Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Now I Rise

She has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself.After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada Dracul is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada wh...

Title:Now I Rise
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0553522353
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:471 pages

Now I Rise Reviews

  • Emily May

    That was AWESOME. I guess it's my "western" ignorance that keeps me thinking of this series as fantasy. It

    , to me at least, like fantasy. And yet, both

    and

    are

    That was AWESOME. I guess it's my "western" ignorance that keeps me thinking of this series as fantasy. It

    , to me at least, like fantasy. And yet, both

    and

    are

    .

    I love this reimagining of Vlad the Impaler as a woman called Lada. I love that Lada is allowed to be every bit as mean and bloodthirsty as Vlad, but also, somehow,

    . Well, from me anyway. She stands out as one of my favourite characters from all the YA series I've read in recent years, reminding me somewhat of Adelina from

    , but she's much nastier than that.

    This book is - in short - about the fall of Constantinople and Lada's reclamation of Wallachia (you should read the actual history of this, if you're unfamiliar; it is

    ). It is split into two stories that rarely meet, but both are

    .

    Radu is working as an insider within Constantinople and reporting to Mehmed, but the handsome young Cyprian makes him start to wonder where his true loyalties lie. I love the moral conflicts of Radu's character, and the lessons he learns about life and love along the way. Lada, on the other hand, is

    . She must fight against all the male nobles and soldiers who dismiss her because of her sex, and she is torn between playing by their rules to gain an advantage, and saying "screw it!" and doing her own damn thing. She doesn't disappoint.

    I was also pleasantly surprised by the funny banter between Lada and her loyal soldier boys on the road:

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

    Look, I wouldn't come searching for historical accuracy in this series, but if you are looking for some

    -- I cannot recommend these books highly enough.

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  • Simona Bartolotta

    •Last year, I adored

    . I think its publication was a true event;

    . Kiersten White had clearly meant her story to stand out as

    , and she succeeded gloriously. Just the fact that her heroine didn’t put love above anything else was impossibly refreshing; the two male protagonists were so

    •Last year, I adored

    . I think its publication was a true event;

    . Kiersten White had clearly meant her story to stand out as

    , and she succeeded gloriously. Just the fact that her heroine didn’t put love above anything else was impossibly refreshing; the two male protagonists were so faceted and fleshed-out, I sometimes wondered at their not bursting out of the two-dimensional page; and the moral greyness of all three of them, paired up with the harshness and the violence of the world they moved in, made me think often of

    .

    In few words,

    . And I would have been satisfied with Kiersten White just confirming all the work she had done in that book, even without any real improvement. Meaning: I am a fool. Because

    .

    Oh, what am I saying? She took all the good things she had put in book one, worked some magic, and the level of the whole series skyrocketed. If the third installment is anything akin to these two books, the Conqueror’s Saga is bound to become a favorite of mine.

    But I’ve blabbered enough; you’re here for a review, and a review I’ll deliver.

    •The book follows

    , each of them either struggling with their demons, fighting for their dreams, and sometimes both at once.

    (since she is the one mostly on the road) than Radu’s, and for me it was also slightly less engaging,

    in a direction that is as frightening as, to YA readers used to ponies and rainbows, it is unexpected.

    No one is going to be surprised if I say that

    . What is probably going to make you wrinkle your nose is that I see in her as much steadfastness and commitment as fear.

    .

    White, indeed, in this book added to her characterization a great many nuances strongly linked to

    . The truth is that if Lada could, she would be neither, man nor woman: she is honest when she says that

    no matter how

    her body and sexuality in general can make her, but, on the other hand

    . Her relationship with Mehmed is masterfully

    , and I love White for giving their romance a narrative purpose, instead of doing the opposite, as it happens more and more often, and bending every other thing to it.

    , too, which she constantly mentions also metaphorically, is

    , not to mention more obvious hints like her title –Prince– or her refusal to be dressed up like a doll.

    Moreover, her being so viscerally attached to her homeland almost brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes this feeling is concretized in physical elements of the landscape, and those passages stole my breath.

    •My second point about Lada’s plotline concerns

    . I think

    .

    , for instance, are hardly recurring presences, but their personalities are perfectly outlined in very few but very skilled strokes. (Daciana, besides, is a stunning female character, and she deserves a whole paragraph only to her praise, but this review is already way too long as it is, so I'll pass.) The same can be said for

    (I love you, Hunyadi! I love you!), whom Lada puts in direct contrast and comparison with her late father, to the point that she outright tells him –

    As for

    ,

    is more or less the only one who stands out, if we consider that, after all,

    and

    ; thus, Nicolae stands for the Janissaries. And

    , well, he hardly speaks in the whole book: it’s complimentary to say that he is a puppet. When I noticed his flatness in

    , I considered it a flaw, and a very annoying one at that, but I’ve come to think that if White wanted him fleshed-out, she would have fleshed him out with little effort. I think, now, that his character is so bland because Lada does not see him, just as she doesn’t see who doesn’t interest her:

    , too power-driven, too angry with the male half of humanity (her problems would basically be gone if she were a man, but she still would rather choose androgyny)

    (I think Nazira’s observations on her and Mehmed were eerily on-point about this). What she treasures, in her own lucid way, in Bogdan, is his loyalty: the only thing she notices in him is his loyalty. You see how,

    .

