This was worth every cent that I spent on it. I bought this book, becoming way too anxious to try and reserve it instead. And this was totally worth it, worth all the money. And like the first book, except that everything gets darker, murkier and even more brutal.
While the first book was Lada’s story, even though here she still has a lot of story to go. But it goes to Radu, Radu who went through hell, Radu who was caught so in between two worlds. Radu who was beginning to doubt his own alliances. And this was why it is his. The slow development, his sympathy, his emotions and slowly his disillusionment; it was all well portrayed.
The way that he began to doubt, began to wonder. The way that he eventually saw the things he needed to pay, it was all so painful for Radu. All so painful for me to read. He was the one who always fought for the truth, he isn’t without his own loyalties, his own moralities but it all comes to be a balance here. And this quote was perfect to describe it:
How many ways could a man turn traitor in his lifetime?
Lada’s slow evolution to becoming the Impaler, was exactly what I expected to see. Eventually, it was going down this route. She begans to fight less and less from her own inner demons, and begins to give in. She is cruel, but at the same time, I could say almost anyone would admire her for what she did. The means justifies the end, she killed all of them to have a stronger Wallachia. And she never wavered from it.
Even if she is cruel, for me, I always liked it. I always understood her, I still continued to sympathise with her. Even though she is in a downward spiral, she will become the monster that Vlad the Impaler was, and this book showed it. The steps she took, all for a noble goal, but she is allowed to be nasty and at the same time, she is doing what she can.
And most importantly, she is doing it on her terms. Even when she is a woman, even when she is basically nothing. And her obsession and devotion to Wallachia, it was something that I feel was real. She wanted to rebuild it, and this book will justify the monster she becomes just for her own country.
As for her own sexuality, she should be asexual, end of story. Because she is too arrogant, and too angry with men to be one. And the way that the romance had a part to play in her, the way that she chose not to ever dress up. She doesn’t like playing by anyone’s rules, and sometimes she constantly wonders whether she has too. Even when they prove to be utterly useless and dangerous to them instead.
And she would do it all for Wallachia. Whether it means destroying it completely and building it from the rubble, or killing so many. She is afraid of losing power, and she is afraid to be at anyone’s mercy. The way that she didn’t want to be Mehmed’s Empress, the way she didn’t want to forge alliances and play by the rules. Because she doesn’t want to trust them; she believes she cannot trust them. And this is why I loved her. So many reasons, and an actual female protagonist who although hasn’t find her feminity, but is balanced out by the other female influences here.
As for her own quote:
She never stopped being that girl lost in a place where she could never have power
As for the side characters, Nazira stood out, so did Daciana. The way Nazira helped Radu, was important to it in so many ways. The way that she was so much more than a wife, and she was real. She loved, she hated. And that was why I like her, she is never afraid to take opportunities, she is never afraid to move forward. As for Daciana, being a peasant, and managing to terrify Janissaries instead, and even find Lada. She was brilliant, she was strong. And she is tough. She knew who to find, and I liked her because of it.
As for the character who are simply too good for this world, is Cyprian. Despite it all, he trusted Radu. Despite it all, he believed in him. And the way he impacted Radu, was in a way that was utterly believable. And his entire character, I just hope he will survive to the end.
And their sibling relationship, even when they separated, they didn’t stop thinking about each other. They are close, when together are balanced yet they would suffocate each other. They would utterly be unable to help each other rise. And have separated, they constantly think about each other. Constantly think about the other’s action. And I loved it.
The romance and love triangle have tied up, in a way that I was satisfied yet completely out of my thought. It developed in a way I never thought it would, and the end, I would say is fitting.
As for my ending paragraph. This was perfection to me, but it may not be for all readers. If you like historical fiction, if you like politics and court intrigue, then this is for you. There is no fantasy, there is no easy way out. There is only political machinations and deals, and cruelty. Above all, there are no heroes or villains here. And there is no black or white. Everything was in shades of grey. And this is all about thrones and power.
If you like all this, pick up And I Darken. Because there is no better ya book who deals with this better, the way that politics is handled here was so well done. But if you prefer sword fights and action scenes, you are looking for the wrong book.
Rating: 5 out of 5