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Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it?

Lada's rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won't rest until everyone knows that her country's borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed's peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister's indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before--including her relationships--can Lada truly build the country she wants.

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

416 pages, Paperback

First published July 10, 2018

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About the author

Kiersten White

73 books12.4k 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 2,206 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
July 10, 2018
“Disrupt stability. Petition for gold. Provoke the greatest empire on the face of the earth.” He paused. “This is going to be fun.”

Oh, it was. So much bloody, nasty fun.

I have really loved this series. I mean, why wouldn't I? There's a murderous antiheroine who's definitely more anti than heroine. There's battles and backstabbing and unrequited love. There's alt-history that's - let's face it - a lot more alt than history. There's Vlad the Impaler reimagined as a woman. In other words, this series is almost everything I've always wanted.

I say almost because Kiersten White is publishing literally everything I have always wanted next year: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...

In this book, we pick up right where we left off in Now I Rise. Lada is, unsurprisingly, on a murderous rampage, making many powerful enemies and a few important allies as she goes along. White pushes the limits on how much sympathy we can have for a character who is borderline villain, but I personally adored Lada to the end.
“The empire is coming for us, and I intend to win.”

While I doubt I would have had the same sympathies for the real, male Vlad, I think the author captured Lada's frustrations with the limitations of being a woman really well. She is obviously a very screwed up, disturbed person, and it was impossible for me to not feel sympathy for her. Even when she is at her worst (which is 95% of the time). And I love that, even though she is incredibly strong, she also has moments of weakness and self-doubt that remind us of her underlying humanity.

True to the character of this series, this final installment is action-packed and gory. Tensions between Lada, Radu and Mehmed reach an all-time high, with their affections for one another never far behind their animosity. Such page-turning goodness!

I love that this series positively portrays both a gay romance and Islam. Radu and Cyprian offer some light in an otherwise very dark trilogy, as does the respectful handling of various faiths (or lack of, in Lada's case). We need this warmth to counter the ever-growing pile of bodies and the tension created by the approaching climax.
War made monsters of them all.

Of course, I won't tell you anything that could spoil the ending, but I found it a very satisfying conclusion. White wraps things up just as they should be, in my opinion, with the perfect balance of historical fact and artistic license.

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Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,079 reviews17.2k followers
July 26, 2020
Chaima and I were talking about this again and I remembered how this is the best series conclusion I’ll ever read and that’s just how it is

personally, I feel as if my heart was ripped out of my fucking chest and my life was just changed for the better. I do not have the Words To Convey how much this ending for a series meant to me

here was my lowkey spoilery initial list of what I wanted out of this sequel:
• please let Radu be happy
• you know exactly who I want him to be happy with
• LET NAZIRA REUNITE WITH HER WIFE
• Mehmed dying maybe
• honestly I think Lada's going to die no matter what for historicity if nothing else
• please just let Radu, Nazira, Fatima, and Cyprian be gay in peace. please Kiersten White I'm a nice person
did all of this happen? not necessarily. but did I find this conclusion incredibly satisfying and one of my favorite series conclusions ever? hell yes.

Okay, so basic TL;DR: This book is my second favorite series conclusion I have ever read [after literally my favorite book ever] and nothing can ever beat it and oh my fucking god, I loved this.

This series is political and character driven, which is... such a deep mood for me. This series is about misogyny, about internalized homophobia, about religion, about learning what you deserve in a world that wants you to accept nothing. It is a character and theme study that I just… adore. So much.
Radu had been wrong all this time. He had felt guilty for the way his heart yearned for other men. But it was not his own love that was poisonous and destructive. His love destroyed nothing, hurt no one. Lada loved Wallachia above all else, and this was the result. What Mehmed and Lada did—because of what they set their hearts on with both people and land—was far worse than anything Radu’s love could ever lead him to do. It was an odd sort of thing to take comfort in, but he accepted it.
Nazira was right. His love had no evil in it. He could not say the same for his sister’s.

Radu's characterization has come so far since And I Darken - in Now I Rise, Kiersten White really made me love him, and I just... relate to him so much. I love how well Radu’s sexuality is written. He is so careful about expressing his love for other men, and it’s so realistic not only to the period, but also to my experiences in our current world. Kiersten White is really one of the few not-openly-queer authors I trust most with writing queer characters.
There was something to be said for having his heart broken so many times. Broken things healed thicker and stronger than they were before. Assuming one survived long enough to heal.

And then… there’s Lada. Lada, who I hate and empathize with at the same time. I love how cunning Lada is, how she does everything differently than expected. Every moment of planning she has made me want to scream with joy. And my favorite Lada quote is a spoiler, so I can't put it here, but I think she's one of the best-written antiheroes I've read recently and I really like it?

I really feel like this series went so far past its original sort-of-fucked-up-love-triangle focus. The most important relationships here are predominantly platonic. Lada and Radu. Lada and Nicolae [I’d die for them]. And then there's Radu and Nazira, who I basically ship platonically harder than I have ever shipped anything romantically.
“I am sorry, then.”
“To be right?” Nazira laughed. “It is a heavy burden, always being right. But some of us must bear it.”
“I am grateful you bear it for me, as I am not qualified to carry it myself.”

Speaking of which, I AM GIVING RADU AND NAZIRA THE PARAGRAPH THEY DESERVE. Kiersten White is really out here givin the gays everything they want!! They touched cheeks! They held hands!!!!! They platonically love each other so deeply and it's fucking gorgeous!!!!! They are… literally worth the world to me and I adore them and I’d just die for them. Nazira and Radu invented mlm / wlw solidarity and that's so valid.
Radu put a hand over his heart, wondering if he would feel her death, if he would know. They had been separated for so long. She had looked at him that night in Mehmed’s tent as though faced with a memory, not a man.

Also… listen. Guys. Radu and Lada. Every time Radu and Lada think about each other I want to cry.

But honestly, the most important thing about this whole book was the ending. Because, okay, I have a lot of thoughts, but I don't want to say them, because this book is not even fucking released yet, but also, I have to say them? So please, if you have not read this book, this is the end of the review. Pretend it's the end. Bye.

Nazira had not exaggerated her intentions. She let go of Fatima only when absolutely necessary. Radu leaned back on his cushion, smiling to himself as Nazira tried to navigate eating dinner while keeping hold of Fatima’s hand at all times.

So... the found family ending of this is the best-ever subversion of the bury your gays trope I have ever read in my entire fucking life and I.... legitimately cried. You should have seen me and Chaima, one of my bffs on this hellsite, screaming in the DMs both reading this at the same time. We were such fucking messes and it meant even more to her, as a Muslim queer person, than it did to me, and I just... wow I'm a wreck?

And also... Radu chose people over power. And that was the difference.

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Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,588 reviews153k followers
December 9, 2020
description

She was a dragon.
She was a prince.
She was a woman.
It was the last that scared them most of all.
Lada Dracul has finally earned her prize - she is Prince of Wallachia, her beloved home country.

And as Prince, she has shaken up the country. Crime is practically nonexistent, the old rulers are all dead, and her people are happy for the first time in decades.
I heard she is giving land to anyone. Can you imagine? ...She gives it to those who deserve it. So I hope she never marries. I hope she lives to be a hundred years old, breathing fire and drinking the blood of our enemies.
And she does it all with absolute brutality.

She's never been one to shy away from inflicting pain or devastation and as Prince, she has no pity for anyone who harbors ill will towards Wallachia.
“I know your brother’s past. And I know that he can still find happiness even in the darkest of circumstances, because his faith sustains him. What sustains you?”

“The blood of my enemies.”
And though her methods are efficient, Wallachia is starting to suffer - neighboring countries are trying to encroach from all sides and without Lada's brother, Radu, by her side, she's resorting to crueler and crueler methods to maintaining her rule.

Meanwhile, Radu is experiencing happiness for the first time in his life.

He's found a man, a wonderful man, whom he wants to be with forever.

He's found a family, a truly amazing family, that love him and accept him for who he is.

Only, there's one thing he's starting to realize, no matter how much you run, your real family, your blood family, is never far behind.

Radu and Lada will have to make their toughest decisions yet, ones that have the fate of Wallachia resting on their shoulders.

But without a united front, will the pair of them live long enough?
[I plan] to let you stay here until everyone has forgotten you. Until your only legacy are the lurid woodcuts and terrifying nighttime stories of the Saxons. You will fade into a monster, a myth.
Gahhhhh - what am I supposed to do now that this is over?!

The third (and final) installment of White's Conqueror's Saga really lived up to its name. And whew. Talk about a wonderful ending.

Lada was ruthlessly stunning in this one - every one of her bloody schemes was crazy - and the way she pulled them all off was amazing.

In this round, Lada dealt with death in a new way - her close friends and advisers drop off one by one (in part) due to the harsh techniques of Lada's rule. And that really brought about a new dimension to her character.

Also, Radu's storyline really shone in this round. The way he tried his best to protect his little family and all of the incredible sacrifices he made, wow. Just wow.

And can I get a hear hear for a YA book where the "Gay Character"(TM) is NOT a quirky best friend, a fab-ulous!-hand-swish fashion guru OR just spits out mechanically sassy comments (yougogirlfriend! or Mmmm,honey!)?

I mean, FINALLY! Radu is just as "real" of a character as Lada, and I really want to applaud Kiersten. Hopefully this trend continues - cause Radu really made the book shine.

I will admit, about halfway through the book, I did start to get sick of the war. There's only so many strategy sessions I can handle. But the ending more than made up for the lagging middle.