    It’s astonishing how

    can turn out to be an important piece of a wider picture if we only think about it.

    •And now,

    . As I said, his side of the story is more engaging than Lada’s, and surely way more

    too. If I were a tiny bit more dramatic than I am, I’d say it’s

    . Let’s settle for

    then.

    I don’t think I know another YA author who is so skilled at staging

    of the world: in White’s mind, nothing is all white or all black, and Radu’s perspective show it perfectly.

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

    and

    are exactly like Radu, i. e., too precious for this world.

    , and it’s lovely and reassuring, how their love for each other can warm the bleakest moments of the story. On the other hand, it was a masterstroke on the author part to give Nazira that touch of, if not cruelty, then need for revenge towards the Byzantines—she would have come off as too pristine otherwise.

    If Nazira was my present hope, sweet, charming Cyprian is all my future one —

    .

    •A part from Radu’s sorry fate, what is truly unbearable in witness him witnessing Mehmed’s war crimes and the horrors of war, or, as he himself puts is, the

    Radu’s process of disillusionment is, as I see it,

    : it’s what monopolizes the reader’s attention and what best focuses his sympathy and emotional involvement.

    was Lada’s book, but

    is unarguably Radu’s, and he takes over the role of true protagonist with no difficulty whatsoever. His moments of doubt, or the ones when he realizes both sides are engaging in unspeakable cruelties and that taking one over the other is not nearly as easy as it was before, are written so as to make them as

    as possible,

    through tiny, clandestine holes the author had opened for us, which only adds to our torment, but also to our commitment.

    •Lastly, in case it still wasn’t clear, I only want to say that

    and I applaud her not only for her creative work, but also for all the

    a book like this requires –speaking of which, the only reason this series is labeled as

    is that it’s a

    , but there’s no magic or anything like that in it.

    is, in brief,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    ,

    and

    at once. I don’t know how I am supposed to wait so long until the conclusion and I know I’ll be unhealthily obsessed but this story and, above all, these character until next summer (and possibly after that too, but at least the wait will be over).

    If you still haven’t, for your own good, readers, go catch up with this series now. You’ll see you’ll thank me.

    *All the quotes are taken from an ARC and are subject to change*

  • Elise (thebookishactress on wordpress)

    Book one was fine, but

    . I love everything about Radu's storyline.

    was a well-written and developed book, but I had mixed feelings on the romance and wanted a bit more in the character department. I did not expect either aspect to improve.

    It's not often a sequel can surpass my expectations so much, but this sequel is undeniab

    Book one was fine, but

    . I love everything about Radu's storyline.

    was a well-written and developed book, but I had mixed feelings on the romance and wanted a bit more in the character department. I did not expect either aspect to improve.

    It's not often a sequel can surpass my expectations so much, but this sequel is undeniably better than book one.

    doesn't get any less fierce during this book; in fact,

    Yet she's not heartless; she has some very compelling relationship development with several side characters. While she just doesn't have as far to go in terms of development, I still enjoyed her journey and conflict over duty to family.

    And then there's Radu, who I didn't particularly care for in the first book. Here, though, he got an INCREDIBLE character arc. I am still reeling from this character arc.

    Radu's inner debate over which side truly deserves to win Constantinople really stands out throughout the book, in both his internal and external conflict. It's incredibly difficult to write characters on both sides of the fence, but White executed it brilliantly.

    Possibly my favorite aspect of the character work were the complex side characters. There are some GREAT new side characters as well, from Nicolae to Nazira (my absolute wife) to Cyprian.

    None of them are one-dimensional; they all feel so REAL. Even my least favorite side characters never felt like plot devices. They're all morally ambiguous and they're all interesting.

    I want to give Nazira an entire extra paragraph, because she's truly worth it. What a fantastically developed character;

    at the same time.

    I have to say,

    It is really hard to find such strong and developed platonic friendships in YA. I loved how many characters made comments about how they clearly love each other, but without passion. They're two people who don't always trust others, but they are always so real with each other. And of course, their banter killed me and knocked me into the ground, where I'm still lying full of feelings. I care about their friendship even more than any of the romantic relationships in this book.

