The highly anticipated, mind-blowing New York Times bestselling sequel to Kiersten White’s New York Times bestseller, AND I DARKEN—the series that reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire.
A SISTER FILLED WITH RAGE
Lada Dracul has no allies. No crown. 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 cross her. She storms the countryside with her men, but brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed, the defiant Ottoman sultan, brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.
HER BROTHER CAUGHT IN THE CROSSHAIRS
Lada needs the support of her diplomatic younger brother, Radu. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. And for the first time in his life, when Lada asks him for help, he refuses . . . leading his sister to make the darkest of choices.
THE ULTIMATE POWER PLAY
Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, Radu knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, would Mehmed ever forgive him?
As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.
Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN and Sabaa Tahir’s A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT won’t want to miss this riveting and gorgeously written novel—the second in the And I Darken series.
★ "Gorgeous, rich, and rewarding."—Booklist, starred review
★ "Absolutely devastating in the best way."—Kirkus, starred review
“A+, 5 knives.”—Amie Kaufman, New York Times bestselling co-author of the STARBOUND and ILLUMINAE FILES trilogies
“Fierce, epic, and crazy fun.”—Melissa Albert, New York Times bestselling author of THE HAZEL WOOD
A Teen Choice Book Award nominee!
Praise for And I Darken:
“A dark jewel of a story, one that gleams with fierce, cunning characters—absolutely riveting.” —Alexandra Bracken, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Passenger
“A dark, gritty, and seriously badass epic that will have you dying for more . . . required reading for every feminist fantasy fan.” —BuzzFeed
“Evocative . . . this book takes no prisoners.” —NPR
About the Author
KIERSTEN WHITE is the New York Times bestselling author of the And I Darken and Paranormalcy series, and many more novels. She lives with her family near the ocean in San Diego, which, in spite of its perfection, spurs her to dream of faraway places and even further away times.
Follow Kiersten at @kierstenwhite on Twitter and @authorkierstenwhite on Instagram.
Read an Excerpt
Hell was a party.
At least, Radu was fairly certain that whatever hell there was would certainly resemble this party.
Music drifted like perfume on the air, enough to sweeten but not overwhelm. Groups of musicians were scattered across the island; they could be glimpsed among the hardy green that had survived the winter months. Though the main meal would come later, blue-clad servants floated through the crowds with food-laden trays shaped like lily pads. On either side of the island, the Tunca River flowed leisurely by.
Whatever else he had been, Murad--Mehmed’s dead father and Radu’s onetime benefactor--had not been one to skimp on luxury. The harem complex he built on the island had been out of use since his death, but it had not faded in glory. The tiles gleamed. The carved stones of the walls promised luxury and peace. The fountains tinkled in cheery companionship with the surrounding river.
Radu wandered between buildings painted like geometric gardens, pulled along as surely as the course of the river. He knew it was useless, knew that it would not make him feel better. But still he looked.
And there--next to the bathhouse. Radu was drawn to him like a leaf spun on the river current. Mehmed wore his now-constant deep-purple robes and a swirling golden turban. A jeweled chain fastened a cloak around his broad shoulders. Radu tried to remember Mehmed’s full lips parting in a smile, his eyebrows rising in mirth rather than mockery. The two young men, both having finally finished growing, were the same tall, lean height. But lately Radu felt small when Mehmed looked at him.
He would have taken even that today. But Mehmed did not look his direction, immune to the connection Radu could not escape.
“Truly glorious,” Halil Vizier said to Mehmed, his hands on his hips as he looked up at the new bathhouse complex. Three connected buildings, with domed roofs echoing those of mosques, had been added in the past few months. They were the first new construction anticipating Mehmed’s grand palace complex. It would rival anything his father had ever built--anything anyone had ever built. To celebrate this investment in the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed had invited everyone who mattered.
Ambassadors from various European countries mingled freely with the Ottoman elite. Mehmed stood apart, but was free with his smiles and sweeping promises of future parties at his palace. Along with his usual attendants, he was joined by Ishak Pasha, one of his most powerful spahi; Kumal Pasha, Radu’s brother-in-law; and, as always, like a bitter taste that could not be swallowed, Halil Vizier.
