Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Now I Rise

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada 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...

Title:Now I Rise
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0553522353
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:496 pages

Now I Rise Reviews

  • Emily May
    Apr 23, 2016

    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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  • Destini Mia~ ♕ Sassy Lassie
    May 25, 2016
  • Simona Bartolotta
    Oct 12, 2016

    •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*

  • Silvia ⚓
    Oct 12, 2016

    Hi, it is I, currently in a reading slump, who just received the ARC of this book, which one DEFINITELY shouldn't try to read while in a reading slump :)) Also guess who loved book 1 but doesn't remember a single thing about it :))) thank god for recaps online.

    THAT COVER. Can I just tape it on the inside of my eyelids? *want want want*

  • Elise (The Bookish Actress)
    Nov 20, 2016

    **This review will contain minor spoilers throughout, with any major spoilers tagged.

    EDIT: I'd ask anyone who wants even more detail on this book to read

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

    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.

    **This review will contain minor spoilers throughout, with any major spoilers tagged.

    EDIT: I'd ask anyone who wants even more detail on this book to read

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

    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,

    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.

    This was truly an incredible book, and I can't wait to see where the plot goes next.

    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".

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    Oct 25, 2016
  • Nastassja
    Apr 23, 2017

    Reading

    was not an easy experience for me, but

    doubles it in intensity and heartbreak. When you have to chose between people you love and right and wrong, things get very messy. There’s no white or black, everything’s gray and painful.

    Once again

    immerses

    Reading

    was not an easy experience for me, but

    doubles it in intensity and heartbreak. When you have to chose between people you love and right and wrong, things get very messy. There’s no white or black, everything’s gray and painful.

    Once again

    immerses us into the history

    and she does it with style. She lets us observe the events without intervening, without imposing her opinion on readers, but simply letting us choose what side we’d prefer. I am not very good with history, but this book (and the previous one) made we want to know more about this period of time, to learn about real historical figures who are main characters in this series. Granted, the author is more frivolous with historical events in book 2 than she was in book 1, but still you won’t miss out on major events and dates, which author describes with diligence. But no, all of it is secondary and unimportant compared to characters.

    We will never know what real Lada (Vlad), Radu or Mehmed thought, how close or distant they were to each other, but reading Kiersten White’s version of these people made we believe this is exactly how they were in real life, how they thought and lived. It’s not about truth or lies, it’s about a soul.

    In And I Darken Lada, doubtless, was the star of the book. A fierce girl who wanted to go home and make everything better. Lada was brutal but also naïve and that made her so human, so vulnerable. In this book… I don’t know what happened to Lada, but she became almost unbearable. Her obsession with

    bordered on madness and foolishness. She was like a broken record player stuck at the same note in a song. Maybe it’s how things should be and Lada’s slowly turning into a ruthless monster is what it is suppose to be, but my heart hurt no mater what, because I got attached to these characters, and

    . She doesn’t fight her inner demons any longer, she embraces them and her conscience is barely bothered with her cruelty. Lada still doubts and regrets things, but there’s getting less and less things to regret for her.

    His struggles were so real, so humane, so heartbreaking I wanted to cry. In this part he finds himself in the situation when friends become strangers and enemies become friends. He no longer knows what is right or wrong, but

    . He doesn’t want to embrace his dark side, he struggles with his inner demons. And I loved Radu for it, because he reminded me of myself and, doubtless, many other people who ever found themselves in a situation when they wanted to do the right thing but didn’t know how.

    . Plus, I really loved that finally Radu met someone deserving him, unlike Mehmed whom Radu always loved but who would never love him back.

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

    Of course, I cannot not mention

    . Lada and Radu do not meet in this book. Not once. But they think about each other a lot.

    It helps them to do something less ruthless (in the case of Lada), or embrace oneself for something ruthless (in the case of Radu). It breaks my heart thinking that their story would not end well, and there’s a possibility when one of them would have to kill the other. See, this is why this series is so hard to read, because even when you love someone you still might betray them.

    Kiersten's writing is superb as ever, plus

    It played a great role in book 1 as well, but in this one the game is upped and religion has taken the front seat. We all know that people were ready to do monstrous things because God "said" them to do it. But everything was always about ambition and power, and religion was and

    a great instrument to level and manipulate opponents. Both

    call the other infidels, but in reality there’s no such thing - only fighting for superiority. And Radu is in the center of that fight, and he sees what righteousness can do to good people, turning them into monsters. There's no good people on this side of the wall, as there's no good people on the other side, as well.

    >> You haven't yet started

    ? You are missing a lot on something deliciously vicious.

    You want the history of 15th century

    and

    ? You want to witness the fall of

    ? You want siblings relationship? You want

    ascension?

    I promise, you won't regret it.

  • Lola  Reviewer
    Jun 16, 2017

    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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