And I Darken

And I Darken


Title: And I Darken

Author: Kiersten White

Series: The Conquerors Saga, #1

Publisher: Corgi Childrens

Release Date: July 7th 2016

Rating:

Four Stars

No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwyla likes it that way.

Ever since she and her brother were abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman sultan’s courts, Lada has known that ruthlessness is the key to survival. For the lineage that makes her and her brother special also makes them targets.

Lada hones her skills as a warrior as she nurtures plans to wreak revenge on the empire that holds her captive. Then she and Radu meet the sultan’s son, Mehmed, and everything changes. Now Mehmed unwittingly stands between Lada and Radu as they transform from siblings to rivals, and the ties of love and loyalty that bind them together are stretched to breaking point.

The first of an epic new trilogy starring the ultimate anti-princess who does not have a gentle heart. Lada knows how to wield a sword, and she’ll stop at nothing to keep herself and her brother alive.

– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”

Born in a time when women have no power and are only used to further a man’s reach Lada wants more than she will ever get from life. She grew up brutal, trying in vain to impress her father and gain his approval, make him see that is worthy as his daughter and worthy of ruling over and protecting Wallachia. Lada takes to heart all the lessons her father teaches her; she becomes ruthless and doesn’t stand for weakness, not even in her younger brother Radu, though she protects him in any way she can she despises his snivelling.

Lada has always looked up to her father but as she watches he starts to lose his hold over his people and his kingdom, and before long there’s a rebellion which forces Lada, Radu and their father to flee to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. In order to gain the forces he needs to take back Wallachia Vlad leaves Lada and Radu in the care of the sultan as war hostages; as long as peace reigns they will be safe but their lives will be forfeit if Vlad ever sides against the sultan in battle.

“I wish I had been there,” Lada said.
Nicolae laughed darkly. “I wish I had not. But if you had been there, little dragon, whose side would you have fought on?”
“My own.”
Their father had killed Lada and Radu twice over—first by leaving them here, and next by breaking the treaty that protected their lives. She would not fight for him.

From that moment Lada’s and Radu’s lives are no longer their own. While her brother slowly embraces their new life, learning all he can about the custom and religion, Lada never forgets that Wallachia is their home, and even though she is far from its lands it is always close to her heart.

And I Darken follows the lives of Lada and Radu from their births. We see the two of them grow up together; watch Lada become everything he father would desire in a son, and watch Radu shrink into the background until he learns to find his voice. We see Mehmed as he becomes a larger part of both Lada and Radu’s stories, watch as he struggles with his desire to be the hand of God on Earth while keeping his people content and his friends close.

…The Characters

“Lada had a sense for power—the fine threads that connected everyone around her, the way those threads could be pulled, tightened, wrapped around someone until they cut off the blood supply.
Or snapped entirely.”

Lada is ruthless, she has paid attention to everything her father taught her and has used it to shape who she is. She is good at reading people’s intentions when it comes to cruelty and she can see the threads of power that connect people but when it comes to espionage she is helpless. Lada will always go in quick and hard, ending life with brutal efficiency, she doesn’t see the point in making people trust her before ripping that trust away.

Watching Lada grow up is interesting because I don’t think she really understood how little power she had until she was under the care of the sultan. Everything she gained was because of Mehmed and all her strings of power connected back to him. The other women in this book like Lada have no power which does not connect back to a man but they have carved their own control, own world, from what scraps they have received. When it comes down to it they have all sacrificed something dear for their power, and that’s something Lada doesn’t understand yet.

Radu smiled his best, most innocent smile. The smile without guile, the smile that said, ‘Tell me your secrets, no harm will come’, the smile that said, ‘There is nothing more to me than what you see, trust me, trust me.’

Radu I thought was the most interesting character to watch grow up. He was always too weak to be strong like Lada so instead he learnt to make his weakness his strength. He knows how to make people trust him and then he twists that trust against them. Unlike Lada he understands how to make people believe in him and in his own way he is just as brutal as she is but in a different way. It took Radu a long time to stand on his own. He clung to Lada a lot while they were children but is eventually forced to stand on his own two feet, and that’s when he starts becoming his own character.

