Genre: historical fiction, alternate history
Published June 28th 2016 by Delacorte Press
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, 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.
|I’m torn on the rating of this book because at first I was enthralled by the idea of this plot. I was ensnared within the first few pages, but then it grew stagnant and while things constantly happened it was really nothing at all. Even though those small things, later on, amounted to everything. Every little moment that happened in this book contributes to the overall story.
And so much little happens in the book that adds up to the bigger picture. At times I felt utterly bored with the story and how it went nowhere – except it did and does. Every moment Lada spends forming her calculations mounts up to her epic moments. From the time she is a cruel, vicious girl to her young womanhood in these times where women are perceived as property, as something to bear children and bear no thoughts. Lada doesn’t stand for this and defies society’s views left and right. Her views of those who disrespect her simply because she was born a female are a testament to her strength and wisdom beyond years.
While her vicious quality can be tiresome, it is who she is and she remains true to herself, even when faced with passion, she does not betray her beliefs.
The overall story was rather complex and constructed in such a manner. You feel as if you have plunged into the world of the Ottoman empire along with Lada and her brother Radu. I enjoyed reading the story in both of their tones, the way Radu grew and still remained true to himself, too. The world building was appropriate for a tale that was based around character development.
I really did enjoy this book, because the tone was so dark, Lada was so twisted. She is an obsessive creature, cold and withdrawn from tender sensibilities because she never wants to be seen as weak or having a weakness.
Which is why this is a difficult book to rate because it was good it was soo good but it was also drawn out. I don’t think I began to really devour the book until a little over 200 pages. After that, I just began to gulp it down.
Not at all a fantasy read, but it’s an alternate historical fiction with an unending game of thrones. If you’re into political intrigue, warfare, historical fiction and strong female characters, this is definitely for you.
To date, what is your favorite historical read? Or an alternate take on history?