    There's some great relationship development in this book, too. Lada and Radu and Mehmed's relationships with each other are of course still significant, but the new relationships introduced really stand out. Again, let me mention how much I love Nazira and Radu. But there are so many more! Lada and her many soldiers, Lada and a mentor she finds,

    . But let's be real here:

    were the absolute crowning gem, with so many heartbreaking moments and

    But don't worry,

    I also LOVE the themes of Radu's section. Everything said about hate, about religion, is so fucking on point and I love it.

    And all the themes about religion and its role. This series is just so good at discussing religion in a non-offensive way.

    The one issue with this book is that Lada's actual plotline is slightly less entertaining in comparison to Radu's.

    Part of this may be that

    Lada's arc here is slightly more external, where Radu's is both external and internal. It's not much of an issue, though; Lada's chapters would probably be my favorites in any other book. She's still so effortlessly compelling if only through her character development and her badassery.

    I love the emphasis here on working through internalized misogyny. I'd ask anyone who wants even more detail on this aspect to read

    . I couldn't agree more with everything she says.

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

    This was truly an incredible book, and I can't wait to see where the plot goes next. Please, let Radu and Cyprian and Nazira be okay.

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    • I wanted to give a mini shoutout to Kiersten White for guaranteeing that

    . It's a really great guarantee to hear from an author in an environment where my immediate reaction to Nazira and Fatima's existence is "they're going to die, aren't they".

    • 6/29 update: what if I just... bought a copy and reread this book right as we speak...

    fuck I just picked a random page and now we're doing this I guess and I'm near tears already

    • I pulled every one of my quotes from this fifteen-page interval that's how good this book is

    • (323) hoo boy the imagery of Nazira and Radu in that church is... a lot

    • (331) “the only thing Radu was certain of anymore... was that Nazira would make it out alive” THERE THEY ARE MY FAVORITE FRIENDSHIP IN ALL OF YA

    • (336) “at least I will have good company in hell” LISTEN GOOD GOD CAN CYPRIAN AND RADU STOP

    • (342) this entire scene is A Scene holy god it shook me

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin

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

    Okay, so I freaking

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

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

    Anyhoo, Lada is off trying to get her throne of Wall

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

    Okay, so I freaking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Take that b•tches!

    MY BLOG:

  • maybelline ⚓

    IS THAT HOW ITS GOING TO END???? JUST LIKE THAT ????

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

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

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

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

    attempt #2:

    hoping this time ill be able to get into it

    with mah big sis,

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

    oh my

    IS THAT HOW ITS GOING TO END???? JUST LIKE THAT ????

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

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

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

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

    attempt #2:

    hoping this time ill be able to get into it

    with mah big sis,

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

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

  • Candace

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

    However, I am sad to say that I didn't get the same pleasure from reading 'Now I Rise'. It was like this book came along a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Check out more of my reviews at

  • kazzy boy ⚓

    and to your right, you can see me, clearly still recovering from the jet lag of reading this book

    you know when you stay up all night reading and the caffeine starts to wear off and suddenly you’re lying face down on your bed like a dried clementine with zero sense of space or time??

    and i'm still waiting for someone to mistake my ey

    and to your right, you can see me, clearly still recovering from the jet lag of reading this book

    you know when you stay up all night reading and the caffeine starts to wear off and suddenly you’re lying face down on your bed like a dried clementine with zero sense of space or time??

    and i'm still waiting for someone to mistake my eyebags for their backpack and carry me home

    i wish you could like, carve your feelings into trees deep in the forest miles away from civilization where no one will ever find them because my feels™ bag is overflowing and i feel like i’ve been dragged across the entire universe but the universe was made of rocks and spikes and fire. i'm like a pear damaged during transportation and i think i deserve an oscar for acting like i'm not actually falling apart after that motherfucking

    took

    by the throat and smashed it through a wall.

    and honestly, i love this book so much i could fit a five bedroom house with a conservatory and parking space in my heart, you can't even fathom this much love.

    and

    are so lovable that you would be willing to perform demonic blood rituals if it would somehow make them real

    i have 99 things to say about this book but 98 of them are spoilery, so i'll just say this: if you haven't read

    , dude...

    .

    the first book was good, this book was great and there are two more books in this series and the way things wrapped up in this sequel was the equivalent of having 1000 daggers stabbed into my heart........ like