Radu hated thinking of his old enemy Halil Pasha as Halil Vizier. He hated even more that it had been his own plan to put Halil in a place of trust and power to keep a closer eye on him. Maybe Lada had been right. Maybe they should have killed him. Things would be easier, or at least they would be more pleasant. That should be Radu’s place at Mehmed’s side.
As though sensing Radu’s poisonous envy, Halil Vizier looked at him. His mouth curled in a sneering smile. “Radu the Handsome,” he said. Radu frowned. He had not heard that title since the end of fighting in Albania, when Skanderberg, their foe, had coined it. Mehmed glanced over, then away as soon as their eyes met. Like a butterfly alighting on a flower and finding it lacking.
“Tell me,” Halil said, that nasty smile still on his bearded face. “Is your pretty wife aware this is not a functioning harem yet? I fear she has false hopes about entering it.”
The men around Halil snickered. Kumal frowned, then opened his mouth. Radu shook his head, a minute movement. Kumal looked sadly away. Mehmed did not acknowledge the insult--the implication that Radu’s wife would enter Mehmed’s harem to divorce Radu--but he did nothing to refute it, either.
“My wife is not--”
A gentle hand came down on Radu’s arm. He turned to find Nazira. Nazira, who was not supposed to be here. “His wife is not pleased with anyone else monopolizing his attention.” Beneath her translucent veil, her smile was far brighter than the winter sun. She wore the colors of springtime. Still, Radu felt cold looking at her. What was she doing?
Nazira turned Radu away from the men and led him down a path draped in more silk than most people would ever see in their lives. It was extravagant, excessive, absurd, like everything about this party. A reflection of a sultan too young and foolish to think of anything beyond appearances and his own pleasure.
“What are you doing here?” Radu whispered urgently.
“Come on a boat ride with me.”
“I cannot! I have to--”
“Endure mockery from Halil Vizier? Try to regain the favor of Mehmed? Radu, what has happened?” Nazira pulled him into the shadows of one of the buildings. To onlookers it would appear as though he were stealing a moment with his beautiful wife.
He gritted his teeth, looking at the wall above her head. “I have business.”
“Your business is my business. You do not write us, you never visit. I had to learn from Kumal that you have fallen out with Mehmed. What happened? Did you . . . does he know?” Her dark eyes were heavy with meaning, the weight of it too much for Radu.
“No! Of course not. I-- It is much more complicated than that.” He turned away, but she grabbed his wrist.
“Fortunately for you, I am very clever and can understand even the most complicated things. Tell me.”
Radu ran the fingers of his free hand along the edges of his turban, tugging at it. Nazira reached up, taking his fingers in her own. Her sharp eyes softened. “I worry about you.”
“You do not need to worry about me.”
“I do not worry because I need to. I worry because I care about you. I want to see you happy. And I do not think Edirne holds any happiness for you.” She emphasized Edirne, making it clear that it was not the capital she spoke of, but what--or rather, whom--that capital held.
“Nazira,” Radu hissed, “I cannot talk about this right now.”
He almost wished he could. He was desperate to talk to someone, anyone. But no one could help him with that problem. Radu wondered, sometimes, what Lazar could have told him if they had ever talked openly about what it meant for one man to love another. Lazar had been anything but discreet about his openness to something . . . more . . . with Radu. And Radu had rewarded Lazar’s loyalty and friendship with a knife. Now he had no one to talk to, to ask these desperate questions. It was wrong, was it not? For him to love this way?
But when Radu looked at Nazira and Fatima, he did not feel anything other than happiness that they had found each other. Their love was as pure and true as any he had ever observed. Thoughts like this made his mind turn around in circles upon itself, until not even prayer could calm it.
Radu looked down at Nazira’s hands on his. “The palace may not hold my happiness. But I cannot look anywhere else.”
Nazira released him with a sigh. “Will you come back with me? Spend some time at home? Fatima misses you. It might do you good to be away.”
