This vividly rendered novel is like HBO's Game of Thrones if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story's atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters. Fans of Victoria Aveyard's The Red Queen, Kristin Cashore's Graceling, and Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes won't want to miss this visceral, immersive, and mesmerizing novel, the first in a trilogy.
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who's expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he's made a true friend - and Lada wonders if she's finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against - and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
From New York Times best-selling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled, and hearts will be broken.
©2016 Kiersten White (P)2016 Listening Library
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Critic reviews

"Full of sword fights, assassination plots, and palace intrigues, this novel is ambitious in scope and concept and reveals a fascinating, important, and somewhat obscure slice of history...the novel is breathtakingly good." ( School Library Journal)
"White deftly weaves historical fact into this complex concoction of love, war, politics, homosexuality, religion, loyalty, and friendship." ( Booklist)
"A dark jewel of a story, one that gleams with fierce, cunning characters - absolutely riveting." (Alexandra Bracken, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Passenger)
"Fiona Hardingham’s commanding narration steers a clear path through this densely woven tapestry of mid-fifteenth-century intrigue.... Hardingham’s resonant voice keeps listeners firmly grounded as a strange and destructive triangle of friendship and love develops, with forays into murder, lust, and homosexuality." ( AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Georgina Hollaway on 12-09-16

Narration lacked flow but story was perfect

The narration seemed clumsy, clunky and strange. Every time a name is said it sounds like it was prerecorded so there is no flow to the narration. Her voice is a little grating but still the story was great enough that it didn't dampen too much. If the narration was changed it would have been perfect.
Lada is ruthless, fierce and a force to be reckoned with. No protagonist comes close to what Lada is and this is only the beginning.
This is a retelling of the Ottoman Empire with real people but fictional tales. Vlad the Impaler has been gender bent to Lada!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Lyndsey T. on 28-03-17

Brilliant retelling of the Vlad the Impaler story

I enjoyed this even more than I expected, it starts off a bit confusing with all the names and places, but it quickly becomes gripping and exciting. Lada is a fascinating protagonist, and an interesting twist on the original Vlad, being a teenage girl. The story starts with her as a young girl and runs until she's about 18 I think, and focuses mostly on Lada but also her brother Radu and their best friend Mehmed. It's well researched and richly detailed, seems quite accurate historically (with the exception of Lada being female and everything) and is a really interesting story. The action is relatively little, with more on the characters and their development, but the major events are exciting and tense. I would definitely recommend this if you love a book with a strong female lead, lots of history and culture, and a plenty of secret plots and assassination attempts.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By joanne on 08-07-16

Unique, beautiful, and eye opening

This is not a European fairytale. It is a glimpse into the Ottoman Empire and the lives of two abandoned royal children traded for political stability. Raised to choose brutality instead of fear, this story follows a brother , a sister, and the sultans son through their relationships, the politics of their time, and their own personal desires and aspirations

If you want a neatly packaged love story this book is not for you. But if you will let the authors story open new worlds and perspectives for you... You are in for a rare tale. Harsh without traumatizing the reader.

I'm glad to have read it. The story begged me to lay it down and take a break bc of the heart ache but I couldn't leave it alone.

It is a fabulous stand alone tale but I can see epic potential as a series. I just need some sugar and a nap before I can commit to more.

Remarkable subtle explanations are powerful and yet avoid being vulgar. I appreciated the depth of the relationships. Fascinating and powerful

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Alexis - Fantasy Fanatic on 21-07-16

Not what I expected but very well written

And I Darken follows the life of a sister and brother who are taken as collateral in the father's treaty agreement with a foreign country in exchange for military support in holding on to his thrown. The older sister is fierce and determined, while her little brother has a heart that longs for friendship and acceptance. In this foreign land they must learn the skills that the other posses. As with some families, they drift apart and find that they are stronger together. But reconciling isn't easy. It's hard for the siblings to accept the faults of the other.

This story is beautifully written. Though a bit slow at times there is a real depth to the feelings of these young characters. My heart broke for Radu who will do anything for someone to call him friend. And then, he finds that he doesn't have a traditional love. The story touches on alot of sensative topics. It was not what I expected after reading the summary. It delves into the relationship between religion and politics. If these are turn offs for you, then I wouldn't purchase this book.

One last praise to the author in her character development. It was really done well. If you enjoy historical literature or stories around politics and governing this will be a good choice. If these are not things that peek your interest then I'd suggest taking a pass on this one.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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