I loved how White tied up all the bits at the end - it's always a pleasant surprise when such a brutal book has such a neat ending.

I absolutely cannot wait for what Kiersten White writes next!

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Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,609 reviews4,999 followers
March 10, 2022
#1 And I Darken ★★★★★
#2 Now I Rise ★★★★★
#3 Bright We Burn ★★★☆☆

This series has been an incredible journey, and I was both eager and terrified to see how it would end. As many of you already know, I tend to avoid series finales like the plague. They’re almost always my least favorite part of a series, probably because I like very particular types of endings where all the loose ends are tied and everyone has completed their tasks—and these are rarely synonymous with happy, fan-servicing endings, which is what this felt like to me.

She could not sleep in those stone rooms, empty and yet still crowded with the ghosts of all the princes who had come before her.

Lada has been one of my favorite heroines since I first read And I Darken, but she was perhaps my greatest struggle in this installment. You see, Lada has always been vicious, but she’s been clever about it; she’s made a habit of outwitting everyone around her, constantly, and her intentions have always been fair: to pull Wallachia out of the mud and see her people thrive without the shackles put upon them by men like the boyars and Mehmed.

After all, fire and blood and death were nothing to a country led by a dragon.

In this finale, something feels lost in her character arc to me. Gone is the conniving yet brilliant young woman who took from the rich to give to the poor, and in her place is a sloppy warlord who destroys innocents recklessly and stumbles into one trap after another. I understand character development and that sometimes, the characters we love become less than what they were, but I believe with my whole heart that this was the wrong direction to take Lada’s story in.

Someday Radu would not long for a time when he was certain things were terrible but had no idea just how much worse they were about to get.

And then, there’s Radu, who I actually admitted in my Now I Rise review was one of the most infuriating characters I’ve ever met in my life. He makes almost exclusively terrible decisions because of his affections for Mehmed, and he is blind to the entire world around him whenever he is in the sultan’s presence. But, you know what else I mentioned in that review: I liked that about him. I enjoyed the drama he brought to the pages. That was no longer the case by the end of Bright We Burn.

He could not have conversations about his future as though his past were not looped around his neck like a noose, choking him with regret and sorrow.

As we near the end of the story, Radu finally begins to see the error of his ways, yet he doesn’t do anything to fix his mistakes. Instead, he doubles down, and while I won’t spoil the action for you, I will say that the direction he takes shocked me in the most awful way. Much like with Lada, I felt like I was reading an entirely different character from the one I’d grown to know in the first two books.

Radu expected to find his friend angry. Instead, he found Mehmed sitting on a pillow, staring up at the ceiling of the tent with a bemused smile.
“I think she missed us,” he said.

The one thing that remains entirely the same in Bright We Burn is Mehmed, who is still this insufferable, disgusting cretin of a man. I can’t say anything at all about how I feel regarding Mehmed without spoiling the entire ending, but if you’ve read it, feel free to DM me—I have quite a lot of feelings about his story.

He had changed his faith, his life, even his name, but he could not change or escape his sister.

There are a million other things I’d like to fuss about, but they’re all spoilers, so I’ll leave them all be; however, if you’ve read it, there’s a particular incident that occurs with Lada that is intended to be a “twist”, and it not only frustrated me that I predicted it so long ago, but it also positively enraged me with how she handled it. (Again, feel free to DM—lots of rage to get out over this one.)

“It seems to me she has tremendous regard for blood. She simply prefers it spilled on the ground.”

All in all, this wasn’t a horrible book on its own; as you can see, I still thought it was worth a solid 3 stars. That said, it was one of the most disappointing series finales I have ever read, in terms of the direction the story took. At the time that I’m writing this review, however, my opinion is definitely not the common consensus, so if you have enjoyed the series thus far, I do strongly urge you to pick this up and give it a chance.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to my friend Lynette for sending me this ARC!

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for Tweebs♥️ .
184 reviews843 followers
July 23, 2018
Radu laughed. "I still cannot quite believe we all found each other.”
“ I can. You were always ruthless about finding people to love you.”

Well slap me on a grill and call me BBQ




You know what Kiersten White did to my heart?

She buried it, nailed it, crushed it, crucified it, blasted it, murdered it, roasted it, demolished it, and destroyed it. After, she was thoroughly done with my heart; my brain was the next target. It didn’t even stand a chance because I remember I was at work one day and a customer hit me with the “what’s your name again?” question and I said, “Fuck, I forgot.”

Jsdfhjkdfhdsjkfhdskjfhdskjfhdskjfhdskjfhdskjfhdsjfhdfdsjfds

Translation:

Goodbye everybody. I died well pleased.



Bright we burn, made me lose like 35 years off my life. It was bloody, ruthless, gut-wrenching and absolutely beautiful in every single aspect. It made me scream at humans, inanimate objects or just...screaming in general. It made me cry so much like the floor clearly doesn’t need any mopping now like I can see my own reflection. It made me happy, proud, afraid but most importantly, satisfied.

“She was a dragon.
She was a prince.
She was a woman.
It was the last that scared them most of all.”


I erased this review countless times because I’m just in complete awe. It’s over. This is it. I never knew my heart could ever hurt so much. Every time I type up something, it's just never enough. I can't capture what I truly want to say through words. Maybe, just go on YouTube and search for someone laying on the floor surrounded by a puddle of tears if you wanna understand me.

Ugh.

I can't wrap my mind around the fact that it's truly D O N E. There's no more being sucked into this world and being amazed by everything. There's no more putting myself in these characters shoes and being apart of their wonderful yet terrifying journey. There’s no more clutching my chest whenever the plot takes a turn….and by turn, I really meant A TURN. There’s no more sacrificing my sleep and obviously representing that eye bag life. I mean, my eye bags are pretty much designer now….Louis Vuitton got nothing on me.

The point is...

There’s just simply no more.



As you can see, I'm not okay and I don't think I ever want to be. There's a reason why I usually never review a final book of a series. It's very difficult to calm yourself, sit down, gather your thoughts together and type up a review when you could be dealing with other priorities such as sobbing. I have absolutely no idea how to produce a review anymore since I've been kind of MIA on this website for several months. So, yeah I'll give it my best shot.

Enjoy the front row seat to this hot mess :)

Where do I begin???

Oh, this is a spoiler-free review :)

PLOT

► Intense
► Everything was intense.
► It was filled with action, betrayal, tragedy, conflict, romance, incredibly dark, and emotionally gripping.
►Every word, page and chapter will have you…..idk about you but my family didn’t appreciate being grabbed like every 3 seconds. Or witness me hyperventilating which I don’t blame them because I’m overly dramatic. Or having to frequently ask me if I’m alright because I’d look at them like my eyes will pop out of their sockets.
► The plot will clearly drag you left, right and centre.
► It will make your veins explode.
►You’ll experience like 1000 mind blowing plot twists and sadly you will not be prepared for a single one.
►Your heart might be fucked up after this book but look on the bright side, it will be filled with everything you never knew you needed in your life.
► I think this is the part where I mic drop
►*mic drop*
► Idk why I had to announce that.

CHARACTERS


►Fuck you.
►And Fuck you.
►That is all.
►I lied I forgot one more thing.
► FUCK YOU
► Can’t believe I’m saying this but I, Tweebs, emotionally connected to the pomegranate on the cover.
► Let me explain myself before you judge my entire existence.
► These characters sliced me in half just like that pomegranate on the cover.
► Now onto the characters that sliced me in fucking half.

Lada

■ I should hate her
■ She is vicious, absolutely broken, savage and literally will carry out on every single threat. And yes, she’s crazy but once you get a taste of her vulnerability; everything you ever thought of her will disappear. Okay, not really but you’d develop a sense of understanding and sympathy. You will cry for her because she's just........a broken and lost girl who deals with everything in such a different yet cruel way.
■ I love the fact that her character wasn’t afraid to do anything. She doesn't think, she acts. She's so freakin stubborn. She will fight, no matter who you are, if you pose a threat to her accomplishing her goals and ambitions. And yes, she has me shaking in fear and being left in disbelief in like every chapter but hey THAT’S MY CHILD I LOVE HER.

Radu

■ You ever just like someone so much that you bring them up for no reason at all in every conversation because that’s me with Radu.
■ He is my smart little scrumptious cinnamon roll
■ He is the biggest softie who just wants to spread love and kindness everywhere.
■ He faces so many obstacles that plague him yet he always turns toward his faith for guidance. I just....his faith in Islam is so beautiful. So pure. So innocent. It really touches me as a believer of the religion.
■ Lada may appear to look like the most troubled sibling but I feel like Radu is the one. He's troubled by so many things and internalizes it. I'm just so happy that Radu received everything he ever wished for. He's had his own fair share of being on the same "I should hate this character" boat but I just can't stay hating my child.
■ Honestly, someone fetch me tissues. I’m in desperate need of them.

Other Characters

■ We have so many characters and I have so little brain cells left so I’ll sum it up really quickly.
■ I just love how the plot doesn’t just revolve around Lada and Radu. It revolves around everyone. From Mehmed, to Nikolai, to Nazira, to Bogdan, To Fatima, to Cyprian, and many more.
■ You will feel their struggles, their fears, their expectations, and their happiness.
■ These characters are just simply unforgettable.
■ Heck, even the ones you HATE are unforgettable.

