*I received a free copy of Now I Rise from Delacorte Press via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *Now I Rise by Kiersten White
Series: The Conqueror's Saga #2
Published by Delacorte Press on 27 June 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Travel, Young Adult
Reading Challenges: 2017 New Release Challenge
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.
Now I Rise took me on a fantastic trip through history and various countries, following Lada in her quest for power – on her own.
Now I Rise is one of my favorite 2017 releases! There, now that’s out of the way, you have been warned that this review might not be as coherent as it could be, because I’m so happy about this book I just want to say : “Run and buy it! Then shut yourself in somewhere to read it!” That’s how good it is! Lada has grown up quite a bit, but now, she’s without Radu and Mehmed, and while she definitely wanted to have allies, they were not the best choice for her to win back Wallachia. And she soon realizes that while her men believe in her and her abilities, other people only see her as a woman, who should not necessarily lead an army to take back what she believes is hers. The beginning of the story shows the continuation from the first book, but Lada ends up leaving with her own fighters, rather than staying with Mehmed and Radu.
There is a strong sense of right and wrong in Now I Rise, and while Lada sometimes skirts the line between them, she is one who fights for women. She is absolutely horrified when she sees how some women are treated on her lands, and she has a strong need to make their lives better, safer, and give them some power back as well. This is definitely not something that would be common in the 15th century, but it sure does mesh with Lada and how she acted from I first met her in And I Darken. Lada is ruthless, just like the men who surround her – but because she is a woman, most of them completely underestimate her, and that is one of her strengths. Because she understands that their underestimating her can be used to her advantage. And she continues to see the threads of power and kinship that string people together. She also has the ability to see where such strings might be weaker, and thus knows exactly where to strike and when.
The historical aspects in Now I Rise are amazing, even if White doesn’t follow them in every way. I love how the wars based on religions are explained – and those same reasons are used today in the real world. Infidels on both sides, where the Christians and the Muslims believe that theirs is the one true religion. Using armies to get the point across, to become more powerful and bring turmoil and hunger to the enemy. There is also a sense of Lada growing here, not only physically, but emotionally, she has become more mature. And she definitely sometimes has to fight against her own body in order to move forward with her plans for the future.
Written in third person, past tense, the narration follows Lada more than Radu or Mehmed in Now I Rise. We do get more than simple glimpses of them, though, especially Radu has an important role. With a wide cast of characters, and several battles to fight, there is a lot of action as well as a complex plot where political alliances are made and broken rather quickly.
She knew now that nothing she could do would ever be enough. Unless she could grow a penis, which did not seem likely. Nor particularly desirable.
Mehmed had tried to read her poetry before, and she always stopped him. It was a waste of words and breath. Who had ever looked with lust upon a gazelle?
He sat on the edge of the roof, his feet dangling in the void beneath him. It echoed the one that had opened up inside of him. He felt close to falling – or to flying. He did not know which it would be, but had no doubt time would tell.