Saturday, August 25, 2018

BRIGHT WE BURN (The Conqueror's Saga #3) by Kiersten White

AUTHOR: Kiersten White -- Twitter | Website
PUBLISHED: July 10, 2018 by Delacorte (Penguin Random House)
GENRE: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
PAGES: 416
Find it on Goodreads

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.

When I started this book I felt very clear of one thing: There is no way Mehmed, Radu, and Lada would make it all out alive.

It was also obvious that Lada would not take kindly to being told how to rebuild HER Wallachia.

I will say that my initial conviction was, in a way, true. But I won't spoil you (those will be below the jump).

Bright We Burn was everything the ending to a complex, deeply woven fantasy should be. It also saw all the characters finally being true to themselves. Lada was always true to herself, but Radu denied himself certain things because he was blindsided by his love for Mehmed, and Mehmed, even though he awarded Wallachia to Lada, was not happy by the way she was ruling and was ready and willing to go to war, as it seemed the son of Murad was always in the mindset for.

Early in the novel, we learn from some peasants about Prince Lada and how she is perceived -- and everyone in Wallachia, minus the boyars -- are starting to experience prosperity in the way Lada intended.

This was extremely fulfilling, right from the beginning, to see that she was able to do what she set out to do. That her gut instincts were leading her people to a better tomorrow. And she was doing what no prince had done before, yet she was a WOMAN. Once again, the feminist tone could not possibly be ignored.

It also sees Radu finally choose HIMSELF over Mehmed in so many ways, which was so incredibly refreshing. To me, he'd gotten a little annoying, but seeing him finally take a stand or some things was really satisfying.

I gave this final installment 5 HEARTS because I felt it successfully wrapped up the story and each character's story line.

Here's where it gets spoilery ...
From the beginning of the book (and really the end of Now I Rise), Mehmed has requested an audience with Lada, which she denies by killing all the Janissaries Mehmed sent to deliver the message and escort her and sends them back in boxes. Next, when Lada is expecting a visit from Radu, she instead finds herself face to face with Kumal Pasha, who she has long harbored a grudge against, as she sees him as a wedge between her and Radu. So she murders him.

All the while Radu is off in Bursa -- he has finally heard from someone that Nazira is there and that she is safe after only just escaping the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans.

After her actions, Mehmed and Radu have no choice but to fight Lada with the intent of reinstalling one of the Danesti brothers to the throne. While Lada's men and her clever trickery send him through a landscape of pitfalls and problems at every turn, seriously delaying their trip to Tirgoviste, they do eventually arrive to find the palace empty. Lada and her people -- all of them, soldiers, families, peasants, are all at the fortress in the mountain.

But none of this happens before Lada, like a moth to a flame, finds Mehmed again and they sleep together. They negotiate the terms of a treaty, but Lada rethinks it and nearly kill Mehmed in the process -- and Radu nearly kills Lada.

Not long after she and her people make it to the fortress, she is captured by Matthias, King of Hungary, who imprisons her and puts her nurse to work in the kitchen. Luckily, Stefan has been posing as a cleaning worker, and after nearly four months, she escapes, and discovers that she is with Mehmed's child -- though she couldn't been 100% sure until after she was born, since she was sleeping with Bogdan, too.

Together, Radu eventually finds a way to end the war and install first, himself as prince, but then, eventually reinstating Lada. And when she gives birth, she gives the baby to Radu, Nazira, Fatima, and Cyprian, Radu's husband-to-be.

I think the most satisfying part of this book was that Radu finally found love -- true love, not one-sided love.

I do wish we got to see more of Lada's daughter as she was growing up. The prologue was too little, too fast for me.

But despite that, I still give this novel 5 HEARTS!

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