Bright We Burn

Bright We Burn

Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever . . . and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed . . . and would he even want it? Lada's rule of absolute justice...

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Title:Bright We Burn
Author:Kiersten White
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Bright We Burn Reviews

  • Elise (TheBookishActress)

    I do not have the Words To Convey how much this ending for a series meant to me

    here was my lowkey spoilery initial list of what I wanted out of this sequel:

    • please let Radu be happy

    • you know exactly who I want him to be happy with

    • LET NAZIRA REUNITE WITH HER WIFE

    • Mehmed dying maybe

    • honestly I think Lada's going to die no matter what for historicity if nothing else

    • please jus

    I do not have the Words To Convey how much this ending for a series meant to me

    here was my lowkey spoilery initial list of what I wanted out of this sequel:

    • please let Radu be happy

    • you know exactly who I want him to be happy with

    • LET NAZIRA REUNITE WITH HER WIFE

    • Mehmed dying maybe

    • honestly I think Lada's going to die no matter what for historicity if nothing else

    • please just let Radu, Nazira, Fatima, and Cyprian be gay in peace. please Kiersten White I'm a nice person

    Okay, so basic TL;DR: This book is my second favorite series conclusion I have ever read [after

    ] and nothing can ever beat it and oh my fucking god, I loved this.

    This series is political and character driven, which is... such a deep mood for me.

    It is a character and theme study that I just… adore. So much.

    Radu's characterization has come so far since

    - in

    , Kiersten White really made me love him, and I just... relate to him so much. I love how well Radu’s sexuality is written. He is so careful about expressing his love for other men, and it’s so realistic not only to the period, but also to my experiences in our current world. Kiersten White is really one of the few not-openly-queer authors I trust most with writing queer characters.

    And then… there’s Lada. Lada, who I hate and empathize with at the same time. I love how cunning Lada is, how she does everything differently than expected. Every moment of planning she has made me want to scream with joy. And my favorite Lada quote is a spoiler, so I can't put it here, but I think she's one of the best-written antiheroes I've read recently and I really like it?

    I really feel like this series went so far past its original sort-of-fucked-up-love-triangle focus. The most important relationships here are predominantly platonic. Lada and Radu. Lada and Nicolae [I’d die for them]. And then there's Radu and Nazira, who I basically ship platonically harder than I have ever shipped anything romantically.

    Speaking of which, I AM GIVING RADU AND NAZIRA THE PARAGRAPH THEY DESERVE. Kiersten White is really out here givin the gays everything they want!! They touched cheeks! They held hands!!!!! They platonically love each other so deeply and it's fucking gorgeous!!!!! They are… literally worth the world to me and I adore them and I’d just die for them. Nazira and Radu invented mlm / wlw solidarity and that's so valid.

    Also… listen. Guys. Radu and Lada.

    But honestly, the most important thing about this whole book was the ending. Because, okay, I have a lot of thoughts, but I don't want to say them, because this book is not even fucking released yet, but also, I have to say them? So please,

    So... the found family ending of this is the best-ever subversion of the bury your gays trope I have ever read in my entire fucking life and I.... legitimately cried. You should have seen me and

    screaming in the DMs both reading this at the same time. We were such fucking messes and it meant even more to her, as a Muslim queer woman, than it did to me, and I just... wow I'm a wreck?

    And also... Radu chose people over power. And that was the difference.

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  • Emily May

    Oh, it was.

    .

    I have

    loved this series. I mean, why wouldn't I? There's a murderous antiheroine who's definitely more anti than heroine. There's battles and backstabbing and unrequited love. There's alt-history that's - let's face it - a lot more alt than history. There's Vlad the Impaler reimagined as a woman. In other words, this se

    Oh, it was.

    .

    I have

    loved this series. I mean, why wouldn't I? There's a murderous antiheroine who's definitely more anti than heroine. There's battles and backstabbing and unrequited love. There's alt-history that's - let's face it - a lot more alt than history. There's Vlad the Impaler reimagined as a woman. In other words, this series is almost everything I've always wanted.