“There is too much to do.”
“Too much dancing? Too many parties?” Her voice teased, but her eyes lacked an accompanying sparkle of sincerity. Her words stung him.
“You know I am more than that.”
“I do. I simply worry you might forget. You do not have to do this to yourself.”
“I am not doing it to myself, or for myself. I-- Damn. Damn, damn, damn.” Radu watched as a man in naval uniform--a sturdy cape, a tighter, smaller turban than the ones worn by ordinary soldiers, and a sash of Mehmed’s colors--walked past. He was accompanied by one of Halil Vizier’s trusted friends.
“What?” Nazira followed Radu’s gaze.
“I need to talk to that man. Without anyone else being able to hear. It is the only reason I am here.”
She was suddenly excited. “You do? Is he--” She raised her eyebrows suggestively.
“No! No. I just need to speak with him. In secret.”
Nazira’s smile turned into a thoughtful frown. “Can you be seen together?”
“Yes, but it cannot look like we met on purpose or are discussing anything of importance. I was hoping to find some quiet moment, but there are so many people here. He has not been alone since he came to the capital. Halil Vizier has seen to it.”
“Your party attendance is more complicated than I thought, then.”
Radu gritted his teeth. “Much.”
“Well, you are very fortunate you married so well.” Nazira put a hand on his arm and steered him onto the walkway. “Tell me about him.”
“His name is Suleiman, and he is the newly promoted admiral of the navy.”
Nazira laughed. “This will be easy.”
She danced effortlessly from group to group with a coy smile and a word of greeting for all. Radu was on the fringes of these parties lately, a contrast to when he had been a shining focal point. But with Nazira on his arm, more people were willing to stop for a moment of conversation. He craned his neck for a view of Suleiman. Nazira pinched his arm, hard.
“Patience,” she whispered.
After several more stops to chat with the uncle of her deceased father’s best friend, the cousin of Kumal’s deceased wife, and any number of other people Nazira treated with delight and deference regardless of their place in the Ottoman social hierarchy, they plowed directly into Suleiman. Somehow Nazira had managed to turn and walk so that Radu knocked the man over.
“Oh!” Nazira squeaked, putting her hands over her veiled mouth. “I am so sorry!”
Radu held out a hand to help the man up. They had never met before, but Suleiman’s eyes lingered on the boat-shaped gold pin on Radu’s cloak. “Please forgive me.”
“Of course.” Suleiman bowed. “I am Suleiman Baltoghlu.”
Radu bowed as well. “Radu.”
“Radu . . . ?” Suleiman paused expectantly.
“Simply Radu.” Radu’s smile was tight. Lada had left him behind under the mantle of the Draculesti family. But Radu had rejected his father’s name. He would not take it up again, ever. “This is my wife, Nazira.”
Suleiman took her hand, bowing even deeper. “They make wives prettier in Edirne than they do in Bursa.”
Nazira beamed. “That is because the wind blows too hard in harbor cities. The poor women there have to expend all their energy merely staying upright. There is no time left for being pretty.”
Suleiman laughed, a loud burst of sound that drew attention. But the attention was focused on him and Nazira, not on him and Radu.
“Tell me, what do you do in Bursa?” she asked.
“I am an admiral.”
“Boats! Oh, I adore boats. Look, did you see?” Nazira pointed to the collection of delicate boats bobbing in the river. They were carved in fanciful shapes. One had a prow like the head of a frog, and its oars had webbed feet carved into their ends. Another looked like a war galley, tiny decorative oars sticking out both its sides. “Radu is afraid if we take a boat out, he will not make it back to shore. But surely if we had an admiral with us . . .” Nazira looked up at Suleiman through her thick eyelashes.
“I am at your service.” Suleiman followed them to the dock, helping Nazira into a boat carved like a heron. A head on a slender neck pointed their way forward, and silk wings extended on either side. The tail was a canopy arching overhead to protect passengers from the sun, though it was not quite warm enough to be necessary.
