(Conqueror's Saga, #1)
by Kiersten White
Published: July 7, 2016
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.
Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.
Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.
The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she'll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.
I've read most of Kiersten White's books and really liked, if not loved, them. That alone is enough to make me read any of her future books. When I learned that her latest release, And I Darken, is about a female Vlad the Impaler... there was no way I wasn't picking it up.
Practically everyone who have read it says this book is brutal, and epic, and bloody. Well, they're right. But I went into this book expecting certain things that I did not find. First, And I Darken is purely historical fiction with no paranormal aspects in it whatsoever. I was also expecting a lot of fight scenes in a VERY graphic sense, which this book is generally not so much. Despite that, I still think this is Kiersten White's best book (that I have read) so far.
It follows the story not only of Lada but also her younger brother, Radu, from their birth until they met their friend Mehmed and things got bloodier. Lada since childhood was fierce, cold, and cruel. She learned early on to be calculating and guarded while his brother was her complete opposite. Where Lada is vicious, Radu is sweet and charming -- always left behind, unnoticed. These two could never be more different but the way their characters were told, including Mehmed, are just too precious my heart can't take it. Seriously, for all their faults, imperfections, and weaknesses... I loved them.
And I Darken is heavy on politics and there is also plenty of religion involved, told in an impartial way that made me appreciate this book more. I can't remember much about the historical events surrounding the real Vlad the Impaler so I can't compare but basing on the author's note at the end of the book, she'd taken liberties breathing a new life into the story and fashion it in a way that, for me, has worked. This book is very well-written and is such a compelling read. My emotions were a mess in the end. I cannot wait to see what happens next.
*A copy of this book was sent by SocialBookCo for review.