Monday, July 2, 2018

ARC Review: Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Title: Bright We Burn (The Conqueror's Saga #3)
Author: Kiersten White
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 416
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Reviews for book 1 & book 2

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.

And I Darken was my biggest surprise favorite of 2016 and Now I Rise was one of my top three of 2017. I knew before I even got my hands on Bright We Burn that it would be one of my absolute favorites of the year, but I honestly wasn't even prepared for how amazing it was!

This book picks up right where Now I Rise leaves off. Lada is bulldozing her way through the countryside leaving bloody, violent messages everywhere she goes. Mehmed, still with the feelings, wants to work with her, which she (of course) sees as him wanting to rule her. And, as usual, Radu is there in the middle trying to keep the peace.

Lada, as always, is strong and ruthless and wonderful. There are glimpses of vulnerable and unsure Lada, but inevitably pushes it down for the sake of Wallachia. This could be seen as a huge character flaw, and sure Lada isn't a morally wonderful character, but she would not be herself if she allowed her emotions to cloud her actions, and I love her for it. There were moments in this book when I actually pitied Lada because it's so obvious that she does WANT to do what's best for her people, but doesn't always know the best way to get there.

Radu's story continues with him constantly torn between his loyalty to Mehmed and his love for his sister. His relationship with Mehmed is so multifaceted and has come such a long, long way since book one. I felt for him on so many levels as he tried do what was best for each of them without destroying anything that he loved.

Honestly, I can't choose a favorite character because they're all so incredibly written. I know that, way back in book one, some people had issues with how early in Lada and Radu's lives the narrative began, showing them throughout their childhood. Usually I have an issue with books that are slow paced or give too much detail. However, in the And I Darken series, it is absolutely warranted. All of the characters are so intricately tied together and knowing how each relationship originated and progressed makes this book so much more impactful.

This book is dark. It's brutal and gory and focuses around an inevitable war and it's awful consequences. Still, amid the darkness, there is romance and love and friendship. While it isn't fast-paces, there is a steady, tense build up to the battles and bloodshed that are certainly coming. Bright We Burn isn't always an easy book to read, but it is a perfect ending to this series. I can't say much without spoilers, but Kiersten White managed to wrap this series up in a way that was deeply satisfying, but still left me heartbroken.

If you enjoyed the other books in this series, you will love this book. This series is not for everyone and I can appreciate why some people will not enjoy it. For me, though, these books will forever have a space on my favorites shelf!