    I say

    because Kiersten White is publishing literally everything I have always wanted next year:

    In this book, we pick up right where we left off in

    . Lada is, unsurprisingly, on a murderous rampage, making many powerful enemies and a few important allies as she goes along. White pushes the limits on how much sympathy we can have for a character who is borderline villain, but I personally adored Lada to the end.

    While I doubt I would have had the same sympathies for the real, male Vlad, I think the author captured Lada's frustrations with the limitations of being a woman really well. She is obviously a very screwed up, disturbed person, and it was impossible for me to not feel sympathy for her. Even when she is at her worst (which is 95% of the time). And I love that, even though she is incredibly strong, she also has moments of weakness and self-doubt that remind us of her underlying humanity.

    True to the character of this series, this final installment is

    . Tensions between Lada, Radu and Mehmed reach an all-time high, with their affections for one another never far behind their animosity. Such page-turning goodness!

    I love that this series positively portrays both a gay romance and Islam. Radu and Cyprian offer some light in an otherwise very dark trilogy, as does the respectful handling of various faiths (or lack of, in Lada's case). We need this warmth to counter the ever-growing pile of bodies and the tension created by the approaching climax.

    Of course, I won't tell you anything that could spoil the ending, but I found it a very satisfying conclusion. White wraps things up just as they should be, in my opinion, with the perfect balance of historical fact and artistic license.

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  • Em (RunawayWithDreamthieves)

    I genuinely feel like my heart belongs to so many fictional characters and I wish it would just come home to me.

    The only way I could accurately get across my passion is either in multi-page, overtly dramatic, 19th-century-style rose-scented love letters or just a live footage of me breakdancing while crying for five minutes straight.

    Yeah, I know I have things to be happy about but my heart kind of hurts knowing this series had come to its end. I really wish I could li

    I genuinely feel like my heart belongs to so many fictional characters and I wish it would just come home to me.

    The only way I could accurately get across my passion is either in multi-page, overtly dramatic, 19th-century-style rose-scented love letters or just a live footage of me breakdancing while crying for five minutes straight.

    Yeah, I know I have things to be happy about but my heart kind of hurts knowing this series had come to its end. I really wish I could live forever in the peaceful feeling I got after I finished this book where everything seemed softer and the lights were all tinged in hues of blue and pink and the world felt silky and light and surreal and it's like my heart was auditioning for cirque du soleil and all my feelings were bursting into tiny pieces of heart-shaped confetti!! But since that's ruled out, I guess now my heart and soul will just float aimlessly in this empty universe....

    So before I get into what this book is about, I want to say this: I can't possibly convey what reading

    meant to me or come even close to describing the quaking moment of recognition, the shock of the familiar and how it all felt like being held close in a dimly lit room and being told

    .

    In a time when our community still gets little to no representation at all in the media, seeing myself in these characters was truly a cathartic experience. And for that, I honestly feel like I should have a whole separate heart for loving this series because it’s an entire different feeling than anything I feel for everything else.

    Okay. My entire stance on reading

    is that it felt like me just metaphorically trying to live peacefully in a secluded cottage and do my own thing while also wanting to witness the fall of empires right next door. I was reading with probably the same frequency others smoked cigarettes, the bags under my eyes were darker than the inside of Hollister and I’m pretty sure I have aged at least three lifetimes over the course of four hundred pages.

    was the embodiment of war, the spitting image of chaos. It was ruptured loyalties and a country in disarray. It was desperate calculated plays for power, a capital filled with snakes and people cursed to fight amongst themselves, while everyone else suffers for it. This was a wild journey, like the fury that’s been building up in the previous two books has come undone, and everything came equipped with rage, flying in on a hell chariot. Things were pretty terrible in the previous books, but I had no idea just how much

    they were going to get.

    But mostly? This is the series finale we all deserved. It absolutely exceeded my expectations. Kiersten White sure knows how to end a series with a

    .

    I think it’s time to say it again and with more feeling:

    .

    Lada lives by one statement that she maintains the truth in: there is very little that she needs, and even less that she wants. There’s a pyre in the lighthouse of her wayward morality and it ignited for one thing and one thing alone:

    . This is the closest thing to religion that Lada knows; her faith unwavering. She has vowed to take her country back, no matter how many times she's been told that she never stood the chance to

    . So she showed no mercy and she wreaked havoc on everything. Her anger was quick and unforgiven, messy and inevitable, a direct blast like the sun exploding.