“This is lovely!” Nazira sighed happily, leaning over to trail one hand in the water. Radu was not quite so pleased--he hated boats--but he shared a secret smile with Nazira. She had done his job for him.
Suleiman took the oars. Radu sat gingerly in the back of the small boat.
“I am going to chatter very brightly, waving my hands a lot,” Nazira said as they pulled away from the shore, and away from any prying ears. “In fact, I am going to talk the whole time, and you two will be unable to get a word in edgewise.”
She continued her one-sided conversation--a silent one. Her head bobbed up and down, she laughed, and her hands punctuated imaginary sentences. Any onlookers would see her entertaining Suleiman while Radu tried his best to keep his stomach.
“How soon can you build the new galleys?” Radu muttered, clutching the sides of the boat.
Suleiman shrugged like he was trying to loosen up his shoulders for rowing. “We can build ships as fast as he can fund them.”
“No one can know how many ships we really have.”
“We will build a few galleys in Bursa for show, so it looks like I am doing something. The rest will be built in secret, in a private shipyard along the Dardanelles. But I still need men. We can have all the ships in the world, but without trained sailors, they will be as much use as the boat we are in now.”
“How can we train that many men in secret?” Someone would notice if they conscripted men for a navy. A few new boats could be attributed to a foolish whim of an immature sultan. An armada, complete with the men to sail it, was another thing entirely.
“Give me the funds to hire Greek sailors, and I will give him the finest navy in the world,” Suleiman said.
“It will be done.” Radu leaned over the side, barely avoiding heaving.
Suleiman laughed at some new pantomime of Nazira’s. “Whatever you do, keep this one around. She is truly a treasure.”
This time Nazira’s laugh was real. “I am.”
Radu did not have to feign relief when Suleiman finished their loop around the island and pulled them back to the dock. He stumbled onto it, grateful for the solid wood beneath his feet.
“Your husband has a weak stomach,” Suleiman said as he helped Nazira out of the boat.
“Yes. It is a good thing he is so handsome.” Nazira patted Radu’s cheek, then waved prettily at Suleiman. “Our navy is in most capable hands!”
Suleiman laughed wryly. “My little bird boats will be the terror of the seas!” He bowed theatrically, then strode away.
“Thank you,” Radu said, letting Nazira take him back through the party, then into a secluded corner. They sat on a bench with their backs to the bathhouse wall. “That was brilliant.”
Excerpted from "Now I Rise"
Copyright © 2017 Kiersten White.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Children's Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
After finishing And I Darken, I immediately dove into Now I Rise. Lada, recently awarded the role of prince of Wallachia by Mehmed himself has embarked on a journey back to Tirgoviste, leaving Radu behind as Mehmed's singular focus, Constantinople, and a war with the Byzantines looms on the horizon. Radu is feeling both a little abandoned and more than a little ignored and even slightly skeptical of Mehmed, but still has an undying devotion to him. When a team of Byzantine ambassadors visits Edirne, Radu once again crosses paths with Cyprian, someone he'd met previously and who he felt a certain pull towards and this time, is pushed towards him. Things get a little spoilery here, so look out ... When things for Radu and Mehmed seem even worse, Mehmed asks the ultimate favor of Radu: Go to Constantinople, work as a spy as Mehmed prepares to go to war and be on the inside as a resource once the war arrives at the walls of the city. Unable to deny him this request, he and Nazira are forced to lie to Cyprian, begging for exile in Constantinople and flee into the night, bound for the city Mehmed is so desperate to ravage and take for his own, leaving Fatima, Nazira's wife (spiritually, that is, since Islam does not recognize the marriage between men and men and women and women) behind at their estate to keep her safe. Mehmed gives Radu all the free reign in the world to tell Constantine what their plans are -- that he knows of -- anything to ingratiate with the emperor. Cyprian graciously gives them a room in his home and as he is the nephew of Constantine himself, Radu immediately has Constantine's ear and divulges everything he knows. Meanwhile, in Wallachia, Lada is finding it much more difficult than she thought it would initially be to install herself as prince. So she resorts to other tactics -- mainly bloody ones or ones that involve property destruction. But a tide turns for her when she meets a farm full of women, many of whom are pregnant, and who were all abused by their boyar (the supposed nobility of Wallachia). And once she kills him, she gives the land to the peasant women -- and one joins her side. Another character from the past, Oana, Lada and Radu's nurse (and Bogdan's mother) is found and joins the caravan. Gradually, everywhere they go, they free more peasants, kill more boyars, and their caravan grows into a parade, made up of loyal followers to her and troops not just made up of her own, but those who swear their allegiance to her along the way. But at every turn, there is another man who she has to placate, for some reason or another, whether it's a leg up or for some other advantage. And every time she has to convince them that she is far better suited for things other than a marital alliance. There are a few interesting concepts that are explored throughout Now I Rise and a couple of those are ones that extend from its predecessor, And I Darken. First, the idea that a woman can be a leader -- the feminist message is even stronger in Now I Rise, especially given that Lada has bestowed land to peasant women. Lada doesn't just take up feminism for herself, but for those she intends to rule as well. It also examines the grey area between right and wrong, good and bad, righteous and evil. In this book, we see Lada take some extremes to get to the throne and get where she wants to go, including having all the heirs to the throne killed so that no one could challenge her rule. But we also see her goodness when s
Oh my. This book. I rate Now I Rise 4 stars instead of 5 like I did And I Darken because I really, really missed Lada, Radu, and Mehmed together. We got to see some Mehmed/Radu interaction and a cruel tease of Lada/Mehmed. Lada's chapters were much more enjoyable for me as her quest to the Wallachian throne was more interesting than Radu's spy activities in Constantinople. Also, Radu's perspective had so much war that sometimes it was difficult to make my way through them. However, I understand their significance to the narrative. The last exchange between brother and sister in this book has me extremely hyped for Bright We Burn! The stakes are high and I cannot wait for the three of them to be reunited and for shit to go down.
I just...am...Emotional™ after reading this. AND I DARKEN was fantastic, and NOW I RISE honestly just blew me away. Kiersten White's writing is spot-on, and the way she was able to develop not only Lada and Radu, but the side characters as well, was amazing. This book was so deep and rich and I loved every moment of it, especially the internal wars that Lada and Radu are both fighting throughout the novel. I'm currently bracing myself for BRIGHT WE BURN, because I think we've got a big storm comin' folks!
Why must I always be a man's servant?...If anything, I should be partners with the devil, not his servant." And with that one sentence I was reminded why I love Lada so much. She is a beyond amazing character, her drive, her fighter attitude and just the will to keep going until she gets what she wants and thinks she deserves. She is not a stand on the sidelines and wait for it to happen type she's making it happen. I'm sure I've mentioned it before, no doubt even in my review for the previous book And I Darken, but I kind of have a soft spot for badass ruthless characters that know what they want and do whatever it takes to get it. There are other characters in this book, they're there doing what they're doing. Mainly making me wonder how long until I get to go back to the Lada chapters. Really, I did enjoy Radu's journey also, his conflict between what he feels is right and what he believes. He's probably the only character that has grown with his experiences. I love this twist on history; it's books like this that leave we wanting to know more about the facts it's based on. For me they're gateways because when I discover an unknown topic I don't stop until I've gotten everything I can from it.
First, I want to say I have always been interested in Vlad the Impaler so when I first learned about And I Darken, I was a little iffy (but also very excited). The day I decided to read this series only made my life for the better because Now I Rise continues the story of Lada and Radu, and somehow is more interesting. Lada seeks her throne while Radu finds himself in an ever complicated position in Constantinople. The whirlwind of history that surrounds these characters is larger than life. It is incredible the stories our reality can weave for us. I feel blessed that Kiersten White went through the research to develop a story that allows me to have an incredible female character in the lead. Meanwhile, I am also sitting here chewing on my nails because I know what's going to happen, but I cannot wait for the third installment. I have a feeling the third is only going to be more incredible.
