The highly anticipated, mind-blowing 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. 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 trilogy.
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.
4 to 4,5 stars
ARC kindly given by Random House Children Delacorte Press via Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest opinion
I fell maddly in love with “And I Darken”. I think Lada is a strong and very unconventional heroine that could inspire many little girls. I loved Radu and Mehmet as well even if I had some reservation about Mehmet (go see my review of “And I Darken”).
So I was beyond thrilled when Random House Children chose to grant my wish!
Now I can honestly say that I did not want to stop reading but I also don’t know what I should wish for the third book. This is very unusual as I always know what I want or hope to find in a sequel!
But her… her I’m puzzled as granting Mehmed and Lada some of their wishes is not what I thought it would be. I won’t give spoilers because you don’t spoil others fun but let’s just say that happiness does not always come from what you wanted most.
The book seemed to drag sometimes but that was just because I wanted to already know if they would have their wish come true. We alternate between Lada and Radu’s point of view. Both will do their best to reach their goal but it will take time! We’ll have the siege of Constantinople and a siege is a lasting affair! Especially when a city has such formidable walls. So of course we wait and wait and wait….Even if events happened during the siege I became impatient. I just wanted it to be over and see if Mehmed would succeed in his crazy move. Maybe he would just crash and burn?
Lada is headed to Wallachia with Mehmet‘s seal of approval. Much good it will do her! She has her men only. No one wants to ally with her. Her men aside no one takes her seriously because she is a woman.
“What, then, was left to her? She had no allies. She had no throne. She had no Mehmed, no Radu. She had only these sharp men and sharp knives and sharp dreams, and no way to make use of any of them. “
Countless times she’ll make an alliance or hope to just to be rebuffed or mocked. Here again time was passing by. I was all : “ Damn girl, kick their behind and prove them wrong already! Take the throne and rise!”
It made me realize that Lada and Mehmet are really alike. Both live for their dream. Both would sacrifice people to reach their goal. Both wants to lead and not just be a consort. Their ambitions known no limit. It’s a huge driving force.
Lada is resilient beyond anything and strongly determined to conquer HER land. She is still the Dracul, a dragon. She is not a lady. She is not a princess. She’ll never be someone’s wife and live in his shadow. She is Lada and she is enough.
I really, really admired her determination and strength. She knows what she wants and who she is.
It gave some fun moments as well when she was confronted with some feminine matters and was horrified by something most women relish in.
This sequel cemented my resentment and dislike for Mehmet. I know many feminine readers love Mehmet but I don’t. I think he is selfish and a manipulator. Lada can also manipulate people but it’s clumsier or even unconscious. Mehmet is a master manipulator. He would do anything to quench his thirst even sacrifice his most trusted friend.
Results: now I don’t wish Lada would end with Mehmet. And yet they’re not happy separate either. So I’m really puzzled.
Radu is playing a greater role in this second book. He will grow and question his dreams and wishes. As much as I dislike Mehmet I love Radu. I want him to find his happiness. And yet countless time I wanted to shake some sense in his handsome skull when I realized Mehmet was using him. Foolish Radu didn’t see it! He was naïve and devoted. Radu has a heart so big he could never lower himself to commit such atrocities as Mehmet and even Lada to some extent committed in this sequel.
For the first time in his life he’ll deny Lada’s unexpected call for help.
“And though she had never asked for Radu’s help growing up, he had helped her. He had worn away her edges, talked their way out of trouble she would have welcomed. Maybe … maybe she had always needed him. And he always chose Mehmed. Someone shouted his name, and he hurried back to his duties. His duties to his God. His duties to the Ottoman Empire. His duties to Mehmed. Lada would have to figure it out on her own. He owed her nothing. But the promise of the guilt he would carry if she died without his help clung to his skin like a shadow.”
Radu will be used, abused and betrayed. He will suffer great anguish torn in his loyalties for Mehmet for Lada for Constantine and his people. He thinks he owes Lada nothing and yet if she died when he rebuked he would never forgive himself. Lada and Mehmet never seem to carry much guilt for their past actions but Radu is plowing under guilt’s weight. He really is a good soul to his core.
From rather weak character he’ll grow up by the end of the book. He won’t know who he is anymore. He won’t know what to wish for.
Here are the lessons I learned reading this sequel:
-ambition won’t warm your bed neither your heart;
-it’s sometimes better to keep your dream a fantasy than to accomplish it whatever the cost;
-you’re enough. You don’t have to be someone else or play a role in your life. If you’re a girl in a men’s world you’re as worthy as they are (it’s now a common knowledge but not at the time of the book). If you’re gay you’re not a monster. You love “someone” not a gender. Again it’s now easier now in many countries than it was at the time of the story.
-you don’t buy loyalty or respect you earn it. Lada earned her men’s loyalty by her actions. And Mehmet lost loyalty by his actions too.
-as much as I don’t know where I want this story headed to (unusual for me) I know that I want Lada and Radu reunited.
So would I recommend this book? A thousand times yes! And I’ll wait for the third one with great curiosity as I really don’t know what choice Mrs White will make for her characters and her plot!
Convinced? Grab your copy HERE