    Lada reigned and raged and burned.

    After all, they asked for it.

    And it was fucking glorious.

    Lada's character is a blessing to tiresome routines. She bloomed whether they watered her or not. Whether they provided her with light or not. She was dressed in fortified independence and she spun herself a crown of gold.

    e.

    However, the one thing Lada wasn't prepared for was what a lonely existence that would be. Because Lada may be stone-hard and stubborn, but she still suffers toil and loneliness and hurt of soul perhaps more hardily than all others.

    , and yeah, she then does something that immediately reminds you how basically dead inside she is. But for those moments — Lada mourning her friends, Lada curled up sobbing in her brother's arms, you glimpse all the people she’s used and left in the cold or, you know, crystallized into just that, a means to an end; you glimpse everything that

    and you can't help but feel a sharp pang of ache in your heart.

    There’s not a single person I wouldn’t throw off a cliff for Radu, including myself. He deserves pure hearted happiness and relish in the world and my gay Muslim heart is literally bursting for him!!

    First of all, can we talk about how Radu’s character development added 70 years onto my life? How he’s cultivated his inner strength to pierce through the ugly times and into a lighter state of being? How he could’ve turned cold after everything he’s been through but still chose

    anyway? And how there’s so much strength in that; the kind of strength that only comes from empathy and compassion? How he ended up being the hero because without the soft touch of vulnerability, he would have been the villain?

    Gone was the Radu who’s worn his emotions, his susceptibility to people, like a badge of shame; who’s constantly suppressed half of himself to accommodate to others’ needs; whose downfall was always putting the

    people first, giving them all of him, never asking for anything to be given to him in return.

    He’s become ruthless with the thoughts he entertained, with the people he chose to spend time with and the things he chose to fight for. He's become ruthless in culling, stripping his life of the unnecessary and making room for the things that matter.

    Radu's whole arc was centered around

    . How the choices we make will always come back to us, in a different form, different person, different event. However, in any way, those choices will always come back.

    He's chosen not being cold-hearted and aloof, but being amicable in the face of bitterness and gentle with those who deserve to be loved. And that choice has echoed backwards in time and undid the things that hurt him.

    It really is unbelievable just how much love I hold in my heart for Nazira, Fatima, Radu and Cyprian!!

    I can feel the solid lump of ice that is my heart melting just thinking about them. How fucking beautiful is the bond they share and how no other bond can even touch what they have. Their foundation is built on a solid friendship and is an extension of a deep love found in mutual respect, trust and understanding. It’s ever-lasting because it’s the kind of bond that was not cultivated by something as accidental as blood, but something much stronger – by

    .

    They truly give a new meaning to the word family: a word that should now only be reserved for the people who love you without demanding that you hide the parts of yourself that you think are unlovable; the people who genuinely make you feel safer, even if they’re far away from you because their existence is so calming and beautiful and it makes everything seem better somehow; and the people whose hearts teach you something which makes you more gentle and human and remain soft for you always.

    And gosh,

    . Radu and Cyprian’s forehead kisses mixed with laughter, the innocent feeling of Fatima laying her head on Nazira’s lap and Nazira always needing to be near her for no other reason than pure comfort and love and closeness. The brushing of hands and the knowing looks, Cyprian gently asking Radu about his and Islam's boundaries and Radu cherishing all of these moments and how it all "

    " . Everything they do is soft and rose scented. I swear they’re like tea or a soft blanket: warm and gentle and

    .

    I think the greatest takeaway from this series as a whole is that the greatest battles are fought and won by the heart, not the bloodied fist. That softness is never a weakness, that staying delicate in a world so cruel is the biggest testament of courage. That life is too grand to revolve around one person, one feeling, one place, one memory, one goal. And that the complexity and diversity of the world is so beautiful and you have the right to explore it. You should never settle for less.

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  • C.G. Drews

    Which are words I'M CRYING AS I TYPE because finales scare the frick out of me...and this one managed to stab me in the soul (like 5 times)

    still give me everything I hoped it would. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Everything is perfect. I will also scream quietly into the void for 2-3 working days before I feel like rereading the whole trilogy agaaaaaain.