WRITING

► Everything in this book is magnificent.
► It makes picking quotes very very VERY difficult
► The devil works hard but Kiersten White works harder
► She has this amazing talent to lure you in with her writing. It’s sticky like syrup. Once you’re caught. That’s it. There’s no going back.
► I just….ugh. Everything was refreshing.
► The storytelling was enthralling.
► Is it possible to remove whatever is left of my heart and give it to Kiersten White?

OTHER THINGS I LOVED

► I loved the politics, history, and finding one's true self.
► I loved the relationships in this book
► I loved the representation of different sexualities within this story and how it was thoroughly explored. I believe, a lot of people will be so freakin excited with the things that occur in this book. Why? BECAUSE I AM.
► I loved the fact that I realized how my religion, Islam, is interpreted by different perspectives. It was very eye-opening to me.
► There's so many things I loved, admired and cherished. I'm incapable of justifying my emotions. I have absolutely no faith in the English language to capture what I truly want to say.
►I just loved every fucking thing.

CONCLUSION

► Wow even typing the word “conclusion” is making my eyes fucking twitch.
► I CAN'T BELIEVE ITS OVER LIKE CAN YOU ? BECAUSE I CAN’T
► I might be unsatisfied that the journey has come to an end but deep down, I'm so fucking satisfied. I choked on my saliva like 7 times because everything wrapped up so beautifully.
►Bright we burn was stunning, breathtaking and the perfect finale. This series is probably going to be one of my favorite's because I will never forget the amount of tears I’ve shed. I will never forget the characters who, quite literally, demanded to live inside my heart. I will never forget, amidst the chaos, this book delivered so many genuine messages filled with hope. And lastly, I will never forget to repeatedly thank Kiersten White for writing and blessing us with this beautiful gem of a series. It may be the end of a remarkable journey but this story and the characters will never end for me. They'll always remain fucking alive in my heart. And hey, re-reads. We can't forget re-reads.

Kiersten White, I look forward to all of your future books.

Thank you so much.

Now let me go cry.

Just three bodies mattered. The same three that had always mattered.
Radu’s.
Lada’s.
And Mehmed’s.”


Now, y'all already know what to do by now.



********************************************

PRE-REVIEW

my thoughts on the cover

mom: what do you want from the grocery store?
me: a pomegranate
mom: but you don't even lik-
me: WELL
me: *dramatic pause*
me: I DO NOW

you know you won at life when kiersten white liked this review
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,328 followers
July 9, 2021
Gritty. Bloody. Unputdownable. The words creative and talented seem like benign descriptors and I’m afraid to imagine what goes on in the mind of Kiersten White. Do yourself a favor and read this series.
Profile Image for Yusra  ✨.
249 reviews510 followers
August 18, 2019

this series means the world to me. I can never find the proper words to describe just how much I’ve loved this gory, bloody, brutal journey that Lada has taken me on, and the moving, spiritual way Radu changed me. it took me a straight three days to muster the courage to read the epilogue because I was not ready in any way, shape or form for the ending of a trilogy that’s just established a place in my heart that no other book will take. I’m not even ashamed of how much I’ll be gushing in this review, so here we go.

if you thought “and i darken” was historical… just you wait. this book is historical to the extreme, which honestly had my head spinning but also had me screaming because I love historical fiction a whole lot. there’s political intrigue that has you second guessing everything and honestly… i’ve never been so shook. it’s a great thing.

Lada

oh lada, lada, lada. i can’t put into words just how much I hate her? but love her?

how many times have you read a book where the girl is pretty badass… but there’s always a limit? like she’s in love with the egotistic prince so she won’t kill him, or his family etc etc?? she’ll falter before the killing blow? or leave people just “injured” on the battlefield?

this book is like a breath of fresh air against all those stereotypes i've read in YA. i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again: kiersten white ain’t worried about anything. she doesn’t care if you think her heroine is too brutal. that’s just my presumption, since she just keeps making lada worse and worse. and i’ll be honest: you know that song, “i hate you, i love you”? god, i hate that song much, but it’s the only thing that comes to mind when I think about lada.
i hate her, i love her, i hate that i love her.

because seriously, there’s so much I don’t think I can forgive her for. but there’s also so much to admire and love about how she doesn’t have a limit. she doesn’t have a quota to fill. she's not planning on taking a “break”. she has one goal: Wallachia, and she is willing to sacrifice anything for it. i’m almost envious of how sure she is of her goals.

that isn’t to say she’s completely unfeeling. we’re exposed to her true vulnerabilities in the most heartbreaking way. how much she values Radu, both as an ally and a brother. how much she cares for the group of Janissaries she started out with. how she deals with heartbreak and the loss of loved ones. I honestly have loved, screamed, and yelled at Lada privately in my head, but I never expected to cry for her. it felt like a piece of me was leaving everytime a goodbye was said.

y’all already know i could go on, and on, and on. but all i’ll say is lada is one of the most amazing and crazy antiheroines to ever exist. and just...wow. i’m almost in tears, bye.

radu

in case you missed it, i love radu . I just love him. what more can i say? there’s just a portion of my heart that belongs to radu and he will forever remain there, period.
first and foremost: i was so beyond excited when he converted to islam/started showing an interest in islam in “and i darken”. because I had already seen how much attention was being paid to the details, whether that was historical or religious, and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. and all in all; I wasn’t. radu’s faith was so pure and the peace he found within it was just… spiritually healing? he was just so real, and it mattered a lot to me. in a book where I was never expecting to find muslim rep, let alone ACCURATE muslim rep, I found it done so well.

just generally speaking, radu is the smarter sibling. *hope lada doesn’t impale me for saying this* but he is tactical, he has a way with words, and he deals fairly. he knows the court games, and boy, he enjoys them. him and lada combined… i’d hate to deal with that, if i was the enemy.

and oh my god. i’m going to miss him so much. it feels like yesterday he was the young boy who stayed close to his nurse and wanted to join bogdan and lada when they played. just yesterday he challenged Colin for the honey cake he knew wasn’t real. just yesterday he was tormented by mircea and used his clever mind to deal out punishment to his bullies. just yesterday he was utterly in love with mehmed and couldn’t think past him. just yesterday he was befriended by kumal and married to nazira, trying to figure out his love and whether it was something dirty, unclean.

and now? radu has changed. his character development… i’m crying. it was everything i’ve ever wanted for his character. everything from his past was wrapped up and he emerged a new person and...wow. so much love for everything radu.

mehmed

i feel the need to mention him because he was a critical part of this series. and he grew too, just not in the way i wanted him to. this book had a lot less mehmed, and honestly, i was fine with it. mehmed grew to only love Lada, and when that love got nowhere… he almost disappeared of the face of this book. it makes me real nostalgic thinking about the days when he was young, a carefree boy who no one paid attention to. now, he has isolated himself to adhere to his status as sultan and… i felt bad for him. his love for lada didn’t really have any affect on me, but the fact that he lost the help of two childhood friends and allies is pretty heartbreaking.

nazira

i love nazira. i didn’t realize the extremity of my love for her until this book. her happiness, her love… it just really got to me and my heart goes for her. and fatima. and cyprian. all of radu’s newfound family.


final verdict
this book is just really sad. for me, it was mostly just sadness at leaving this journey that i’ve been on with some of my favourite characters of YA, and realizing i’ll never see them again. it’s… depressing. also, this was a real quick review and pretty messy, but i’ll be writing a better one soon (i hope).

in conclusion: #readthebook



a huge thank you to the publisher for sending an ARC!

---------------------------

2nd reread- just wondering if this book will ever not make me want to wrap myself in blankets and cry my heart out.

Profile Image for Simona B.
883 reviews2,950 followers
Shelved as 'wishlist'
January 20, 2018
EDIT 20/01/2018
My favourite fruit on the cover is a sign from Kiersten White that she's writing this book for me. So no worry, buddies, our babies will be fine! Because if they aren't, I'll probably burst many a vessel! Yay!

description


EDIT 04/12/2017
TITLE REVEAAAAL oh gosh how on Earth are these titles so pretty?


EDIT 11/05/2017
We bookworms always say it, right? “The wait will kill me,” or, “Give the book to me now and nobody gets hurt.” But this time I mean it.
The wait will kill me. Or I will kill someone else first. And, Radu, my precious. You will find happiness.

description
Profile Image for Jiana.
296 reviews821 followers
October 7, 2018
This trilogy is special to my heart. I wish I could put it into words just how much.

I'm beyond happy that Bright We Burn is the 50th book I read this year, and the book I complete my 2018 Reading Challenge with.

The thing with these books is that they're slow. I admit. They're not fast-paced at all. And each book took me at least a week to finish. However, they're so worth it. I admit I didn't love this one as much as I loved the first two as I found myself struggling while reading it.

Words fail me. I wish I was able to describe just how much I love Radu and how beautiful he is. The development Radu undergoes over the course of this trilogy is spectacular. A sheltered boy who sought to please people became a strong man whose choices revolved around his own happiness. Radu passed through hardships that would easily make him cold and ruthless, yet he maintained the inner peace he's had since he was a little boy. He chose love and people over strength. I think that takes a lot of strength. Radu Dracul is a beautiful soul and he was able to find love with someone who is just as beautiful as he is. Again, words fail me. Cyprian is such an amazing character yet I wish he had more page time this book.