“I cannot afford to lose you, too.”
“You cannot lose something you do not own. Take me with you.”

Mehmed is a character I only really connected to through both Lada and Radu. Both of them love him and that love causes them to do everything in their power to protect him; even when it means hurting him in the long run they act in a way that’s best for their friend. Mehmed trusts the two of them beyond anything else and he would do anything for them but at the same time he is dedicated to becoming a powerful leader. It blinds him sometimes to the rumblings of dissent from his people and then it’s up to Lada and Radu to protect him.

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.

The relationship between Lada and Radu is my favourite one from the whole book. She doesn’t coddle him but instead tries to force him to fight back, against their older brother, against the boys who tormented him. Radu could never be as tough as Lada but she never stopped trying, and even despite her disgust at his weakness she protects him. She worries about him and even when Radu doesn’t realise it she does what she needs to to keep him safe. As they grow up there seems to be a deeper bond forged between them by the secrets they keep but there later becomes a distance between them which is caused by Radu’s feelings for Mehmed which aren’t returned. The dynamic between the two siblings was my favourite thing to read.

…The Setting

“We are that tree,” he said, then rode ahead.
It was twisted and small but green, growing sideways in defiance of gravity. It lived where nothing had any business thriving.
Lana did not know whether her father meant the two of them or all of Wallachia. In her mind, the two had become indistinguishable. We are that tree, she thought. We defy death, to grow.

Despite the fact that this book is set more in the Ottoman Empire and Mehmed’s home rather than Lada’s we saw a lot more of Wallachia’s influence. When we see the story through Lada’s eyes her home is never far from her thoughts. The lessons from her father she took to heart the most were those he taught her about her homeland; how it is their heart, their mother. Deep down, no matter how much time she spends in Mehmed’s home, no matter how much the prince and the sultan influence her and her heart, she belongs to Wallachia and it belongs to her. On the other hand Radu embraces their new culture. He converts to the Muslin religion and it’s through his eyes we see all the Ottoman Empire has to offer. We see his love for their customs and their lessons, his search for peace and his discovery of it in the Muslim religion through prayer and fasting. The setting is such a huge part of this book; be it the scenes we see from Lada’s point of view and Wallachia or through Radu’s or Mehmed’s point of view and the Ottoman Empire it was all richly written and described.


I’m not sure what I was expecting from And I Darken, and I’m not sure if this book exceeded my expectations or not. It’s hard to define but I can say that I really enjoyed this book; while the plot is more of a steady stream of actions and events rather than a build-up to an explosive finale it was the character development that really set this book apart for me.

What did you think of And I Darken? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

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30 thoughts on “And I Darken

    1. Thanks so much Anna! And I really hope you enjoy this book as well, it wasn’t what I expected I’ll admit but it was still amazing.
      Oh yeah I don’t mind people on the covers so I prefer the UK one, but I guess if you don’t like that the purple one is better isn’t it. Both covers are gorgeous admittedly! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Man the cover for this one is stunning and it’s been on my radar for quite a while. I hope I can get my hands on it very soon! I’ve read pretty positive reviews on Twitter and all over the blogs… Great review, really enjoyed it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, I actually prefer this cover to the US one, I think it fits the book so much better.
      I’ve seen more positive reviews for And I Darken than negative ones and I really hope you enjoy it as well!
      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed my review! 😀

      Like

  2. The cover is very intense, fierce, and strangely is compelling me to read. I love how the princess in this book is actually very strong, and I really want to read just to learn how she faces day to day conflicts, and how she survives in a world that respects, yet is cruel to her. Also, sibling bonds are so beautiful and amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I completely agree. It’s one of the reasons I prefer the UK cover to the US one, it just fits the tone of the book and Lada’s character so much better.
      Lada is not what I would call a typical princess in any sense of the word. She’s cruel and brutal and just amazing, and her relationship with Radu isn’t typical either but I loved their bond.
      I hope you enjoy this book if you do pick it up! 😀