    THANK YOU TO THE AUTHOR FOR A PERFECT FINALE. I'M CRYING IT'S FINE. WOW.

    Which are words I'M CRYING AS I TYPE because finales scare the frick out of me...and this one managed to stab me in the soul (like 5 times)

    still give me everything I hoped it would. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Everything is perfect. I will also scream quietly into the void for 2-3 working days before I feel like rereading the whole trilogy agaaaaaain.

    THANK YOU TO THE AUTHOR FOR A PERFECT FINALE. I'M CRYING IT'S FINE. WOW.

    It's a little smaller than the other books, but I quite liked how it all panned out. The middle is SO INTENSE...like forget books where the middle drags. 0_0 This was terrifying and exhilarating. There's wars and betrayals, kidnapping plots and horror, and there are the softest quietest moments that just make my heart so full. Like some of my most

    chapters were simply two precious characters getting to hold hands, fingers all entwined, and I just !!! 94% of the reason I'm sobbing right there.

    I love dark books. I love it when books don't pretend to be dark, but

    . Lada is badass and terrifying and SHE FOLLOWS THROUGH. The battles are grim, the aftermaths are horrifying. It's just so well written and portrayed. Like Lada is so unlikeable, yet I love her. And Radu makes some awful betrayals, but I love him.

    I can't even saaaaay how much I love Radu and Lada. I LOVE THEM OK. Absolute best siblings of softness and mURDER ever. Their arcs are

    , with Lada being vulnerable between ripping people's throats out (um with her bare hands but what can you do) and Radu learning that he doesn't

    to be brave. That kindness is sometimes the most daring and brave choice of all. I FREAKING LOVE RADU. HE IS SO PRECIOUS.

    He is soft and he is allowed to be soft. Lada is harsh and she is allowed to be harsh. afjdksladjkl my favourite siblings

    And quick shout out to our queen and ruler: Nazira. She is so sweet and lovely and conniving and will absolutely rearrange your life FOR YOUR HAPPINESS and loves Radu so so

    while being absolutely incredibly in love with her wife, Fatima. I just !! I love this incredible queer family they are all precious 10/10 will die for them all.

    Which is talent. I love the writing! It's not the typical voice or style...and I think that's what now draws me to it?! It's different. It's refreshing. I actually have not been this obsessed with a book pretty much all year (barring a few others!) so this just made my dEAD HEART BEAT AGAIN. THANK YOU.

    It weaves actually really heartfelt and beautiful messages in amongst the wars and woes, the loss and the betrayals. It has one of my favourite love triangles (BEST conclusion) and and incredible cast of complex characters

    . With all their flaws! And their nastiness or weakness!! I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. LOVE EVERYTHING. I SHOULD GO SIT DOWN WOW.

    ~ QUOTES ~

    (This is from the author's note, but I just love it so much)

  • Tweebs♥️ (semi-hiatus)

    Well slap me on a grill and call me BBQ

    You know what Kiersten White did to my heart?

    She

    After, she was thoroughly done with my heart; my brain was the next target. It didn’t even stand a chance because I remember I was at work one day and a

    Well slap me on a grill and call me BBQ

    You know what Kiersten White did to my heart?

    She

    After, she was thoroughly done with my heart; my brain was the next target. It didn’t even stand a chance because I remember I was at work one day and a customer hit me with the

    question and I said,

    Goodbye everybody. I died well pleased.

    , made me lose like 35 years off my life. It was

    It made me scream at humans, inanimate objects or just...screaming in general. It made me cry so much like the floor clearly doesn’t need any mopping now like I can see my own reflection. It made me happy, proud, afraid but most importantly,

    I erased this review countless times because I’m just in complete awe. It’s over. This is it. I never knew my heart could ever hurt so much. Every time I type up something, it's just never enough. I can't capture what I truly want to say through words. Maybe, just go on YouTube and search for someone laying on the floor surrounded by a puddle of tears if you wanna understand me.

    Ugh.