Now, Lada. Where do I begin? Lada is a tough character to love, in my opinion. I had a love/hate relationship with her in this book. Times I was so angry I wanted to smack her, times I was so upset for her. On one hand, I love Lada's strength, her passion and her resilience. However, on the other hand, she's cruel. That's the thing, you don't have to be cruel to be strong. I was bothered by how Lada mistreated her closest friends and how she took them for granted. Until it was too late. By the last few chapters, my heart was breaking for Lada. White finally showed us her hidden side. Her vulnerable side. Gosh. I don't know you guys. She's just beyond complex.

I'd go into Lada and Radu's relationship, but honestly I'd cry so better not. I'll just say that Kiersten White gave me what I needed.

Concerning the side characters (especially Nicolae, Nazira, and Bogdan), I have one word to describe them: unforgettable. Even Mehmed, who you'd want to punch every time he breathed, is unforgettable, and honestly? Despite everything he did, I don't hate him.

Of course, White couldn't help but break my heart this book. How dare you, Kiersten. How dare you! I'm not sure how I feel about the ending; it left a bittersweet feeling in me honestly.

This trilogy is epic and I am beyond happy that I got to read it and experience Lada and Radu's journeys. I still can't believe it's over, and every time I remember that it is, my heart breaks a little more.

Buddy read with Clara & May


Update 18/01/2018: WOULD YOU LOOK AT THE GLORIOUS COVER HOLY SHIT!!!! But what does that pomegranate mean??
Now I need to wait for the UK cover to be released because I own the UK editions.

Update 04/11/2017: TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE. TITLE.

@ Kiersten White what do you mean I have to wait till June 2018 for this???

description
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
653 reviews3,840 followers
September 10, 2018
Claim the Throne. Demand the Crown. Rule the World.



I fucking adore this series so much. Sometimes a series just comes along and blows you away, it forces you to fall in love with the characters, invest in their lives and eagerly await each new chapter with bated breath because you're so nervous and concerned for all the characters. Those series are literally the best and this series is one of those series.

If you asked me why I love it so much I would tell you this: I love it for it's impeccable character development. I love it for pushing characters to their absolute limits and showing up people who are simultaneously loveable and loathsome. I love it for it's excellent exploration of character dynamics. I love it for it's exploration of history that felt historical enough to be informative but alternative enough to be fun. I love it for representing queer Muslim characters and exploring misogyny and the commodification of women, especially in times of war. I love, a lot of things about this series. And it sure has become one of my favourites of all time.

But if I had to pinpoint just one thing I love the most it's the character workKiersten White is writing this epic historical retelling but shes concerned with people. Although she sets this series with the backdrop of the Ottoman Empires conquests of Europe and the fight for Wallachian Independence, most of it is about how these things effect people, and how people interact with losing their identities and their countries, losing their friends and their family, losing their agency and losing their childhood. Trust me, there's plenty of war, death, blood and bodies, but the core and the soul of this series is in it's characters. The individual characters, and their interactions with eachother, drive this book and for readers who love character driven stories like me that is ideal.

Who was she? She was the dragon. Her country had teeth and claws and fire, and she would use every last bit of them.


🔪 LADA

My relationship with Lada is complicated. I liked her a lot in the first book and disliked her a lot in the second. But in this third one I loved her, the most. Kiersten White stretches her character to it's absolute limits. She's always been an anti-heroine and in Bright We Burn she precariously leans on the edge of anti-heroine and straight up villain. That slight, slight inclination she has, where you know she could just go either way, kept this SO, so interesting. But the thing is, despite everything Lada did, I pitied her so much. This is a girl who's country has been systematically destroyed by an uncaring empire, who's own father betrayed her, who was stripped of her identity, grew up surrounded by enemies and who had to fight tooth and nail for every piece of recognition she got because no one was willing to give her anything. You have to admire her audacity, and the sheer determination that drove her actions throughout this book especially. Ultimately I felt enormous sympathy for her character despite knowing some things she did were Objectively Bad and I think that is a testament to Kiersten White's truly well constructed character construction.

🌻 RADU

I adore Radu and I always have, and I always will. What I love most about him is that his character growth is so consistent but the change in his character is so stark. His character development goes along this trajectory where you can see how he's changing and it's so logical and well written, but when you take a step back and look at the big picture you're really so blown away by how he went from this naive, obsessed and kind of weak character to a strong diplomat and respected figure and turned all that pain and turmoil into kindness. I am the hugest sucker for nice characters and Radu is the Ultimate Nice Character. Radu's arc around understanding that he deserves to be treated well and that he is allowed to forgive himself for some things just really was a lot for me. I just loved it a lot.

MEHMED/RADU/LADA

This three way friendship/relationship triangle has been consistently fascinating to me throughout this whole series and the payoff here is insanely good. With these three there is a weird dependency but it's mixed in with so much resentment. Like, none of them can live without eachother, but all of them can't let eachother live. The building of the tension leading up to their inevitable showdown kept me hanging onto every single word. And I loved how White created that inevitability, like there was no way any of this could end except with the three of them dealing with all their shit. The ending (THAT EPILOGUE) was .. absolutely perfect. And I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Honestly lets just stay on relationships for a minute because I got a few to talk about:

RADU AND LADA:

“Do you think it was him that came between us? Or were we destined to end up on opposite sides?” Lada felt an unfamiliar heaviness behind her eyes.
“We had to survive. We just figured out different ways to do it.”


I have always loved the relationship between these two. Lada being both protective and disdainful of Radu is interesting, and that tension that exists wherein Lada perceives Radu as abandoning his identity, and Radu perceives Lada as unable to accept change and recognise defeat is so interesting. Their sibling relationship kills me and the fact that the two of them are so intimately connected even though they hate it is FASCINATING.

MEHMED AND LADA:
These two are SO interesting and while there wasn't as much of them as And I Darken it was still enough to keep me happy. The epilogue, again, killed me. I love that Mehmed and Lada recognises eachother as equals whilst detesting the other is their equal. And the admiration for eachother behind opposite enemy lines created such an interesting dynamic.

RADU AND CYPRIAN AND NAZIRA AND FATIMA ... Kiersten White really gave the gays everything they ever wanted with THIS pair up. First off, Nazira and Fatima are sapphic queens who deserve the world. The sheer wholesomeness of their relationship is enough to five star this book alone. Radu and Cyprian are similarly adorable and I'm not gonna lie, their scenes were so soft I wanted to sob. Radu and Nazira are iconic "we're platonically in love" soulmates and second in iconic-ness only to Aled and Frances from Radio Silence who are my children. I love Radu and Nazira's friendship so much and any scene of them teasing eachother and having eachothers back just made me .. so emo. I love them so much.

There was something to be said for having his heart broken so many times. Broken things healed thicker and stronger than they were before. Assuming one survived long enough to heal.


god I could genuinely just talk about this series forever and ever. I love it that much. I've never really fallen in love with historical fiction before, in fact only three times, with The Infernal Devices, The Diviners, and then this. And I Darken is much more of a straight historical fiction, while it reads like fantasy sometimes (another thing I love) it's not got any magic or anything and that isn't something I genuinely go for but I LOVE it so much. Kiersten White thought about everything, the character construction is just incredibly good, the characters are brutal and hard and unbelievably cruel to eachother at times, but there is also so much hope and goodness and happiness in these pages too.

My expectations for this were INSANELY high, because I had it hyped up to me a lot but it actually still managed to exceed my expectations. I feel like, genuinely, every singe word was in the right place here. Kiersten White had her vision and she executed it flawlessly and because of that I will always hold this series in such high regard.

Farewell for now to Lada and Radu and Mehmed and Nazira and Fatima and Cyprian! We went through a lot together folks but I'm sure I will be back for a reread soon. I cannot believe I am so whipped for this series but really, I would die for these murder stabby children without hesitation.
Profile Image for Delirious Disquisitions.
428 reviews179 followers
December 7, 2019
You should read this if you like: historical fiction, strong/badass female protagonists with anger management issues, ruthless women, villains/antiheroes, LGBTQ characters, enemies to lovers trope, dysfunctional relationships, murder, war, strategies, gore, etc.

A bit of warning, this is going to be a long one. I spent about 70% of this book sobbing my heart out, dreading the ending, and generally being an emotional wreck. This book burned a hole through my heart and I'm just so incredibly sad that it's over.

Bright We Burn picks up sometime after the events in book 2. Lada, as Prince of Wallachia, is busy systematically disposing of her enemies, establishing new rules in place, and generally ruling with fear and an iron fist. Meanwhile, Radu has returned to Mehmed's side, weary but wiser from his time at Constantinople. The story is fast-paced and action-packed. Kiersten White weaves an intricate plot rife with political intrigue, military strategies, jealousy, love/hate, and heartbreak. Amidst all this is Lada’s struggle to hold onto her beloved Wallachia.

It’s historical fiction so we know how it all ends going in. And yet, in White’s hands these facts come to melodramatic life as she expertly transverses that thin line between historical accuracy and creative liberty. At times it blurred the lines between fiction and fantasy in my mind, so invested was I in these characters. I’ve never been more heartbroken then that moment when I suddenly remembered that Lada wasn’t a real person and that even if history remembers Vlad Tepes, it will never remember her name.

She was a dragon.
She was a prince.
She was a woman.
It was the last that scared them most of all.


While Vlad the Impaler was a fascinating character in his own right, there is an added subtext to his story when seen through a female lens. Lada embodies all the extra challenges of a woman born in an era where ambition, ruthlessness, and drive were firmly masculine traits. She had to fight twice as hard for any semblance of respect; to gain an inch and fight to keep the things she has won. Lada’s struggles are real and relatable. Her frustrations are understandable. We sympathize with her and applaud her victories even as we feel the horror of Lada’s actions.

