lada slaying my entire existence. I would love to know how many hours Kiersten White has poured into research for this book because it clearly shows with how in depth the story goes.

Lada, in Now I Rise, is like no other female character we have ever met before (or probably ever will because let's be realistic it is going to take A LOT for another author to ever top her character). I thought Lada was ruthless in book one but LOL NOPE, not even close. She will slaughter anyone who stands in her way of getting the Wallachian throne. Literally anyone. She faces so much sexism throughout this book but the way the author handles it is top notch and really makes you want to fight right beside Lada for her throne. Some of my very favorite quotes that show Lada rising above the sexism and not letting a man define her power include:

"She knew now that nothing she could do would ever be enough. Unless she could grow a penis, which did not seem likely. Nor particularly desirable."

"Anger and humiliation wash through her. All this time Hyundai had been viewing her as merely a womb. How could she make the world see her as she saw herself?"

It was the same choice she had faced before, the only choice ever given to her; take what little power you can through a man."

"You are no king, and I am no wife. I am a leader and a ruler and I want your support."

"Do not lose that hunger. You will always have to fight for everything. Even when you already have it, you will have to keep fighting to maintain it. You will have to be more ruthless, more brutal, more everything."

And one of personal favorites that shows how Radu views women is:

""You are here so that everyone sees you are my special project. I want the whole city gossiping about how foolish I am, hiring a woman to make the largest canon in the word to try and impress the sultan. I intent to subject us both to ridicule." Her scowl deepened. "Why would you do that?" "So that no one pays any attention until we succeed.""

*QUEUE BEYONCE MUSIC* Who run the world?! GIRLS!

Radu, in this book broke my heart but infuriated me at the same time. I hated how he chose a love interest over family. His undying loyalty to the one person who will never love him back or have any type of public relationship with him used him in ways a person shouldn't be used. I think Radu playing both sides of the field (battle field that is) was integral to the story and to his growth as a character. I hope that in book 3 he gets the happy ending that he deserves with anyone but Mehmed. I'm sure it's pretty apparent from all the updates I posted while reading this that I can't stand Mehmed. Honestly, I'm not even going to write about him because this could easily turn into a 10,000 word review on why I hate Mehmed. So let's just leave it at, I hope book 3 comes around and obliterates everything he's ever loved (besides Lada) and that he dies.

There are a handful of other characters that we learn more about throughout the story but not many new ones. Which definitely helped because sometimes names could get a little bit confusing for me. We get to see more characters who didn't have that big of a part in And I Darken in this book and learn about their backstories which was totally cool. I'm dying for some more of Nazira come book 3, just sayin'.

This book originally came across as intimidating when I first started, so I would definitely recommend brushing up on book one before jumping into this. Also USE THE GLOSSARY IN THE BACK! I didn't realize it was there until the end and it would have been so helpful had I known it was there, stupid me. There seems to be less politics this time around, don't get me wrong it's still there and still SUPER good, but there is a lot more killing going on then anything else. No complaints here. The dual POV makes the book that much easier to devour because Lada and Radu get in some deep shit in this book, switching back and forth between them makes you fly thought it just to make sure everyone is okay.

This book doesn't end on a giant cliffhanger which I loved but it sets us up for book 3 which I am very afraid and excited for. I ONLY HOPE IT ENDS BADLY FOR MEHMED, NOT MY LITTLE BABIES.

All in all, this is my favorite historical fiction saga I've ever read. It has politics, love death, war, and some humor in all the right places. You can't help put love Lada for the dragon she has become throughout the two books, and I CANNOT wait to see what happens in the next installment. I have a feeling A LOT more heart break and suffering has to happen before Lada and Radu will have a somewhat happy ending.
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