    I can't wrap my mind around the fact that it's truly D O N E. There's no more being sucked into this world and being amazed by everything. There's no more putting myself in these characters shoes and being apart of their wonderful yet terrifying journey. There’s no more clutching my chest whenever the plot takes a turn….and by turn, I really meant A TURN. There’s no more sacrificing my sleep and obviously representing that eye bag life. I mean, my eye bags are pretty much designer now….Louis Vuitton got nothing on me.

    The point is...

    As you can see, I'm not okay and I don't think I ever want to be. There's a reason why I usually never review a final book of a series. It's very difficult to calm yourself, sit down, gather your thoughts together and type up a review when you could be dealing with other priorities such as sobbing. I have absolutely no idea how to produce a review anymore since I've been kind of MIA on this website for several months. So, yeah I'll give it my best shot.

    Enjoy the front row seat to this hot mess :)

    Oh, this is a spoiler-free review :)

    ► Intense

    ► Everything was intense.

    ► It was

    ►Every word, page and chapter will have you…..idk about you but my family didn’t appreciate being grabbed like every 3 seconds. Or witness me hyperventilating which I don’t blame them because I’m overly dramatic. Or having to frequently ask me if I’m alright because I’d look at them like my eyes will pop out of their sockets.

    ► The plot will clearly drag you left, right and centre.

    ► It will make your veins explode.

    ►You’ll experience like 1000 mind blowing plot twists and sadly you will not be prepared for a single one.

    ►Your heart might be fucked up after this book but look on the bright side, it will be filled with everything you never knew you needed in your life.

    ► I think this is the part where I mic drop

    ►*mic drop*

    ► Idk why I had to announce that.

    ►Fuck you.

    ►And Fuck you.

    ►That is all.

    ►I lied I forgot one more thing.

    ► FUCK YOU

    ► Can’t believe I’m saying this but I, Tweebs, emotionally connected to the pomegranate on the cover.

    ► Let me explain myself before you judge my entire existence.

    ► These characters sliced me in half just like that pomegranate on the cover.

    ► Now onto the characters that sliced me in fucking half.

    ■ I should hate her

    ■ She is vicious, absolutely broken, savage and literally will carry out on every single threat. And yes, she’s crazy but once you get a taste of her vulnerability; everything you ever thought of her will disappear. Okay, not really but you’d develop a sense of understanding and sympathy. You will cry for her because she's just........a broken and lost girl who deals with everything in such a different yet cruel way.

    ■ I love the fact that her character wasn’t afraid to do anything. She doesn't think, she acts. She's so freakin stubborn. She will fight, no matter who you are, if you pose a threat to her accomplishing her goals and ambitions. And yes, she has me shaking in fear and being left in disbelief in like every chapter but hey THAT’S MY CHILD I LOVE HER.

    ■ You ever just like someone so much that you bring them up for no reason at all in every conversation because that’s me with Radu.

    ■ He is my smart little scrumptious cinnamon roll

    ■ He is the biggest softie who just wants to spread love and kindness everywhere.

    ■ He faces so many obstacles that plague him yet he always turns toward his faith for guidance. I just....his faith in Islam is so beautiful. So pure. So innocent. It really touches me as a believer of the religion.

    ■ Lada may appear to look like the most troubled sibling but I feel like Radu is the one. He's troubled by so many things and internalizes it. I'm just so happy that Radu received everything he ever wished for. He's had his own fair share of being on the same "I should hate this character" boat but I just can't stay hating my child.

    ■ Honestly, someone fetch me tissues. I’m in desperate need of them.

    ■ We have so many characters and I have so little brain cells left so I’ll sum it up really quickly.

    ■ I just love how the plot doesn’t just revolve around Lada and Radu. It revolves around everyone. From Mehmed, to Nikolai, to Nazira, to Bogdan, To Fatima, to Cyprian, and many more.

    ■ You will feel their struggles, their fears, their expectations, and their happiness.

    ■ These characters are just simply unforgettable.

    ■ Heck, even the ones you HATE are unforgettable.

    ► Everything in this book is magnificent.

    ► It makes picking quotes very very VERY difficult

    ► The devil works hard but Kiersten White works harder

    ► She has this amazing talent to lure you in with her writing. It’s sticky like syrup. Once you’re caught. That’s it. There’s no going back.

