Warning: The following contains spoilers for the first book in the series And I Darken.
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.
“Hold hands with the devil until you are both over the bridge.
Or kill the devil and burn the bridge so no one can get to you.”
AHHH I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. This book tore me TO PIECES! I liked the sequel even more than And I Darken.
If there were ever such a thing as a character driven stories, this is IT. Lada, Radu and Mehmed are such complex and imperfect characters that I go from wanting to hug them to wanting to strangle them to death. The main three characters have developed into such distinct personalities it’s a marvel of Kiersten White’s writing. She writes historical characters with a twist that’s fresh yet familiar.
Our Radu, Lada and Mehmed are no longer children, though all three of them still have the same goals in mind. From the first book, we know what they value above all else: Lada will always choose Wallachia, Mehmed will always choose Constantinople and Radu will always choose Mehmed. In Now I Rise we see how their desires play out and how their goals affect their decisions – politically and emotionally.
If I thought I disliked Mehmed in the first book, I downright hated him in this one. He cares about both Dracul siblings but it’s clear he doesn’t care about either one as much as he cares about being the Sultan who expands the Ottomans towards Constantinople. I never understood his desire to conquer Constantinople, his reasoning is questionable and his means to his goal is even more so.
Lada is more brutal and ruthless as ever. Her and her soldiers are parading through the countryside trying to get to Wallachia’s throne. Lada doesn’t know how to get to the throne, she was never one for politics, all she knows is that she wants it. She finds an unlikely ally in the man who killed her father. Lada was my least favorite out of the three in the first book but became my favorite in this one. Lada never pretends to be someone she isn’t, she is fierce and violent and she gets things done with brutal force. After all the mind games Radu and Mehmed were playing in the book, Lada’s chapters felt honest and refreshing.
Radu is getting on my nerves. I understand he’s in love with Mehmed but there should be a line that you know not to cross. His blind devotion to Mehmed annoyed me for most of the book especially since so many innocent people are now suffering because of it.
And yes the main three are great characters but do you know who took me completely by surprise? Nazira. I’m SO GLAD Nazira had such a strong presence in this book because I was dying to learn more about her after And I Darken. She is kind, caring while being strong and sly, and she’s also crazy smart and resourceful. She’s everything I look for in a character.
Cyprian is also a character I quickly became very fond of. He is generous and opened up his home to Radu and Nazira. He basically provides Radu an opportunity to spy on the Ottomans from the heart of their city. Poor Cyprian deserves better.