Published by Random House Children's Books on July 10th 2018
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“Disrupt stability. Petition for gold. Provoke the greatest empire on the face of the earth.” He paused. “This is going to be fun.”
Oh, it was. So much bloody, nasty fun.
I have really loved this series. I mean, why wouldn’t I? There’s a murderous antiheroine who’s definitely more anti than heroine. There’s battles and backstabbing and unrequited love. There’s alt-history that’s – let’s face it – a lot more alt than history. There’s Vlad the Impaler reimagined as a woman. In other words, this series is almost everything I’ve always wanted.
I say almost because Kiersten White is publishing literally everything I have always wanted next year: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3…
In this book, we pick up right where we left off in Now I Rise. Lada is, unsurprisingly, on a murderous rampage, making many powerful enemies and a few important allies as she goes along. White pushes the limits on how much sympathy we can have for a character who is borderline villain, but I personally adored Lada to the end.
“The empire is coming for us, and I intend to win.”
While I doubt I would have had the same sympathies for the real, male Vlad, I think the author captured Lada’s frustrations with the limitations of being a woman really well. She is obviously a very screwed up, disturbed person, and it was impossible for me to not feel sympathy for her. Even when she is at her worst (which is 95% of the time). And I love that, even though she is incredibly strong, she also has moments of weakness and self-doubt that remind us of her underlying humanity.
True to the character of this series, this final installment is action-packed and gory. Tensions between Lada, Radu and Mehmed reach an all-time high, with their affections for one another never far behind their animosity. Such page-turning goodness!
I love that this series positively portrays both a gay romance and Islam. Radu and Cyprian offer some light in an otherwise very dark trilogy, as does the respectful handling of various faiths (or lack of, in Lada’s case). We need this warmth to counter the ever-growing pile of bodies and the tension created by the approaching climax.
War made monsters of them all.
Of course, I won’t tell you anything that could spoil the ending, but I found it a very satisfying conclusion. White wraps things up just as they should be, in my opinion, with the perfect balance of historical fact and artistic license.