    ► I just….ugh. Everything was refreshing.

    ► The storytelling was enthralling.

    ► Is it possible to remove whatever is left of my heart and give it to Kiersten White?

    ► I loved the politics, history, and finding one's true self.

    ► I loved the relationships in this book

    ► I loved the representation of different sexualities within this story and how it was thoroughly explored. I believe, a lot of people will be so freakin excited with the things that occur in this book. Why? BECAUSE I AM.

    ► I loved the fact that I realized how my religion, Islam, is interpreted by different perspectives. It was very eye-opening to me.

    ► There's so many things I loved, admired and cherished. I'm incapable of justifying my emotions. I have absolutely no faith in the English language to capture what I truly want to say.

    ►I just loved every fucking thing.

    ► Wow even typing the word “conclusion” is making my eyes fucking twitch.

    ► I CAN'T BELIEVE ITS OVER LIKE CAN YOU ? BECAUSE I CAN’T

    ► I might be unsatisfied that the journey has come to an end but deep down, I'm so fucking satisfied. I choked on my saliva like 7 times because everything wrapped up so beautifully.

    ►Bright we burn was stunning, breathtaking and the perfect finale. This series is probably going to be one of my favorite's because I will never forget the amount of tears I’ve shed. I will never forget the characters who, quite literally, demanded to live inside my heart. I will never forget, amidst the chaos, this book delivered so many genuine messages filled with hope. And lastly, I will never forget to repeatedly thank Kiersten White for writing and blessing us with this beautiful gem of a series. It may be the end of a remarkable journey but this story and the characters will never end for me. They'll always remain fucking alive in my heart. And hey, re-reads. We can't forget re-reads.

    Kiersten White, I look forward to all of your future books.

    Thank you so much.

    Now let me go cry.

    Now, y'all already know what to do by now.

    ********************************************

    what do you want from the grocery store?

    a pomegranate

    but you don't even lik-

    WELL

    I DO NOW

  • Yusra  ✨

    2nd reread- just wondering if this book will ever not make me cry.

    ---------------------------

    this series means the world to me. I can never find the proper words to describe just how much I’ve loved this gory, bloody, brutal journey that Lada has taken me on, and the moving, spiritual way Radu changed me. it took me a straight three days to muster the courage to read the epilogue because I was not ready in any way, shape or form for the ending of a trilogy that’s just established a place in my

    2nd reread- just wondering if this book will ever not make me cry.

    ---------------------------

    this series means the world to me. I can never find the proper words to describe just how much I’ve loved this gory, bloody, brutal journey that Lada has taken me on, and the moving, spiritual way Radu changed me. it took me a straight three days to muster the courage to read the epilogue because I was not ready in any way, shape or form for the ending of a trilogy that’s just established a place in my heart that no other book will take. I’m not even ashamed of how much I’ll be gushing in this review, so here we go.

    if you thought “and i darken” was historical… just you wait. this book is historical to the extreme, which honestly had my head spinning but also had me screaming because I love hist fic a whole lot. there’s political intrigue that has you second guessing everything and honestly… i’ve never been so shook. it’s a great thing. (update: it's actually... not that bad. I think I was rushing the first time around and therefore couldn't properly understand what was going on.)

    oh lada, lada, lada. i can’t put into words just how much I hate her? but love her?

    how many times have you read a book where the girl is pretty badass… but there’s always a limit? like she’s in love with the egotistic prince so she won’t kill him, or his family etc etc?? she’ll falter before the killing blow? or leave people just “injured” on the battlefield?

    this book is like a breath of fresh air against all those stereotypes. i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again: kiersten white ain’t worried about anything. she doesn’t care if you think her heroine is too brutal. that’s just my presumption, since she just keeps making lada worse and worse. and i’ll be honest: you know that song, “i hate you, i love you”? god, i hate that song much, but it’s the only thing that comes to mind when I think about lada.

    i hate her, i love her, i hate that i love her.

