Title: Bright We Burn
Author: Kiersten White
Series: The Conqueror’s Saga, #3
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Release Date: July 5th 2018
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 has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won’t rest until everyone knows that her country’s borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed’s peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.
But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister’s indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before – including her relationships – can Lada truly build the country she wants.
Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
Lada finally has everything she’s worked so hard to achieve, and is now Wallachia’s prince. Her rule is harsh to those who oppose her but she has created a country free of crime, where her people feel safe to travel the roads without being attacked, so she turns her attention outside her boarders. After what he did there Radu never wants to return to Constantinople, and certainly not while there is still no news from Nazira and Cyprian, but when Mehmed calls him back he has no choice but to go.
After what happened in Now I Rise, and given this is the last book in the trilogy, I was extremely nervous to pick up Bright We Burn; both because of my high expectations and because of the heartbreak I knew was to come. This book picks up immediately after where we left off; told in two POVs we see Radu struggling with the things he had to do in Constantinople, and Lada making firm though brutal statements to prove her control over Wallachian as its prince.
When Lada makes a brutal message of the envoy Mehmed sends her the sultan cannot let her defiance stand, no matter his feelings. If she goes on she will only cause untold death and destruction so Mehmed and Radu go to war to bring her back to them the only way they can, but Lada wants Wallachia free from the Ottoman Empire for good and she’s not afraid to sacrifice her country in the name of winning the battle. Mehmed may have the numbers, but Radu fears the sultan had underestimated his sister.
Bright We Burn was an incredible read that I didn’t want to put down until I’d finished. Everything from the last two books, both Lada’s and Mehmed’s ambition and Radu’s struggle trapped between these two people he loves so much, was building up to this final book and it came together so well. Bright We Burn doesn’t shy away from the terrible things both Lada and Mehmed do, and as the story continues you can see so clearly the path to destruction they are taking both themselves and their countries down.
Lada has always loved Wallachia more than anything, it’s her heart and she’s determined to make the country a force to be reckoned with. Her loyalty to her people is returned tenfold as she weeds out the crime and corruption from within, but her blunt desire to win rather than strategize causes tension. Through all her battles Lada has had her loyal Janissaries at her side, but as she becomes more and more determined to be free from the Ottoman Empire, with no strings left to pull her back, the more she sees cracks forming in the foundation of some of her firmest relationships.
In this book, with Radu back at his side once more, we see who Mehmed is as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Now he has control of Constantinople he has turned it into a thriving city, but he is determined not to make the mistakes his father did and he allows none of his people too close to him. He’s lonely, and the only person he can be himself with is Radu.
As characters both Lada and Mehmed are very similar, they both want power and are willing to do anything to get it. They love one another but neither are willing to compromise on what they want so their few meetings in Bright We Burn are full of fire as they clash with one another and battle for control of the situation and the battlefield. Mehmed doesn’t want to kill Lada, but he fears for her life if she continues the way she has been. He just wants her back with him and Radu, safe, the three of them together like when they were children.
Radu has been a favourite character of mine throughout this trilogy and in this book he had some beyond incredible development. After everything he did in Constantinople Radu has changed, he still loves Mehmed but he’s slowly realising it’s not love like Nazira shares with her wife, love that he could have had with Cyprian. The last thing Radu wants is to go back to Wallachia, it was never part of his heart the way it was Lada’s, but he knows his sister, knows how she thinks though even he is surprised by the lengths she is willing to go to.
The relationship between Lada and Radu was powerful reading though heartbreaking in its own way in Bright We Burn. Lada needs Radu, needs someone with his knowledge of how to play the political games by her side, but he chose Mehmed which she can’t forgive. Still she loves him in her own slightly twisted way. In the end I think the battle of wills was always going to come down to between Radu and Lada, both believe they are doing what’s best, they’re just doing it in very different ways.
In Bright We Burn the trilogy finally takes us solely to Wallachia the country which has been Lada’s heart and soul since the very beginning. We see a lot of the country as Mehmed and Radu start their fight towards the capital, but far from the paradise Lada always imagined Wallachia to be she has turned her country into a formidable battlefield. She proves she is willing to destroy all of Wallachia if it means she can rule free of anyone else’s say. I can’t say much as to how accurate Bright We Burn (or this trilogy in general) is when it comes to the history of Vlad the Impaler, or Wallachia and the Ottoman Empire, but the tension between the two countries was definitely well written and expanded on as a Lada seeks to free Wallachia from its current situation as vassal to Mehmed.
There was a lot to wrap up in this last book, and I was prepared for a beyond heartbreaking ending for all three characters, but I thought Bright We Burn was a satisfying end to Lada’s, Mehmed’s and Radu’s stories. Everything they’d been building to throughout the series was expanded on and tied up, and the ending was more bittersweet than wholly bitter which is something at least.
What did you think of Bright We Burn? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.