This isn’t to say that Lada is a likable character, either as a protagonist or a villain. In writing Lada, the author had her work cut out for her. Unlike so many YA female protagonists who flirt with the concept of unlikability, Lada jumps right off that edge with no holds barred. She has all the markings of a true villain. Lada is violent, destructive, ruthless, and an all-round terrible person. Lada has no qualms about murdering men, women, and children on her way to the top. She doesn’t care about winning over her people, she would rather rule over them with fear and her nightmarish reputation. Yet in spite of everything she does to get to her throne, I just can’t help but love her.

Maybe it's because Lada’s ambition has always been in service of her country. Everything that she does is for the betterment of Wallachia and her people. There is a strange kind of kinship between Lada and Wallachia, so much so that one becomes an extension of the other. Both Lada and Wallachia grow up under the shadow of the enemy. Both find ways to adapt and survive under those conditions. Wallachia’s hardened landscape parallels Lada’s personality, their soft and vulnerable hearts tucked away under an impenetrable armor. They are both small, fierce, and incredibly hard to love. And yet, like Radu and Mehmed, you come to love them anyway.

“Then do not aim for greatness. Aim for goodness. And however you get there will the right path for you, my sweet Radu.”

Radu’s voice has grown steadily stronger over the course of the last 2 books. In Bright we Burn we are met with a Radu haunted by the choices he made in Constantinople. His indecision cost people their lives and now on the other side of the fence, he no longer knows what he’s fighting for. I liked this older, wearier version of his character who questions his decisions and no longer blindly follows behind Mehmed.

Radu’s experience has made him stronger. It's forged confidence in himself and his abilities; he is no longer driven by feelings of inadequacy or shame. Rather, he is driven by love for his family made up of Nazira, Fatma, Kumal, and even Cyprian. Radu is not Lada or Mehmed. Where their decisions come from a place of ruthlessness and ambition, his comes from a place of love and mercy. Radu’s strength of character lies in his sheer likability and his skill for manipulation that comes from years of trying to fit into and carve a place for himself. In some ways, that makes him stronger than Mehmed or Lada.

“Do you think it was him that came between us? Or were we destined to end up on opposite sides?”
Lada felt an unfamiliar heaviness behind her eyes. “We had to survive. We just figured out different ways to do it.”It struck her then, how they had lived the exact same childhood. How had the same circumstances shaped them in divergent ways?


Radu and Lada are two other sides of the same coin and their interactions have always been fascinating to read. In this book, they match each other step for step, making moves and countermoves on either side. And in between, as always, is Mehmed. Theirs is a messed up relationship with Lada chasing Wallachia, Mehmed after Lada, and Rudu trailing behind Mehmed. It's as it has always been except this time the stakes are higher with a war, two countries, and millions of lives on the line.

While I love this trios fucked up relationship dynamic, I just cannot bring myself to like Mehmed. Objectively I can admire drive/ vision. But I just hate him as a love interest! He genuinely pisses me off the way he completely disregards Lada’s ambition. For Mehmed, Lada is something to be conquered and possessed. He has never understood her obsession with Wallachia and frankly, is a condescending douchebag whenever they talk about it. As if Lada trying to govern Wallachia is a game and she will come back to him when she grows tired of it. Mehmed’s dismissal of Lada’s dreams just undermines everything that she has worked so hard to accomplish. It infuriates me that despite everything, he still refuses to see Lada as an equal adversary. Nothing can be more insulting and I just hate him for it. Beyond everything, Mehmed is a selfish prick. His refusal to let go of either sibling just reinforces that idea. But at least now both Lada and Radu have more important things to worry about.

“He had all the power in the world, and he would extend none to help me. He did not want to see me succeed. He only ever cared about me in relation to himself.”

And now that I’m done ranting about the trio, a few other things I loved about this book:

Secondary characters: I just love the secondary characters in this book! Everyone from Lada’s men and women, the people of Wallachia, Nazira, Fatima, Kunal, Cyprian, Mara, and even Stephan! Each character had their own role to play here, no matter how small. White did such an incredible job of fleshing out these characters that anyone of them could have their own spin-off book and I would love it!

Sexuality: I don’t have words for just how much I love the LGBTQ representation in this book! Amidst all the hate and bloodshed, Radu, Nazariza, Fatima, and Cyprian form their own little utopia of love and acceptance. I cry every time I think of this family and the struggles they had to go to find each other. White treats this subject matter with so much love and care especially in the context of religion. It's never preachy or one-sided. Rather, White allows these characters to make peace with themselves and support each other. It's just so incredibly pure and sweet it makes my heart hurt!

And lastly, the ending:I ugly cried through 70% of this book but that last 50% really broke me. With how much I love Lada, it was bloody devastating to see her lose pieces of herself along the way in the people she loved. She is such a flawed character. And yet she inspires so much loyalty from the people who love her. I did not want the ending to reduce her legend in any way. I did not want to see her humiliated and stripped of all power that she sacrificed so much of herself to get. In that regard, the ending was both bittersweet, satisfying, and extremely sad.

It was hard to think of a future where few would remember Lada’s name. She is so vivid in my mind that it hurts, it really hurts, to think she’s not a real person at all. So kudos to Ms. White for writing such a character and wrecking my heart in the process. In the end it doesn’t really matter if history doesn’t remember our Lady Dragon, The Prince of Wallachia. I doubt that I'll ever forget her. 5/5 Stars.

P.S. This book makes me so damn bloodthirsty like it makes me want to vanquish my enemies and bathe in their blood. Honestly, 10/10 would recommend to anyone to read this when they are in a bad mood. It will cure everything.
Profile Image for ☆ Mira ✷.
169 reviews80 followers
August 26, 2018
[on my wedding night]

me: I love you

the person I just married: but do you love me as much as you loved The Conqueror’s Saga 10 years ago?

me: ...I’ll get back to you on that.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
801 reviews3,762 followers
October 2, 2018
I FINISHED!

and it only took 3 attempts and 54 days :") i'd say its a success

REALLY dont know how i feel about the ending but the writing and pacing lost my interest SO MANY times i cant even begin to tell you. i loved the first two books but man, this one was tiring to read

i know everyones gonna hate me for this but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2.5 stars!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

it's practically attempt #3 at this point attempt #2 at reading this

buddy read with mama leek & a cute
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
587 reviews3,480 followers
October 30, 2018
4.5 stars

“Who was she? She was the dragon. Her country had teeth and claws and fire, and she would use every last bit of them.”


I spent the entire duration of reading Bright We Burn either doing this:



Or this:



The Conqueror's Saga smashed its way into my stone cold heart with And I Darken, trod on the pieces, then threw what was left in a washer and set it on heavy duty in Now I Rise. And now Bright We Burn has come to see the job done.

“She had Wallachia, and she would do everything she could to protect it, but she wanted to punish Mehmed. Kidnapping Radu—taking back the first, and the last, thing Mehmed had taken from her—might be enough to make him come to her when tens of thousands of bodies had not.

Just three bodies mattered. The same three that had always mattered.

Radu’s.

Lada’s.

And Mehmed’s.”


Lada, my brutal, ferocious darling. I admit I had my issues with her at first, but she's really grown on me. What can I say? I love my ladies vicious and armed to the teeth. Unlike when she first arrived in the Ottoman courts, she is now older, wiser, and absolutely hell-bent on cementing power as prince of her beloved homeland Wallachia.

If you didn't like her back in And I Darken, you certainly won't like her now. She is straight-up cruel in Bright We Burn and completely unapologetic. There are very clear, uncomfortable parallels between her and Mehmed. (Uncomfortable for me because I hate Mehmed and hope he grows some sort of foot fungus) Both are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goal, including manipulating the people around them. I've always despised Mehmed for the way he treats Radu and it's heartbreaking to see Lada arguably use Bogdan the same way. But Lada is Lada. She's never been one to shy away from violence and cruelty and honestly I'm like one of those fanatically loyal peasants in Wallachia—I'm with her till the end.



Radu, I loved from the start. I can't even talk about him without turning into a blubbering mess and having to resort to holding up a picture of a freshly baked cinnamon roll to demonstrate my adoration for him. He has gone through so much this series, grown so much. In many ways, he's the complete opposite of Lada: kind where she's merciless, cunning where she's brute strength. This whole series has been driving towards a reunion (or collision is a better word) of the two Dracul siblings and White handles the scene with as much skill as she does everything in the novel. It's surprising, tension-packed, and agonizing to my blood pressure.

Some thoughts on the ending:

I admit I don't know much about the historical Vlad the Impaler so I can't much on accuracy, but I can tell you this series is fantastic from start to finish. Intricately plotted, bloody, and feminist. As bereft a dragon.



My review of And I Darken
My review of Now I Rise
Profile Image for alana ♡.
638 reviews1,231 followers
August 10, 2018

I have one word for you all to sum up this book.
OUCH.


My heart is shattered into a million pieces. I finished this two days ago and I keep going back and rereading the epilogue to make sure I read it right. While I understand that there is no better way for this trilogy to end, it doesn't hurt any less. In fact, it probably hurts so much more. If you have not read this trilogy before it's basically a YA historical fiction story that follows the most badass, ruthless, brutal, and bloody MC's we've ever seen, Lada Dracul. I cannot stress how much I love her. Even though I didn't agree with all the choices she made, she will go down as one of my favorite YA females ever because I love to love her and I love to hate her.

In case you thought I was lying about the bloody part...
"What sustains you?" 
"The blood of my enemies."