    because seriously, there’s so much I don’t think I can forgive her for. but there’s also so much to admire and love about how she doesn’t have a limit. she doesn’t have a quota to fill or a “break”. she has one goal: Wallachia, and she is willing to sacrifice anything for it. i’m almost envious of how sure she is about her life and her goals.

    that isn’t to say she’s completely unfeeling. we’re exposed to her true vulnerabilities in the most heartbreaking way. how much she values Radu, both as an ally and a brother. how much she cares for the group of Janissaries she started out with. how she deals with heartbreak and the loss of loved ones. I honestly have loved, screamed, and yelled at Lada privately in my head, but I never expected to cry for her. it felt like a piece of me was leaving everytime a goodbye was said.

    y’all already know i could go on, and on, and on. but all i’ll say is lada is one of the most amazing and crazy antiheroines to ever exist. and just...wow. i’m almost in tears, bye.

    in case you missed it,

    . I just love him. what more can i say? there’s just a lot of room in my heart for radu and he will forever remain.

    first and foremost: i was so beyond excited when he converted to islam/started showing an interest in islam in “and i darken”. because I had already seen how much attention was being paid to the details, whether that was historical or religious, and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. and all in all; I wasn’t. radu’s faith was so pure and the peace he found within it was just… spiritually healing? he was just so real, and it mattered a lot to me.

    just generally speaking, radu is the smarter sibling. *hope lada doesn’t impale me for saying this* but he is tactical, he has a way with words, and he deals fairly. he knows the court games, and boy, he enjoys them. him and lada combined… i’d hate to deal with that, if i was the enemy.

    and oh my god. i’m going to miss him so much. it feels like yesterday he was the young boy who stayed close to his nurse and wanted to join bogdan and lada when they played. just yesterday he challenged Colin for the honey cake he knew wasn’t real. just yesterday he was tormented by mircea and used his clever mind to deal out punishment to his bullies. just yesterday he was utterly in love with mehmed and couldn’t think past him. just yesterday he was befriended by kumal and married to nazira, trying to figure out his love and whether it was something dirty, unclean.

    and now? radu has changed. his character development… i’m crying. it was everything i’ve ever wanted for his character. everything from his past was wrapped up and he emerged a new person and...wow. so much love for everything radu.

    i feel the need to mention him because he was a critical part of this series. and he grew too, just not in the way i wanted him to. this book had a lot less mehmed, and honestly, i was fine with it. mehmed grew to only love Lada, and when that love got nowhere… he almost disappeared of the face of this book. it makes me real nostalgic thinking about the days when he was young, a carefree boy who no one paid attention to. now, he has isolated himself to adhere to his status as sultan and… i felt bad for him. his love for lada didn’t really have any affect on me, but the fact that he lost the help of two childhood friends and allies is pretty heartbreaking.

    i love nazira. i didn’t realize the extremity of my love for her until this book. but honestly, her happiness, her love… it just really got to me and my heart goes for her. and fatima. and cyprian. all of radu’s newfound family.

    this book is just really sad. for me, it was mostly just sadness at leaving this journey that i’ve been on with some of my favourite characters of YA, and realizing i’ll never see them again. it’s… depressing. also, this was a real quick review and pretty messy, but i’ll be writing a better one soon (i hope).

    in conclusion: #readthebook

  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
  • Lola

    Saying goodbye to a series is rarely easy, especially an all-consuming one like

    never fails to be.

    The moment I met Lada Dracul, I knew I would be making an old character unhappy by bumping her down my list of favourite heroines to make place for Lada.

    The thing about this young woman is that she isn’t easy to place. Is she a heroine? Yes and no. Is she an anti-heroine? Yes and no. Is she human? Yes… and no. And yet, you can’t help but root for her. You can’t help but want he

    Saying goodbye to a series is rarely easy, especially an all-consuming one like

    never fails to be.

    The moment I met Lada Dracul, I knew I would be making an old character unhappy by bumping her down my list of favourite heroines to make place for Lada.

    The thing about this young woman is that she isn’t easy to place. Is she a heroine? Yes and no. Is she an anti-heroine? Yes and no. Is she human? Yes… and no. And yet, you can’t help but root for her. You can’t help but want her to achieve her goals, regardless of the amount of murders she commits in the process.