      Like

  3. I was planning to read this book a while ago. I had requested an ARC and didn’t get approved. Then, I saw a ton of negative reviews and thought maybe I should wait. I’m glad you like it. I was thinking about requesting this one from the library if they have it. Nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did get my copy from NetGalley (I won’t call it an ARC just because I got approved for it after it had already been released!) I haven’t actually seen many negative reviews for this book so far, but yeah I did enjoy it. It wasn’t what I expected, and I think I can see why a lot of people didn’t enjoy it, but I’d still recommend it if your library has a copy!
      Thanks Jill! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, great review!! I just wanted to let you, Beth, and TeacherofYA know Kiersten White has said she’s planning a trilogy. Here’s the quote from an interview with http://happyeverafter.usatoday.com/ :

        “Jessie: What can readers expect next in this world?
        Kiersten: And I Darken is the first of a trilogy. Book two — and please pardon my horrible Dracula pun — raises the stakes even higher. Lada will discover the cost of refusing to pretend to be someone she’s not, while Radu suffers the consequences of pretending too much. I also get to overthrow Constantinople, which is always fun!”

        I’m so excited! 🙂

        Also, Beth, that’s a really interesting point that Lada’s perspective gives us more an image of Wallachia, whereas Radu’s gives us the Ottoman cities. I hadn’t thought of it like that, in terms of setting, but you’re totally right! Lada is constantly dwelling on the homeland, its imagery and its political state; whereas Radu enjoys detailing Arabic culture.

        Thanks again for writing this great review! I just reviewed the book on my blog and I’m always keen to see what other book bloggers think of books I’ve just finished.

        -Christy

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks so much, and yeah I guessed this was part of a series, just because of the way it ended. But wow that quote from the interview makes it sound like the second book is going to be a lot more action packed. I can’t wait now!
        I feel both siblings gave a unique look at the different cultures in this book, which I enjoyed reading because even though we didn’t see much of Wallachia it’s like we experienced it through Lada.
        Thanks again yourself, I’m glad you liked my review and I know what you mean, I love reading reviews for books I’ve already read and see what others think of them! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m REALLY looking forward to reading this one soon, already have it sitting pretty on my shelves😊 Once I saw the author interview & heard her describe the characters & inspiration for this world, I was HOOKED! So happy to be seeing so many positive reviews 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a good book, kind of unique as well in that it’s more of a story of Lada’s life rather than anything else. I hadn’t seen that interview but I was hooked on her character’s and the world this book was set in. I think if you’re already excited for it you’ll end up loving this book as well! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yeees SO HAPPY to see that you enjoyed this book as well! I agree with you when you said that you only connected with Mehmed through Lada/Radu — I felt the same way reading it, but I guess I didn’t really care, as I feel like he was more a catalyst character rather than anything else. He was naive for someone who’s sort of in the throne, and if it weren’t for Lada/Radu, I think he’d be long dead.

    I feel like a lot of people say that this book is not what they expected! Do you think (I know it’s hard to define, but I’m SO curious) it was the slow pacing that put you off a little bit? Reading the summary I can see that it reads a little bit more action-centric, but the book itself is actually very character-driven (in my opinion). 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it was a really good one, I’m excited for the second book to be released now!
      It’s possibly because we didn’t see anything from his point of view, so we only really saw him when he was around either Lada and Radu. But I completely agree I think he was really blind to the events happening around him. He would walk blindly to his death if it followed the path of him being the hand of God on Earth.
      I think I probably did expect more of a conventional story if that makes sense, with a big finale, instead it was more of a story of Lada’s life. I still enjoyed it but I think it was just set out differently than I though it would be. I guess other people felt that way as well! 🙂

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      1. Me too! To be fair, I think this book was just a whole lot of introducing the characters and the setting and a little bit of the present-day plot, haha. I can’t wait to see where the next one takes us. 🙂

        Ah yeah, that makes sense! For my part, I was SO taken by her character – I really enjoyed how she hated being a woman and basically cursed herself for it, but then learned that there were strengths that come with it as well. I think that was very well done.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I feel like the second is going to be more action packed just because it feels like all three of the main characters are standing at a major turning point in their lives, especially Lada!
        The book didn’t sugar coat anything did it. I loved that it really showed us how women were treated and it kind of made me understand the lengths Lada was willing to go to a little more as well. 🙂

        Like

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