Format: E-Galley | 496 pages
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Historical Fiction | Young Adult
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, who’s expected to rule a nation, 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.
AND I DARKEN is the first installment in author Kiersten White's The Conquerors Saga. AND I DARKEN is set during the period from 1435 to 1451. It covers time the characters spent in Wallachia, and the Ottoman Empire after being unceremoniously dumped there by their father. Almost every character that White features in this story is a historical one that apparently really existed. The only character who is not a historical character is my own personal favorite, Ladislav (Lada) Dragwylya who apparently goes on to become Lada the Impaler, eventually.
Radu cel Frumos and Mircea II of Wallachia are very real according to Wikipedia. Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia aka Vlad the Impaler was real. Mehmed II the Conqueror, son of Murad II is also real and reigned for 31 years. White focuses her story on Lada, Radu, and Mehmed. The story is told in alternating third person narratives, and if you haven't yet guessed which parts I gravitated towards, please read above. Right from the onset of the story, I knew that Lada was going to be a force to be reckoned.
"She was contrary and vicious and the meanest child the nurse had ever cared for..In Lada she saw a spark, a passionate, fierce glimmer that refused to hide or be dimmed."“On our wedding night," she said, "I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”“..If anyone is going to kill you, it will be me. Understand?" Radu nodded, snuggling into her shoulder. "Will you protect me?"Until the day I kill you." She jabbed a finger into his side, where he was most ticklish, and he squealed with pained laughter.”
Lada was born to Vlad Dracul unwanted, and not as beautiful as her younger brother Radu. She's brutal, she's badass, she may treat her brother Radu like she owns him, but she also is rather protective of him. She learns how to fight, and becomes good at it. She taunts and teases her teachers without feeling as though she will face repercussions. She learns to speak several languages, but unlike her own brother who converts to Islam, she refuses to. She also refuses to bow down to the Ottoman Empire even while being friends with Mehmed. I love characters who are dark, therefore it definitely gives me hope that the sequel will be better.
Radu is my biggest disappointment. Unlike Lada, he was given beauty, and the ability to make men and women swoon in envy. His narratives would have been better off having been left out of the story for they feature an aspect of religion that grated on my last nerve until it was ready to break into little pieces. I am sure there will be others who will mention his shyness and his demure behavior. That's fine. I would have been happy with him being a secondary character. History calls him Radu III the Boy Lover. I dare say that is the perfect characterization of him. He isn't all bad, but neither was Lada's friend/fellow soldier Nicolae.
I haven't decided on Mehmed, yet. I know history claims that he was a powerful leader and conqueror who obsessed over Constantinople for years. Mehmed's feelings for Lada didn't raise my review or lower it. It was a silly attempt at making two characters like, then love, then hate each other for their actions when one of the characters was off whetting his noodle with other girls. Mehmed is a clingy character who refuses to let Lada be who she wants to be, and when she refuses to bow to HIS religion, he is exasperating! If White follows even remotely close to actual history, the second installment should be very interesting.
AND I DARKEN was a good and dark story with a fantastic anti-heroine until the author truly expected ME, who has lost family and relations to believe that that Muhammad was anything but a murderer, a pedophile, a rapist, psychopath, and raving lunatic who destroyed as many lives as Stalin, Mao, and Hitler combined. I can not sit idly by while someone is saying "Prophet, peace be upon him," without hoping that he is burning in Hell right now alongside all the rest of the Radical Islam Extremists who have blown up innocent people in the name of a fake prophets name and 72 virgins!
As I close my review, may I first apologize to anyone who may take umbrage to anything I may have said in this review my opinions are my own personal opinions, and not that of Talk Supe. I believe that everyone should have the ability to provide factual evidence as to why they liked or disliked certain a story that the author has put forward. As I am a member of a family who has lost relatives to terrorism on 9/11, and saw the aftermath of the 1983 Beirut Marine Barracks, I am not willing to offer my forgiveness to those who were responsible. So...
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