Lada is a princess — but she is strong and fierce. When she and her brother Radu are given as hostages to the Ottoman Empire, Lada is determined to do whatever it takes to get vengeance. But as time passes, both Lada and Radu must make choices that will change the fate of their country.
I have heard a lot about this series, and I am so pleased that I finally got around to reading it. It was a fabulous book, and I was drawn in from the very first moment. I was really worried that there was going to be a lot of romance, and a love triangle, so I was pleasantly surprised when it ended up not being what I thought.
First off, this is not historical fiction in the strictest sense. It is more of an alternate history, and therefore I’ve put it under both the labels of fantasy and historical fiction. It’s a very intriguing combination, because at first there is almost nothing that gives it away that it isn’t the one that actually happened. I think White did that well. I know there are some (totally acceptable) complaints about how the names aren’t right. As I don’t know much about that, I can’t say anything to it. But I will acknowledge that there are apparently some issues regarding that.
Overall, world building wise, I think it was splendid. I was drawn into these worlds, and I wanted to know more about them immediately.
Let her be strong. Let her be sly.
From the first very first moment we’re introduced to Lada, we are told that her only purpose will be marriage, and we learn Lada will do anything to prevent that from happening. She has decided to become a fierce warrior, and to that end she has no patience for her younger brother Radu, who cries at everything. Lada is a no-holds-barred unrepentant bad person. She goes out of her way to be cruel to people, including her “friends”. She doesn’t even pretend — she’s just a mean character. She wants to be the ruler of all — and she doesn’t care what she has to do. It is a refreshingly different take on the normal books I read, and I loved the fact that Lada was unlike all the other characters I read.
Radu is the exact opposite. He is sweetness, and from a young age, he desires to just love and make friends. He doesn’t seem to particularly care about anything in particular. Radu’s arc in this book gives me shivers. I love it, because we get so much unexpected things from him — great things. He is one of the most powerful characters in the series. And I loved him.
Love was a plague.
In this case it is for both our main characters. They are embroiled in love they don’t want — or do want — and they have no idea what to do about it. I don’t want to give too much away about the romance/love subplots, because it is done so well in the book, and you want to be surprised by those portions! It makes it a fantastic read.
We defy death, to grow.
This quote really encompasses much of what the plot of the book is about. These two characters must stave off death and harm to survive in this other court, and they will do it by any means necessary. The plot itself was action driven when it came to “events” but it was really about the characters and the choices they made.
What an amazing book, and I can’t wait until I can read the next one in the series!