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.
“Let your loyalty be only where your heart is. Everything else can fall by the road and be trodden underfoot as we pass to our home.”
I didn’t think it was ever possible for this book to live up to the greatness of And I Darken and lord how wrong I was. I’m genuinely shocked to say that I love this book more than its predecessor and I am so, so happy about it. It was everything that I wanted from the first book and so much more, I can’t get enough of this series.
While some of the historical content is, of course, questionable (not just the gender swapped Vlad the Impaler) I am impressed to say that the book depicts some major historical events in wonderful detail and I learned a couple of things about the siege of Constantinople (present day Istanbul). I was impressed to find that Radu was the real star of this novel and I loved that it really developed his character. His side of the story truly illustrated the cruel realities of war and how civilians trapped inside a besieged city suffer the most. His struggle with his feelings and loyalty were believable and absolutely heartrending.
Lada also finds herself facing a similar fork in her path as she questions her loyalties and what the best way forward toward the throne would be. There were a few parts of her story that to me seemed like they made less sense and the repetition of the line “I am a dragon” started to get a little tiring, but I could forgive it for the engaging plot. She truly becomes the brutal and brilliant prince that tries to find her own road to power without having to go through a man, she is an incredible character that I really admire.
I can’t talk about much more without potentially spoiling the plot, but all I can say is if you haven’t read the series definitely check it out, it’s one of my absolute favorites. If you read And I Darken and felt lukewarm about the lack of battles and action, give the series another try with this book, it really fills in everything that was missing from the first.
Strengths: Astoundingly good character development and world building, action-packed
Weaknesses: A few mild plot holes
Warnings: Violence, sex, language