PUBLISHER: Corgi/Delacorte Press
PUBLICATION DATE: 5th July (UK) 10th July (US) 2018
RATING: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
This is the third and final novel in The Conquerors’ Saga, also known as And I Darken, Now I Rise, and Bright We Burn. Instead of spoiling you with the synopsis of this book, I’ll give you the blurb for And I Darken:
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
First of all, I cannot believe I have this novel. For the first time, I took part in an ARC trade on Twitter. I was quite nervous, but I’d found an ARC of a well loved book in a charity shop that I thought someone else might like. In exchange, I managed to blag this beauty, all the way from the U.S.
I first started reading this series back in 2016, when I grabbed And I Darken for a fiver at YALC. I hadn’t heard much buzz about it, but I liked the cover and had yet to buy one from work (I worked in a bookstore). I found myself frustrated with the book at first; here are two characters who are raised the same but end up developing far different personalities that are constantly crashing into one another. I got annoyed at the decisions they made, at their devotion to places and people that did not deserve their love. I absolutely adored the setting, and ended up giving it four stars just to spite the characters, as if they knew what rating I had given them.
But then Now I Rise, the sequel, completely knocked me out.
Once again, the characters, my beloved, sweet, soft boy Radu and stabby, bloody heroine Lada were making wildly bad decisions but this time, I was rooting for them! They were both realising things about themselves that I was finally getting on board with. Radu was learning to love himself and focus on other things, on other people. He was forging a family of his own during a time of war, while his sister Lada was off building an army and carving her name into the corpses of every enemy she bested. It was fabulous!
And so of course, the big finale that is Bright We Burn is just as bloody, unforgiving, and (sometimes) infuriating. But above all, it was a chaotic and beautiful end to what is one of my favourite series to date.
What draws me in again and again with this series though is the setting. After reading City of Brass and this series, I’ve discovered that I love novels set in the middle east, or are middle eastern inspired. And I Darken is mainly set in Edirne and during the fall of Constantinople (now Istanbul) during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. And since this is historical fiction (loosely based on the rise of Vlad the Impaler), I can’t stop googling and learning about the history of Turkey.
Bright We Burn comes out at the beginning of July, which gives you plenty of time to grab copies of And I Darken and Now I Rise!