This is going to be short since it's the final book in the trilogy and basically everything is a spoiler, but there are a few things I want to talk about.

-This book is slightly shorter than the other two and I think that made it so much better. Historical fiction can sometimes become a snooze fest for me but not in this book. I found with the other two books they were a bit slower than this one, but this one just hit the ground running and never stopped. I mean the middle of this book was INSANE and so brilliant.

-Radu, is still infuriatingly blinded by his love for Mehmed and I was so shocked by some of the choices he made throughout this, and as much as I've always wanted to hate him... I just can't.

-Mehmed is absent for the majority of this book and clearly I'm fine with it since he's the actual worst. Somethings just never change.

-I STAN NAZIRA AND FATIMA FOREVER AND ALWAYS

-There's a certain twist to the story for Lada, but I had a feeling for a long time it was going to happen. I'm just really not sure how I feel about because I have A LOT of emotions towards it, both good and bad.

-THE EPILOGUE. Gosh, I want to talk about this so bad, but I won't because it will spoil everything. Ugh, it was just everything I could have hoped for and everything I was afraid of all in one.


Favorite Quotes
"He could not have conversations about his future as though his past were not looped around his neck like a noose, choking him with regret and sorrow.

"Why were men always trying to claim different parts of her? Her body, her name, her soul. Why should they care where its allegiances lay?"

"It was enough."

""Impossible is where my sister excels," Radu said. "That and never backing down.""

All in all, despite how heavy my heart is, this was still amazing. I don't think I'll ever love a YA historical fiction story as much as I love Lada, Radu, and Mehmed's. These characters will always have a part of my heart despite how infuriating they all could be. If you enjoy politics, romance, blood & gore, and betrayals on top of betrayals on top of BETRAYALS, than look no further than this trilogy. It will hurt, but it's worth the pain.


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Profile Image for Lucy Tonks.
415 reviews691 followers
March 13, 2021
4.5
"A heart did not have to be stone to be strong."

I finished this book and I'm broken. By the end of it, I was just sobbing. Oh god, I love this series.


This book is the third and final book in The Conqueror's Saga. Bright We Burn follows the last part of Lada, Mehmed and Radu's journey. This book starts up a few months, maybe a year after the end of the second one and we see how the events of it impacted our main  characters, especially Radu and Lada since the series is told from the point of views.


I love the plot of this book and this might actually be my favourite in the series. It was more fast paced than the first two books and I just flew through it. And as much as I suffered (not a lot of happy things happen in it😳), this still has to be my favourite. I found the plot more engaging and unlike the first books I liked reading from both Lada and Radu's perspectives in this one.


"She was a dragon.
She was a prince.
She was a woman.
It was the last that scared them most of all."



As much as I like Lada, there were so many times when she was just getting on my nerves. All the characters in this series are morally grey (well, most of them, but whatever), and it can be extremely hard to root for any of them. Lada made some decisions in this book and I was just like:



Radu, on the other hand, can be an easier character to root for. He can be just as cruel as Lada if he wants to, but also at the same time he has some moral values that keeps him from doing that, that doesn't let him tep the boarder that Lada has. He is my favourite character in this series and I'm happy with the ending he got because that's exactly what he deserves. 


Mehmed can just burn in hell. I don't care for him. I don't care for him at all. The only thing he does in this series is hold our main characters back. I just hate him so much. Lada and Radu could have achieved their full potential sooner if not for him. The only thing I wanted was to strangle him until he let my babies free, to achieve what they had to.


Also honorable mentions to Nazira, Fatima and Ciprian. I love their characters so much and I just couldn' get enough of them. I wish they were a but more present in the book, although since they are side characters, I understand why they are not.


One of the reason I love this book so much is because it is inspired by actual history. By evemts that actually happened in the past. And to be more specific it is inspiired by Romanian history, by the life of Vlad the Impaler and because I am from Romania, I was so excited when I found out about this series. I do not regret reading it, I'm so happy that this book exists and that it is inspired by one of the most fascinating periods in Romanian history.


In this book, there were a few plot twists that I expected because I knew the whole story of actually happened, but I'm also happy that most of what I expected to didn't actually happened. That would have just been to much for my heart to handle.


The ending was perfect for this series. It just was and I absolutely loved the way Kiersten White handled this story, with so much care. So much research went into it and you can clearly see that. Thank you, ma'am for writing this book! Thank you!


I love this series and I recommend it to everyone, even if you are not a historical ficiton fan, just try it. I'm not and I really liked this series.


"That is the thing with giving your heart. You never wait for someone to ask. You hold it out and hope they want it."
Profile Image for Nina.
306 reviews409 followers
July 17, 2018
Well, my soul is properly full and ruined at the same time. This was good but I'm not sure I liked it quite as much as the sequel. Will have to ponder.

RTC.

---

Actual footage of me wondering whether the final instalment will put historical accuracy before unicorns and rainbows, and then wondering which option I'd rather have because I have feelings

Profile Image for Taylor.
446 reviews132 followers
June 15, 2021
"She had dug through the mountain to reach her heart's desire, and found the mountain had a heart after all: the beating pulse required of all those who would not stop, would not accept what the world offered, would not bow."

...

This series is perfection.

I am a complete and utter mess over Bright We Burn, because it is genuinely one of the greatest conclusions I've ever read.

Kiersten White has done something incredible with The Conqueror's Saga. She's crafted a story that's sprawling, emotionally profound, and completely epic. It's hard for me to put into words the amount of love I have for this book and this series, but I'm going to try.

Bright We Burn takes place several months after the events of Now I Rise. Lada, Radu, and Mehmed are all players in a game that only one can win; Radu is haunted by the siege of Constantinople and the friends he was forced to betray, Mehmed is determined to expand his empire and bring home the woman he loves, and Lada will not rest until Wallachia is autonomous from Ottoman rule. Radu knows that his sister's indomitable will could result in all their worlds burning, and Lada is willing to destroy everything that came before to win her country's freedom.

The fact that this series exists is a blessing. A gender-bent story of Vlad the Impaler? Fifteenth century history filled with betrayal, political intrigue, and war? Amazing queer representation?! Thank you, Kiersten White. Thank you for these beautiful books.

I could sing long, earnest ballads about each of the characters and how much I adore them, but I'll just say this:

I've never connected with Lada more than in this book. She commits unspeakable atrocities in the name of Wallachia, and I'm still in shock from a specific thing she did. Lada went there. She's not a hero or a good person; she does terrible things, and the fascinating thing about Lada's character is that I understood where she was coming from. The rampant misogyny present in this era of history forced her to lengths that she was convinced were right, and I understood. Lada is a woman, and because of this, she can never stop fighting for her right to rule. Not for one second, because the world will tear her down if she does.


"For the first time in a long time, she felt like a girl. It terrified her. Because there was nothing in the world more vulnerable to be than a girl."


I adore Lada. She's one of my favorite characters of all time, and I will never stop loving her.

Radu is my adopted son, if you didn't know. The growth that he's experienced throughout this series is astounding, and the ways in which he came into his own in Bright We Burn made me so proud. Throughout this series, Radu has struggled with his purpose and identity. Is he Radu Bey, a powerful general in the Ottoman Empire? Radu the Handsome, best friend to the Sultan? Or Radu Dracul, brother of the Dragon and the lesser Dracul?

His path towards self-acceptance and healing was beautiful in this book, and it filled my heart with so much warmth. I'm still so attached to Radu and Lada's sibling relationship. It's messy and complicated, and even though both love each other, their goals are entirely different. Their separation in book two pained me, so witnessing their dynamic once again was so satisfying, and incredibly emotional. I absolutely loved it.

Every single side character brought something to this story: Nazira, Fatima, and Cyprian are my beautiful gay babies and I would do anything for them. I'm tearing up just thinking about how lovely they all are, and Radu and Cyprian? My God, I love their relationship. IT'S ADORABLE AND THEY'RE MY FAVORITE.

I was worried going into Bright We Burn that the length of it was too short; this book is noticeably smaller than the rest of the series, but I should've never been worried. This conclusion was expertly plotted.

There were so many shocking twists and turns in this book, so many emotionally charged moments between the characters that had me on edge. White knows how to perfectly write political intrigue and intense negotiations between characters. I could honestly say that I never saw any of the plot points of this book coming. People die, and the tension in this book was a palpable thing. I was completely sucked into Bright We Burn from the very beginning.

This conclusion was so satisfying, with just the right amount of bittersweet moments. I can't convey how much I absolutely adored this book without sounding like a blubbering mess, so I'll just say this:

The Conqueror's Saga is one of my favorite series of all time, and I can't recommend them enough. These books are masterpieces of historical fiction, with wonderfully complex characters, rich history, and epic scope.

And they're hella queer. What more could you ever want??

I LOVE THIS SERIES. And I love this book. Amen.

...

"And she would be there, in the center, curled around her own land. Wallachia would survive. It always survived. But with her there, and everything around them descended into deadly disorder, Wallachia would finally thrive.

