In this sequel to And I Darken, Lada and her brother Radu have parted ways, she with her small band of warriors to try to claim the throne of Wallachia, which she is a rightful heir to, and he to stay with Mehmed, the young sultan of the Ottomans. Lada misses Mehmed and their fiery, strong relationship but has many mixed emotions about him. Radu is in love with Mehmed himself, so he stays with him partly out of love and partly because he has little desire to return to his homeland. But Mehmed has distanced himself from Radu, and shortly into this book, Mehmed sends Radu to the city of Constantinople to work as a spy for him. Mehmed’s great dream is to conquer that great city, though neither Radu nor Lada care for his ambition or understand it.
Lada has not been able to gain the throne with peaceful, diplomatic means, so she terrorizes the countryside to get people’s attention. She does realize soon, however, that she could use Radu’s help. Radu, at the same time, in his unwanted position as spy in Constantinople, realizes he could use his sister’s particular talents. Neither, however, goes to the aid of the other, and they must try to think like the other.
Lada becomes more and more ruthless, and Radu is torn between the new friends he makes in the city of Constantinople (including one who could become more than just a friend) and his utter devotion to Mehmed. As Mehmed goes to any lengths to obtain his ambition, Radu is dismayed by his actions, and as he learns more about the rumors that swirl about the sultan’s personal life, he wonders if Mehmed is toying with him.
Now I Rise follows the diverging paths of the siblings, alternating between their viewpoints and experiences in two different places. But Mehmed and his actions loom large over both of them through the whole book. As a full-scale war draws ever nearer in Constantinople, both Lada and Radu are affected. What are they each willing to sacrifice of their ambitions, of their beliefs, of their loyalties to each other and to Mehmed? And will victory be hollow?
This book is a strong follow-up to And I Rise. I still wonder how the story will conclude, and how much Lada will become a truly depraved and horrific person, like Vlad the Impaler, whom she is patterned after. I’m ever curious to see how this all plays out.
Rated: High. There is not much in the way of language. There is one sex scene that is fairly brief but somewhat detailed and pretty intense. What really gives this book a higher rating is the constant violence. The body count is high and there is just so much that happens throughout the book by varied means. It’s pretty detailed and qualifies for a high rating for the young adult audience it is written for. I might give it just a moderate if it were adult fiction.
* I received an advance reader’s e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.