“She was a dragon. She was a prince, She was the only hope Wallachia had of ever prospering. And she would do whatever it took to get there.” In the continuing story of the Dracul family, Mohmed is using Radu as a spy in his take over of Constantinople, as Lada tries to figure out who her true allies are in her takeover of Wallachia. The story is told in such an interesting way, and the characters are so dynamic that it is easy to both love them and hate them with the turn of a page. I enjoy this series quite a bit and am giving this book 4 stars. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in books based loosely on history with a twist. Anyone who likes to consider social issues, such as feminism, and homosexuality set in a different time in history. Lada is a fierce woman who has fought for herself and her country from childhood and is always having to prove herself as being better than the men who have come before. Her brother Radu is soft hearted, and kind and torn by a love for a man who will not and cannot love him in return. This issues are addressed in such an interesting way and I feel like over all that is what makes this story so addictive.
Loved the book
I liked the first book, but I seriously LOVE this one. Why? Well, the characters are more developed, the world building is even more amazing and after starting the first chapter I was unable to stop reading. I was pulled into the history of Lada and Radu, and seeing how everything unfurled was so great. I hold my breath every time Lada attacked a village, trying to take what was rightfully hers. I was sad for Radu, every time he laid eyes on .... I was simply involved in the story and I highly recommend the book to everyone. This series is so worth giving a try! I chose to read this book and all opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased. Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House UK!
I'm so glad this didn't fall to the second book syndrome where the second book kinda leaves you hanging on and the third lets you down. This did not do that. This book kept me enthralled throughout the whole thing! Read this book! It's got girl power, it's got action, adventure and a lot of pining from the brother!
Now I Rise is of epic proportions, both in the size of the book and the amount of plot developments and character arcs in the book. While the story still continues in the alternate POV chapter style with Lada and Radu, we now see two different stories playing out. Lada is heading over to Wallachia's capital to claim the throne for herself, and declare herself Prince. In Edirne, Radu is Mehmed's silent right-hand man, who is still devotedly in love with him and his cause. Mehmed has set his eyes on Constantinople and much of Radu's story arc in this book concerns the fall of Constantinople in the hands of the Ottoman empire. (I do not consider this a spoiler, because historical fiction). Lada's main story arc in this book is finding out how far she will go to get Wallachia - how many people (that are not of her homeland) she will readily betray to achieve the title of Prince. Her motivation, while can be seen as a thirst of power, is more patriotic in nature. She does not want to see her country suffer at the hands of others, and wants to fix it. But you know what they say about roads leading to hell. She makes an unlikely alliance with a man she thought she hated, and grows to respect him. She kills innocents in her path to clear the way to her goal. What I am saying is, she is a morally grey anti-hero, who in history has been immortalized as a villain. So yeah, her development and the way she interacts with the people closest to her are not exactly healthy. Still, she has her loyal Janissary force, and most of all, Bogdan who is in love with her (and she knows it) and would do anything for her. (*weeps for the parallel between Bogdan and Radu*) Furthermore, even though she rejects her femininity (mostly because it is a disadvantage to her), it is not like she wants to be a man either. She gets further infuriated when everyone who meets her only sees her as an object to marry to get power, a vision that they soon regret when she dispels it with the masterful use of her knife. All she wants is to be treated as equal as any man, and in that there lies the feminism of her cause. She is cruel, yes, (I mean, she just kills anyone who doesn't agree with her) but she is also kind to those who deserve it, and my goodness, she is wonderfully complex and I am a little scared knowing what is to happen to her story. Radu, meanwhile, has a pretty significant story arc in this book. His belief in Mehmed's cause and his love are challenged when he is sent as a spy to Constantinople. Earlier seeing everything as a political machination which served the cause,he soon begin to learn that some prices are too much to bear. His stay in Constantinople, seeing the horrors and brutality of war and conquest with his own eyes, he starts to realize what the kingdom of men will do. He starts having doubts about his mission, on whose side he is really on and who deserves his loyalty and the city of Constantinople. He fights as much for Constantinople as he does against it, and ultimately he realizes how the people are the one who lose in war between kings. His faith in his religion is unwavering, but his love for Mehmed gets shaken by the things he goes through. I cannot mention Radu's arc while also mentioning Nazira. She is the best wife friend Radu could have, and honestly have a more healthy relationship than most of the romantic ones in this book. Their continued love and support for each other is truly beautiful, and the best part of the book.