    Because Lada has something that few people do: sheer determination. Of course, many will fight night and day for what they want, but Lada will fight beyond that. She wants to conquer and, goddamn it, she will conquer until the end of her days!

    Except, Lada’s is not a journey to be completely admired. After all, she has to sacrifice so much – more than she ever expected – in the process of rising to power. It takes absolute strength, incomparable intelligence, unwavering perseverance and continuous faith in one’s abilities, all qualities worthy of praise. But it also takes a certain amount of arrogance, skilful manipulation and a heart that knows deep betrayal, all of which I do not aspire to possess.

    So while Lada will forever remain in my dear memories, I do not aspire to become her entirely. As she soon discovers, it is quite lonely at the top. I don’t want to have to look over my shoulders every second of the day. Or actively question the loyalty of those who surround me. Or let my ego get me into trouble. But Lada doesn’t need much to be happy: all she needs is a knife and a boyar.

    This is an epic conclusion to an equally epic series, both an elaborate tale of triumph and a cautionary one.

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  • destiny ♎ [howling libraries]

    This series has been an incredible journey, and I was both eager and terrified to see how it would end. As many of you already know, I tend to avoid series finales like the plague. They’re almost always my least favorite part of a series, probably because I like very particular types of endings where all the loose ends are tied and everyone has completed their tasks—and these are rarely synonymous with happy, fan-servicing endings,

    This series has been an incredible journey, and I was both eager and terrified to see how it would end. As many of you already know, I tend to avoid series finales like the plague. They’re almost always my least favorite part of a series, probably because I like very particular types of endings where all the loose ends are tied and everyone has completed their tasks—and these are rarely synonymous with happy, fan-servicing endings, which is what this felt like to me.

    Lada has been one of my favorite heroines since I first read

    , but she was perhaps my greatest struggle in this installment. You see, Lada has always been vicious, but she’s been

    about it; she’s made a habit of outwitting everyone around her, constantly, and her intentions have always been fair: to pull Wallachia out of the mud and see her people thrive without the shackles put upon them by men like the boyars and Mehmed.

    In this finale, something feels lost in her character arc to me. Gone is the conniving yet brilliant young woman who took from the rich to give to the poor, and in her place is a sloppy warlord who destroys innocents recklessly and stumbles into one trap after another. I understand character development and that sometimes, the characters we love become less than what they were, but I believe with my whole heart that this was the wrong direction to take Lada’s story in.

    And then, there’s Radu, who I actually admitted in my

    review was one of the most infuriating characters I’ve ever met in my life. He makes almost exclusively terrible decisions because of his affections for Mehmed, and he is blind to the entire world around him whenever he is in the sultan’s presence. But, you know what else I mentioned in that review: I

    that about him. I enjoyed the drama he brought to the pages. That was no longer the case by the end of

    As we near the end of the story, Radu finally begins to see the error of his ways, yet he doesn’t do anything to

    his mistakes. Instead, he doubles down, and while I won’t spoil the action for you, I will say that the direction he takes shocked me in the most awful way. Much like with Lada, I felt like I was reading an entirely different character from the one I’d grown to know in the first two books.

    The one thing that remains entirely the same in

    is Mehmed, who is still this insufferable, disgusting cretin of a man. I can’t say anything at all about how I feel regarding Mehmed without spoiling the entire ending, but if you’ve read it, feel free to DM me—I have quite a lot of feelings about his story.

    There are a million other things I’d like to fuss about, but they’re all spoilers, so I’ll leave them all be; however, if you’ve read it, there’s a particular incident that occurs with Lada that is intended to be a “twist”, and it not only frustrated me that I predicted it so long ago, but it also positively enraged me with how she handled it. (Again, feel free to DM—lots of rage to get out over this one.)

    All in all, this wasn’t a horrible book on its own; as you can see, I still thought it was worth a solid 3 stars. That said, it was one of the most disappointing series finales I have ever read, in terms of the direction the story took. At the time that I’m writing this review, however, my opinion is

    not the common consensus, so if you have enjoyed the series thus far, I do strongly urge you to pick this up and give it a chance.

    You can find this review and more on my

    , or you can follow me on

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    , or

    !

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