Now I Rise, by Kiersten White

After And I Darken, the paths taken by the three main characters have diverged. Lada (Vlad the Impaler) has gone back to Europe to try to claim the throne of Wallachia. Mehmed (sultan of the Ottoman Empire) plans to conquer Constantinople. Radu (Lada’s brother and Mehmed’s trusted advisor) is sent into Constantinople as a spy. This book is told in alternating chapters from Lada’s and Radu’s points of view.

I think I enjoyed this book even more than the first. More historical figures are introduced, including Constantine and a female version of Orban (an iron founder and designer of cutting-edge cannon technology) named Urbana. Lines between what is right and wrong grow even more blurred. Lada doubts herself constantly, and compensates by becoming more and more brutal. She is already starting to be recognizable as the famed Vlad the Impaler from history. Radu is living a double life and learning that war is ugly no matter which side you’re on. He doubts his faith in both people and god, and finds no comfort in the loves of his younger, more naive self. Both siblings go through major shifts in character, growing in ways that break them as they age. This is disillusionment at its worst, and it excites me that White is able to pull off these very strong personal stories while also recounting real historical events.

The only disappointing thing was the absence of Mehmed for most of the book. Honestly, I can’t remember if he had sections of the first book told through his eyes or if we just saw him constantly because the three characters were virtually inseparable at the time. Either way, I would have liked to view the situation from his point of view. He has links to Lada both in his adoration for her and in the way he is willing to sacrifice anyone – even those he loves – in order to conquer an area he believes he is destined to rule. Lada, of course, feels the exact same way about Wallachia as Mehmed does about Constantinople, and they both dismiss each other’s desires and justifications as pointless. It’s an interesting parallel that I’d like to see more from on both sides. Additionally, Mehmed is playing a role, a mask of frivolity to hide his real intents from the enemies within his court. Radu constantly despairs about his double identity and the way he’s losing his inner self over time because of this duplicity, and I would love to see if Mehmed is going through the same things. It feels like there are so many things that bind these characters together, beyond just their friendships and childhood history with each other.

I’m really looking forward to the third installment of the series, which I believe is supposed to come out sometime next year.

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
This entry was posted in 2017, Prose, Young Adult and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Now I Rise, by Kiersten White

  1. Michelle says:

    Yay! I always get nervous when friends read books I love. I have NO idea how she is going to end Lada’s story. The real story is tragic for pretty much everyone but Mehmed, so will that be the point where she deviates from history (except for the gender flipping she does) or will she stick to the truth? No matter what, I just love how she has turned this story upside-down by making Vlad a female. I feel almost vindicated in my fascination with the real Vlad. LOL!


  2. Raven & Beez says:

    I’m really looking forward to the third book too! I didn’t know the thing about Urbana being a female version of Orban. That’s a really interesting fact. I’m not a huge fan of Mehmed but it would have been great to see his POV.

    I just reviewed this book over at my blog and would love it if you could check it out 😀


    • Amanda says:

      I liked Mehmed in the first book and would have loved to understand his thought process more in this one. But I can understand the decision too – not much is known about the real Radu, and Lada is obviously a recreation of Vlad, but Mehmed is a well known historical personage and you walk a fine line in having fiction about real people. I’m usually not one for that (as I said in my review of the first book) but I’ve enjoyed the way White has done this so far!

      Liked by 1 person

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