AND I DARKEN was one of my favorite novels of 2016. I absolutely fell in love with the concept of a gender-swapped, anti-heroine take on Vlad the Impaler! That premise is, quite frankly, badass. And I found all the little nods to the Dracula mythos absolutely brilliant. I was thrilled to get to read an early copy of NOW I RISE as part of the blog tour, and this book certainly did not disappoint. I am absolutely addicted to this series and fascinated by the evolution of both Lada and Radu's characters. This book spends a lot more time in Radu's perspective than the previous book did, and it was so fascinating to observe his character arc throughout this novel and the struggles he is faced with in fitting in to his society, choosing sides between two warring nations despite split allegiances, and questioning his faith. I fell in love with Radu in book one and feel like he definitely stole the show in book two. While I would have liked just a bit more of Lada's perspective in this story, when we were in her POV, it was so fascinating watching her further develop into that iconic character of the impaler. I love the fact that even though Kiersten White does show some of Lada's more humanizing characteristics and weaknesses, she still absolutely reads like an anti-heroine. I feel like that is something that truly sets her character and this story apart. The first book covered a very large expanse of time and seemed to stay in the MG age for a large portion of the story. This second book is more focused on a shorter period of time and really zeroes in on these characters at a YA age. Honestly, I enjoyed both equally. I feel like the pacing in the first was a bit faster, because of how much material it covered, while in NOW I RISE the pacing is a bit slower, but you really get a lot more detail about the characters, setting, and political machinations. The amount of research that White puts into these books absolutely shines through the text. The historical events that White does feature in the story are immersive and feel like they could be very accurate representations of how things may have transpired. There were also some really powerful scenes with Mehmed in this book. I won't go into detail, so I can avoid spoilers, but his character is becoming more and more fascinating to me as the series progresses as well. I cannot wait for the next book to come out already. I am so excited to see more of Lada's character and where White takes this story from here.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Now I Rise by Kiersten White Book Two of the Conqueror's Saga Publisher: Delacorte Press Publication Date: June 27, 2017 Rating: 3 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley Summary (from Goodreads): 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 what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her. What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him? As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost. What I Liked: I feel similarly to the way I felt about And I Darken, which is good and bad. I gave And I Darken 3.5 stars, and ended up rounding up to 4 stars. I'm rounding down this time because I don't necessarily feel more positively about Now I Rise compared to how I felt about And I Darken. While I like these books, I don't really love them, and there are some things about them that I personally didn't enjoy. Factor in my mood - I have been putting off this book for months. Overall though, it's a decent sequel and it has me looking forward to reading the third book in the series. As with And I Darken, this book is written in third-person alternating POVs, switching from Radu to Lada for each chapter. Lada has left Mehmed - and Radu - and is determined to get back Wallachia, even if she is on her own. She has a company of loyal men who follow her, but she needs more support. She refuses to go crawling back to Mehmed. Meanwhile, Radu still serves Mehmed with stars in his eyes. He still holds onto the hope that Mehmed will love him as deeply as Radu loves Mehmed. But Mehmed's ambition comes between Mehmed and everything/everyone. His desire for Constantinople is more important, and he sends Radu to Constantinople to spy. The Ottomans are stronger and more numerous, and Radu is sure that the city will fall. But after months in the city, does he want the city to fall? Is he still unflinchingly loyal to Mehmed? He always wanted to be the Dracul sibling that Mehmed chose, but Mehmed has his own agenda, and it doesn't seem to involve Radu. Lada, on the other hand, is only looking to regain Wallachia, and does not care to involve herself in Mehmed's war. But even Wallachia is not safe, and not just from Mehmed. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)