After all, fire and blood and death were nothing to a country led by a dragon."
Profile Image for Nikolae Keaveney.
180 reviews1 follower
August 4, 2018
Update after reading August 2nd, 2018
Words cannot describe my love for this series, this tale, and these characters. In my heart, they are already more than characters, they are companions for life. I'm sure that I can pick this series back up at any time in my life and enjoy the story again. Lada, Mehmed, and Radu are already real. I just have not met them yet.
This series should not be labeled as "Young Adult". It is too mature, too deep, and too meaningful to be so.
This book should not have a rating. It is not without its flaws, but for the first time since I started using goodreads, I don't want to talk about its flaws and perfections. I only want to talk and to express my love for it.
This series has been in my life for three years now. I grew up with it. It changed my life in ways more than I can describe. I remember times in my life, when I was so beaten by hardships and emotions and depression, when I didn't want to continue fighting anymore. Then I would reach for this story, devour it, and continue fighting.
Lada became my model, my idol, and also the person I fear I would become. I hated her, and I also loved her. My feelings now are simply so muddled that I do not want to sort them out anymore. Just let them be, as things will always be grey, not black and white.
The characters in this series have all hurt each other greatly, but they have also loved each other wholly and completely. They forgive, but they don't forget. They simply let their complex history exist.
One of the ways that I feel this series is so different from many other young adult series I've read is that it is eerily similar to real life. Isn't the relationships in this book the relationships real humans experience? (minus the killing of course). We as people are bound to fight, hurt, forgive, and eventually continue our lives.
If I were to be completely honest, the ending is a little disppointing. I was looking for a BANG, but instead, this series ended on a wimper. But sometimes life ends on a wimper, like a candle finally dying with nothing but a thin trail of smoke and a soft hiss. However, an ending is still an ending, and I still love it like how I would still love my friends no matter what happens.
The point that the story left at still left many events untold. But I don't think that this is necessary. After three books, I knew what was going to happen to the characters. They would continue to hurt each other, and forgive each other, and love each other, as all humans are born to do. Emotions are too complex to figure out or understand. We don't have to sort everything out, we just have to live.
Just living is more than enough.

Update April 30th, 2o18
I woke up extra-emotional today, and I want to say something.
This series has being such an immense part of my life for the last two years. All of the struggles I faced in school, in life, I survived. Because I have Lada's courage and Radu's faith. Every time I feel like I won't ever get up again, I think of all the impossible things that my precious babies have conquered, and I keep going.
Now that AP exam seasons are coming, my life is just slowly deteriorating. The next three weeks are going to be full of tears and pain, but I will be fine. I have this amazing series with me. I believe that Lada and I are going to go through this together. I feel relieved.


Title prediction:

LAST I BURN


OMFGOMFG I got one word right😭😭😭😭😭😭😭
I've been blessed by the book gods. If only I knew to switch "I" for "we".

January 18th, 2017
THE COVER IS SO BEAUTIFUL MY LIFE IS COMPLETE ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Now I just need to get it in my hands. Please, Kiersten, take good care of my heart, it is fragile.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,424 reviews8,981 followers
December 13, 2022
Bright We Burn is the third and final book in Kiersten White's sweeping YA-series, The Conqueror's Saga.

I bought this entire trilogy back in 2018 and she has stood quietly, yet beautifully, on my shelves, unread, for all these years. I picked up the first book on a whim, And I Darken, last month when I started my TBR-Haul Project.



The goal of this self-created project is simply to get me to read some of the backlist titles that I own. And I Darken was the first book of the project and I'm so glad it was.

I had such a successful reading experience with that book and consequently binged the rest of the series.



I found the world White created over the course of this series completely immersive. I was transported to the Ottoman Empire and I found it to be such a refreshing, captivating, mysterious, yet brutal, setting.

The characters, particularly our main characters Lada, Radu and Mehmed, were each so fleshed out and distinct. Over the course of the series I became so attached to them and invested in their lives. I was like a helicopter mom circling them; especially Lada.



Lada was my favorite character. I loved her strength and determination. I felt like White wrote her really well. It was easy to understand her motivations and as hard as she was, you could tell that it was because she was essentially traumatized from her childhood.

She pushed everyone away, only keeping her country in her heart, that way no one could break it. I felt for her. Additionally, she's a complete and total badass.



After returning to her home country, Lada uses a thousand stakes to send a message to her rivals. This one would never go down without a fight.

Radu grew so much in this one as well. It took a lot to get him to this place, but I think he finally is able to gain some sort of peace, or at least understanding, in his life that was satisfying to see.

He was a sweet baby bird that I wanted to protect from the beginning of the series. In this book, it didn't feel as much like that. He really came into his own and although not a perfect situation, we love to see the growth.



Overall, White sent me on a tremendous journey with these characters. I haven't been this emotional at the close of a series in a long, long time. We're talking actual tears, folks.

Kiersten White has destroyed me. I may never fully recover.



I've now read 9-books from this author and I'll tell you, she's a heavy hitter in my book.

I will continue to pick up anything she writes and I recommend you do too!
Profile Image for Tova.
628 reviews
November 8, 2018
Claim the Throne. Demand the Crown. Rule the World.

Well ..... I have some feelings. I am essentially Kumal.
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This is the 42 book I've completed this year, and since 42 is the answer to the question of the universe, I know what the question is .......

WHO THE HECK AUTHORIZED YOU TO PLAY WITH MY HEART LIKE THAT KIERSTEN WHITE??
Kiersten, I do not have the words to tell you how much this series means to me, so I won't even try at this point in time. But Lada baby, Radu darling, and Mehmed sweetie, as your mother, I am so unbelievably proud of you. My heart will always love and adore you beyond anything else.

I'm sorry, the old Tova can't come to the phone right now. Why? Because she's deceased from reading Bright We Burn (and senioritus) but you can finally read my full review here!

*FLAILS IN TURKISH* MY COPY FINALLY CAME!!!!!!!!!
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Okay, it hasn't quite been 84 years. It's only been 386 days, but that feels like an eternity, several lifetimes and infinity wrapped into one tortuous package. Like I preordered it and took over a week for it to come because my lovely father didn't let me get two-day shipping. I majorly regret this because I have been dying the past 11 days. I never preorder things, and I honestly would have gotten it faster if I hadn't preordered. But my copy and signed and personalized by the lovely queen, Kiersten White herself, and I got a fanart bookmark, and I am SO HAPPY to be back with my babies.

This was me when I went to the post office and I saw that I had a package waiting for me:
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And this is honestly what I wanted to do when I unwrapped it in all its glory.

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Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba
Sithi uhm ingonyama
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhhmm ingonyama
Ingonyama
Siyo Nqoba
Ingonyama
Ingonyama nengw' enamabala


BR with my soul sister from another mother & fellow AID
#1 Stan, Yursa!<

This book comes out in two weeks, and everything is real surreal. 1) I preorder the book, so it will be sighned and personalize by the queen Kiersten. 2) I will actually be a writers camp the day this is out, so I won't get my copy until at least the 14th. I pray my preorder comes by then, even though my dad made me get the 2 week shipping option. 3) I am BR this with Yusra when it comes out. And we are officially the AID biggest stans. 4) This is the last book in this series which means I have to say goodbye to my babies and I am not ready.
---
WE HAVE A COVER! I REPEAT WE HAVE A COVER AND HOLY FUCK ITS BEAUTIFUL!

I want for Christmas (besides Hamilton tickets,) so Kiersten I beg of you to come through with at least this) is a cover reveal and a June release date. PLEASE. ((UPDATE: I actually got Hamilton tickets, wonders never cease.))

JULY 10th? JULY 10TH? WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME KIERSTEN WHITE?

Okay, so the last sentence of this book is just 3 words. And whenever Kiersten thinks about those three words, she cries. I am fucking terrified. I'm crossing my fingers the words are "And they lived."

{November 4th, 2017}
We have a title and a synopsis!

Title: Bright We Burn. Hmm, I like it. But I also kind wish it had been Here I Stand, or Last I Burn. But Bright We Burn is still epic AF. And I'm here for epicness.

Synopsis: Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it?

Lada's rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won't rest until everyone knows that her country's borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed's peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister's indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before--including her relationships--can Lada truly build the country she wants.

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.

Curious, I am glad that there are no typos involved this time around.

But what do you mean by Mehmed understand Lada? HE DOESN'T! HE'S A {CLUELESS} GUY!

Also, a historical few reminders for Y'all.
- Mehmed died in 1481, of illness
-Radu was the first male concubine of Murad II & Mehmed II
- Vlad's rule was very short
-Radu got married & had a daughter
- RADU & MEHMED WERE AN ACTUAL THING

I will stand by my precious Mehmed, and you can hate him all you want and it won't change anything for me.

If Kiersten White kills him, part of me will die with him probably.

If he does die you call all scream this: "La Grande Aquila è morta!" (The Great Eagle is dead!') and while you do that, I'll be sobbing in a corner.

To say, I am ready for this book to slay my very soul. Lada, baby, Mehmed, darling and Radu, precious, just know that I love you very much, and I just want you to be happy.

---
*desperately needs*

I lowkey want the title to be AND I KILL

Full pre-review to come because I NEED DIS BOOK
___
Pre-review 101:
Title Prediction: Here I Stand.
My reasoning: And I Darken. Now I Rise. Here I Stand. That would just be epic AF

I haven't read Now I Rise yet, and I already instantly know that I need this book in my life on June 28th, if not sooner. And the lack of information has me like:

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Yet, June 27th, 2017 is still 109 days away which in my humble opinion is too far away!

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What I would not give to get an arc of this book. Kiersten White is Queen and I need to know what happens to my babies. It is also quite infuriating that the last book is over about 477 days until Book 3s estimated release.

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That is 477 days of pain and suffering and I DO NOT look forward to or appreciate!
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And I carry no shame, for my love for this series. This series is basically my dream. It combines a bunch of things.

