Viki’s ARC Review: ‘Now I Rise’ by Kiersten White

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.

Title: Now I Rise (The Conqueror’s Saga #2)
Author: Kiersten White
Published: June 27th 2017 by Delacorte Press
Genres: fantasy, historical young adult, glbt

My thoughts:

I received and ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.

I absolutely loved the first book in the series, it was something phenomenal and the amazing note it ended on just fired me up even more for this installment. Let me start with the fact that I find cover really beautiful and expressive.

Unfortunately I’m a bit disappointed with the story as a whole.  The writing style is still quite good even if not as powerful and outstanding as it was with the first story.  With And I darken the writing created an atmosphere that was strange yet perfectly mirrored the depth and the darkness of the storyline, this particular trait I missed from Now I rise.  Yes, the writing cleared up a bit which mean it’s easier to read but not as enjoyable, at least for me.
Before I get to the plot and the characters there is one more thing I need to mention. The chapters alternate between Radu and Lada point of views but their timeline doesn’t go parallel so it’s a bit confusing and quite hard to follow. It took me a while to figure out the how and when.
As for the plot, it’s really different from what I expected. Maybe I had high expectations but the way the first book ended with both of the Draculesti siblings ready to take the world I was waiting for more dynamic, action packed and strong story line. I didn’t get it as I hoped but it still has plenty of action and surprises just from different directions.  After reading a couple of chapters I started to see the advantages the author created by going this way with her story and even started to like it. However the last quarter of the story took a turn I really didn’t like but mainly because of the characters transformation.
Another thing was the historical references and I know that this is a fiction so probably the author took a lot of liberties while creating the background of her story and there is a lot of accurate fact but some things just struck me in the wrong way. Mainly the way she described Matthias character. Since I’m Hungarian I know a lot about the topic and it bothered me a bit how callous and manipulative she describes him when in Hungarian history he described as one of the biggest and most fair king.  I understand that probably her Matthias was the one that served her story the best but it still was strange for me. And this is only going to bother those who are from Hungary.

And finally we arrived to the characters that caused me most of the headaches during reading. Part of my problem was probably the fact that there is a lot of Radu in this book and I really don’t like him. To be fair I tried to give him some leeway because he has some truth about him but I couldn’t like him more like this either. He was quite conflicted about his feelings even in the first book and these just get a finer edge in this story.  He is not just conflicted about his  emotions toward Mehmed anymore, but bitter about his position and with every new experience he gains during the story makes him even more and more aware of things going on around him he didn’t paid attention previously. He is so blinded by his feelings for Mehmed that he doesn’t see his true self. Yes, Radu is cunning and clever but he only uses his talents when he wants to appeal to the sultan. His infatuation and daydreaming is annoying as hell. He thinks like a stupid little girl with a first crush. What annoyed me the most was whenever he found a semblance of peace or belonging something happened that reminded him of Mehmed and every progress he made went down the toilet. It took him a whole book to see the obvious and realize that his beloved sultan just uses and manipulates him and yet he still stayed hoping once he will see him as more than a friend.
I was a bit disappointed in Lada too and it affected me is a bad way because I started out as a hard core team Lada. Well I sad to say that I lost this during the story. She struck out strong and determined at the end of the first book but in the beginning of Now I rise she already lost her wind, footing.  Since she has not one political or diplomatic bone in her body she couldn’t find a lot of allies during her year of petitioning. She lots not only her path but her motivation too. She needs to learn a lot before she can be a good ruler and she started to but before she could get some practice in she lost her patient and returned to her old ways. Which are aggression, brutality and ruthlessness? She also gets a couple of bitter realizations regarding Mehmed and her position which leads to a more aggressive front. I didn’t like how she resorted to unnecessary ruthlessness and acted, punished in more cruel ways than it was needed.  I didn’t like what she became and her power hungry and impatient self started to take her personality over.

So yeah I’m not only disappointed in the way the plot progressed but with the character development too. Yes there are a lot of enjoyable scenes in the story but not nearly enough to balance out the missing parts. Also I don’t see any kind of happy ending coming but after seeing what Lada became they deserve what they get. Sorry but that’s my opinion. I’m going to read the next book out of curiosity but I’m not going to wait for it with that much excitement.

My favorite quotes from the book:

“It was extravagant, excessive, absurd, like everything about thus party. A reflection of a sultan too young and foolish to think of anything beyond appearances and his own pleasure.”

“Why must I always be a man’s servant?” Lada demanded. “If anything, I should be partners with the devil, not his servant.”

He was still in love with her. They never spoke of her, but it was inescable. Perhaps, since she left before Mehmed could claim her, he would long for her forever. The same way he was fixated on Constantinapol, simply because it was not his but he felt is should be.

She realized with a pang whom it was she missed. She wante Radu on her right. And she wanted Mehmed on her left. They had made her feel strong, and smart, and seen. They had made her feel like a dragon. Without their relief in her, who was she?


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