    PLEASE NO MORE CONFLICTS ANYMORE THE NEXT BOOKS SHOULD JUST BE ABOUT THE MAIN CHARACTERS HAVING PROGRESSIVELY NICER THINGS HAPPEN TO THEM OKAY? OKAY

    thank you

    's a grounded cosmic star and i'm ready to fistfight the fucking moon for his goddamn happiness. he's a literal ethereal being with angel like characteristics, an actual ray of sunshine, a real life moonbeam, flowers probably blossom in his presence and birds sing in his honour and the tide pulls in touching the ground he’s on and he also probably gives off the vibe to all animals that he's their ally and friend

    listen. i dont think you understand how much i love

    characters who are sometimes hardcore, sometimes a precious forest child, sometimes a celestial being made of starlight and constellations and kindness and then suddenly

    okay but just allow my heart to break into a million pieces for radu right about now because the character development he's endured is so heartbreakingly amazing. it was such an experience to see him slowly realize that lack of communication and misplaced hope makes the heart idealize a person and distort your perception of them into thinking that they are something greater than they really are. well, this is about radu ascertaining that mehmed ain't shit. he doesn't care. and neither should he. AND IT WAS ABOUT DAMN TIME.

    anyway, i’m so protective of radu that i'm willing go cut somebody off for simply having the wrong energy towards him and

    also, can we talk about

    ?? i love him so much, he's the personification of kindness and this ship will be my very end. my heart would break down sobbing on the floor if it could. honestly though this has the potential to be so fuckign epic and i can't wait!!

    i love

    for destroying the ‘women are delicate angels’ myth by proving time and time again that women can be ruthless and strong and sometimes, even

    .

    i love that it wasn't her job to shape or mold a man or to convince him of her worth or stand back while he takes the reins. and mostly i love the fact that

    , delicate but can still kill people.

    like you know how some people put up walls?? lada is a bit more dramatic and over the top so she has to put up innumerable walls into a maze surrounded by a moat guarded by forgotten mythology creatures.

    ...she's the spiritual embodiment of the heart eyes emoji disguised as sunglasses emoji because once you pierce through her chill exterior, you find a lot of love (for her country, especially. for her soldiers and friends. and for her little brother, radu.)

    also, i've seen a lot of reviewers react to lada with so much venom?? and while i realize that everyone is entitled to have whatever feelings they want about the characters they read about... i can't help but wonder if they despise her because she won’t back down or give up?? or because she won't stand back and suffer silently?? is it because she doesn't conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female and is even a kind of rorschach test for society and a measure of our attitudes toward gender?? i just think this has a lot to do with our perception of women because i'm pretty sure if it were a male character who was this "ruthless" and "cruel" and "unforgiven", nobody would bat an eyelid 💁

    nazira is very literally the spiritual equivalent of 300 angels in a choir walking amongst plebeians, she's a pink heart emoji with angel wings and i love her so much that only 4 letters doesn't suffice.

    i'm working towards getting larger muscles so i can protect her and fatima!!

  • Lola  Reviewer

    Too often I read YA fantasy series that make me ask myself, ‘‘Why am I reading this book? What is the purpose of this story? Haven’t I read something similar recently?’’ But with this particular series, the purpose is clear.

    Lada wants to be Prince of Wallachia. She will stop at nothing to achieve her goal. She will destroy anything and anyone t

    Too often I read YA fantasy series that make me ask myself, ‘‘Why am I reading this book? What is the purpose of this story? Haven’t I read something similar recently?’’ But with this particular series, the purpose is clear.

    Lada wants to be Prince of Wallachia. She will stop at nothing to achieve her goal. She will destroy anything and anyone that gets in her way. There’s nothing I love more than a determined character. It makes me feel invested in the story. Lada is someone to be both admired and feared.

    Even when I thought about halting my reading, I couldn’t do that for long. I needed to know if Lada would succeed. Although this is a historical series—not fantasy!—as it’s based on true events, I am unfamiliar with Romanian history. (A shame, really, since I was born there.) So thinking about the fact that what I’m reading is also instructive and realistic sparked my interest. Burst it, really.

    Radu and Lada are separated for the entire novel. Lada is gathering allies and Radu becomes Mehmed’s spy. The ugly Mehmed. He’s back. He isn’t ugly exactly—but he’s awful. If you hated him in the first book, you will want to strangle him now.

    The separation is truly felt. Both characters are affected by it and so is the reader. Radu and Lada together are quite something. But at the same time, they are getting older and their futures are getting blurrier. They need to make sure they know where they’re going and how to get there.

    New characters are introduced. Some allies, some enemies, some somewhere in between. I adored that. Not knowing if someone can be fully trusted spices my reading experience. I liked wondering about people’s intentions and worrying for the protagonists and holding my breath when danger came.

    Just like the first book, it took me a few chapters to get into the story. I forgot how the first book ended, so I was confused at first. But the beauty is that even if the story is not written from the first person point of view, it still feels as though we’re reading Lada and Radu’s inner thoughts, making it easier to know what they’re thinking and how they perceive everything that is happening.

    It's so unfortunate this isn’t a TV series. It would be such a winner in my opinion. Plus I would just love to see a kick-ass Lada on screen. Something between a Lara Croft and a Cersei Lannister. Cannot wait for the last book. So sad… last book. Why must it end?

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