So, if we do the math I have about 163+ episodes of MC & MCK left which means I could probably watch an episode every day and finish all the to come episodes in the next couple of seasons of MCK and I'd still have extra time to wait. You know how happy that makes me? - about as happy as Selim is to be seen tied up.

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Okay, Part 2 & 3 to come!
July 21, 2018
And I Darken: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Now I Rise: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Bright We Burn🌟🌟🌟🌟


A bittersweet ending to a gorgeously written series. Also, Lada will always be my prince.

Review to come!

blog 💞instagram 💞twitter 💞email yours truly
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my friends literally just hid this book from me because they knew i would get distracted from finals are they the best... or the worst, idk :'')
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i just got an arc of this book I HAVE BEEN BLESSED
Profile Image for clara.
69 reviews162 followers
October 23, 2018
I originally gave this 4 1/2 stars, but over the course of writing this review, I realised that this deserved nothing less than 5 stars. Not only was this a wild ride and an epic conclusion to what has quickly become one of my favourite series of all time, this story and these characters have, in a short span of time, come to mean the world to me.

l a d a :
I have to applaud Kiersten White for creating a character so unlikeable, on paper, yet so sympathetic. Lada has always been an antiheroine, but this book pushes this to the limits. Her moral ambiguity and her ability to do whatever it took to achieve her goal was such a fresh breath of air to what I usually find from supposed ‘antiheroines’ in YA, who are, let’s be real, never morally ambiguous enough. And despite everything she did, despite all of the atrocities and horrors she committed, I understood why she did it. She fights tooth and nail for her country, for respect and acknowledgement, because she knows that if she ever stops fighting, men will always take away what is hers. By reimagining Vlad the Impaler as a woman, The Conqueror’s Saga allows for a careful dissection of misogyny and the obstacles faced by women in a world dominated by men.
She was a dragon.
She was a prince.
She was a woman.
It was the last that scared them most of all.
r a d u:
Radu’s character arc was so brilliantly written. Lada has always been my favourite character, but his journey from self-internalised homophobia to acceptance and self-love resounded so deeply within me.
Radu had been wrong all this time. He had felt guilty for the way his heart yearned for other men. But it was not his own love that was poisonous and destructive. His love destroyed nothing, hurt no one. Lada loved Wallachia above all else, and this was the result. What Mehmed and Lada did—because of what they sent their hearts on with both people and land—was far worse than anything Radu’s love could ever lead him to do… His love had no evil in it.

Lada’s strength came from her unwavering ruthlessness, never showing vulnerability and her singleminded pursuit of her goals. But Radu’s strength came from the gentleness of his heart, his unwillingness to let the world shape into something cruel and cold, his ability to stay kind and retain the capacity to love in the face of everything.
Do not aim for greatness. Aim for goodness. And however you get there will be the right path for you, my sweet Radu.

The relationships and dynamics between all of the characters, whether familial, romantic or platonic—Lada and Nicolae (!!!) ; Radu and Nazira (!)—were so well-written, but I have to give a special mention to Radu, Nazira, Fatima and Cyprian’s found family. I just… love them so much.

Bright We Burn was everything I wanted and more*, and it now has a permanent place in my heart. I’m genuinely sad that this series is over but I’m excited to see what else Kiersten White comes up with.

*

// buddy read with jia and may ❣️
Profile Image for mich.
647 reviews229 followers
July 29, 2018
I feel. . . deflated.

If you're excited about reading this series finale and happen to see my rating, PLEASE CONTINUE TO BE EXCITED. Don't mind me, for real.

This book was fantastically written and I was immediately sucked right back into this world. (although I did re-read the prior books right before, so there wasn't a lot of catching up for me to do.)

But anyway. Spoilers.

Profile Image for jenn.
691 reviews312 followers
Want to read
July 10, 2018
WHY. IS. MY. BOOK. STILL. BEING SHIPPED.

I ORDERED THIS FUCKER TWO WEEKS AGO.

at least i get it tomorrow?

LOOK. AT. THIS. COVER.

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I need to get my ass in gear tbh ... I still haven't read NIR.
Profile Image for Justine.
243 reviews131 followers
July 14, 2018
This is a buddy read with the awesome Natalie Monroe!

This is as close to a perfect series finale as one could ever want or expect. Ever since Now I Rise, I've always felt this need to get my hands on Bright We Burn. The last book left us with a lot of unresolved subplots that demand immediate answers. White has structured Now I Rise in such a way that you are left with an intense desire to know more and all you can do is hope that your favorite characters find love, forgiveness and peace after all the horrifying events that took place (She did so well in fictionalizing the fall of Constantinople. It was a bloody, emotional ride and it felt like my heart was grabbed and dragged to an uncertain place).

The thing is, I never expected White to fail with Bright We Burn. And I Darken was a great set-up to future events and Now I Rise took the series to glorious heights. I know it can only get better from there. And I was right. But I never expected to be hit with so many emotions. I thought I was ready to part ways with the characters. But till now I am still haunted by this book . . . .

But first thing's first. Let's talk about the book objectively for now (before I descend with my feels). The story in Bright We Burn is basically a complex exploration of the aftermath of Constantinople's fall and Lada's ascent to the throne. Lada in Bright We Burn took on the role of a pseudo-Marxist warlord who wrecks havoc on her country's enemies while ensuring the common people are getting the proper treatment they deserve. Radu on the other hand has to deal with blood on his hands and the betrayal he did to people dear to him (specifically Cyprian, who happens to be the ultimate bro he found in NIR). Because of Radu's allegiance to Mehmed and Lada's vicious goal of ridding Wallachia of Ottoman influence, Bright We Burn is primarily a book exploring what happens before and after their inevitable collision course. If AID is primarily Lada's story while NIR is Radu's, Bright We Burn is a narrative that equally shows both of their viewpoints. It's about the impending war that would pit the siblings against each other and more importantly what comes after.

There are so many things to praise in this book really. The most noticeable of all is the level of tension and excitement coursing through White's narration. Every chapter had an incredible sense of urgency and excitement - I was gripped from page one till the end. White depicts Lada's war with Mehmed in such a stunning, pulse-pounding way that would make you feel anxious about every important character involved. I am so amazed by the sheer genius of White's characterization as well. As bodies pile-up and Lada becomes more and more vicious by courting death and spreading it on the ranks of the Ottoman empire, it becomes apparent that Lada is starting to shed off the anti-hero role and becoming a straight-up villain instead. White questions how far we can root for a murderer, psychopathic character who would commit petty, mass murders targeted at civilians and Ottoman soldiers just because her pride was hurt by Mehmed's betrayal. And that's the thing. I still cared for her anyway. Because as Lada descends to villainy, she reveals small pieces of humanity and vulnerability, most especially longing. Longing for his brother including love and affection from people who are dear to her. If we Juxtapose Lada's tough demeanor compared to what she really feels inside, you see a complex portrait of a young woman struggling with many things. And in the end, I sympathized with her anyway even if I was morally bothered by her actions.

As much as I love Lada though, I must admit that it was Radu who truly got me from beginning to end. I love everything about his chapters really. White carefully depicts all the struggles he feels and idk man, they just tugged at my heartstrings. From the guilt he feels for killing people in Constantinople to the constant longing for his real family in Cyprian and Nazira, everything about his character arc was sensitively portrayed and I have no words. White managed to transcend narrative limits and Radu made me not only understand what he felt, but also feel everything myself:

"He had been wrong. Time had taken even this from him , because with Mehmed's fingers tangled in his own, he remembered another finger tracing wounds on his hands. Gray eyes in place of dark ones. The love he had found when his first love had been lost."


But the mold he found himself longing for, the shape that felt truest, could not be formed. Because the people he wanted to form it around were lost to him. Maybe forever . . . He would stay in the city because Mehmed still shaped some part of him. But he could not become what Mehmed wanted or even needed him to. And he feared that a refining fire would reveal he had never been silver to begin with; he was simply dirt and impurities, burned away to ash while desperate to become something worth valuing"


Even minor character is also utilized well. All of them are lovingly characterized that you're just bound to care for most of them. Of course, Cyprian and Nazira take first place here obviously. They are the ray of light in an otherwise dark novel. Nicolae, the witty and caring soldier, also balances Lada's dark perspective and never fails to make the reader smile in every banter he engages in. Even Mehmed, a character we’re supposed to hate is portrayed in a different and arguably sympathetic light here. Basically, White doesn't write one dimensional characters and they are all humans in their own right who respond to conflicts in a nuanced manner. Even disregarding the sheer genius of characterization, everything is still of a high level from the gory yet rich world of Medieval Romania and the Ottomans to the writing which is simple, smooth flowing and filled with raw and powerful emotions. From a technical viewpoint, everything is pure genius here and way too good for anything less than 5 stars.

Now for my subjective and personal thoughts on some spoilery parts:



If you've read what's on the spoiler tag, you pretty much know that I'm drowning in feels at the moment. All I know is that I've never felt an array of emotions for a book like this in a long time. I felt everything from relief, sadness, joy and wanting to hear more of these characters' lives . . .

Slightly spoilery thoughts on the way the conclusion is handled:

So yeah, this review is pretty much a mishmash of all my thoughts and feelings on the book. At its current state, it's a little messy (but feels are always messy anyway lol) so it's a review under construction for months or even years to come as I read the series again and again. You are all free to talk to me regarding this series. Honestly, just please read these books. They might change your life too or your perspective of YA fantasy and historical fiction at the very least.
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