And I Darken (The Conqueror’s Trilogy) Paperback – 31 August 2016
|Paperback, 31 August 2016||
Preloaded Digital Audio Player, Unabridged, Import
Epic and intense . . . fans of dark history [will be] hooked from the outset. Think Game of Thrones transported to the Ottoman Empire ― Lovereading4kids.co.uk
It's delicious ― bustle.com
Fierce and dark . . . A superb offering ― theyoungfolks.com
Lada – so ugly and mean that readers will adore her – stubbornly rejects gender roles . . . and the characters . . . benefit from complex motivations and an unconventional love triangle. Addictive intrigue ― Kirkus
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- Publisher : Random House UK (31 August 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0552573744
- ISBN-13 : 978-0552573740
- Reading age : 12 - 16 years
- Item Weight : 280 g
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #165,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from India
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Okay writter writes so many characters and so long saga saught of I wanna know how she manages to do so. Write so long all character put story in a exact place....good different read. Loved it
The quality of the book was more or less good, though I find Flipkart preferable to Amazon in terms of product packaging and overall quality.
I can't wait to read the next book.
Kiersten White picked up the greatest Ottoman war-mongering adventurer and alleged tyrant Mehmed the Conqueror, the cruel Vlad the Impaler (this dude inspired Dracula's character) and his just and little known brother Radu, a rich Ottoman culture, and weaved a personal and engaging YA fiction around it.
Young Mehmed is an emotionally struggling boy with no future and no respect. But we know this is the boy who would grow up and at the ridiculously young age of 21, end up swallowing kingdoms with formidable god-like status: Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire.
And when we meet Ladislav, it takes only a little while to guess this is Vlad the Impaler in the making. Only in this alternate version of history, she is a girl, which makes this story far more interesting than it would have been had he been a boy.
Radu, however, is the most complex and politically shrewd character.
Kiersten White threads history with fiction and a complex romantic triangle so well together that at the end, history buffs and literary critics wouldn't much care about the flaws in the book and dive deeper and finish it through and end up craving for more.
Top reviews from other countries
I thought this was a well written book, a complicated plot explained well. However, particularly at it's beginning and less so towards it's climax the story didn't 'flow'. It was more like reading a series of diary entrances rather than a plot. Incidents were described without the dots being particularly joined. I was pleased to note this diminished and ceased altogether as the book progressed. Almost as though the author planned to use all these incidents to establish the rationale of the major characters but wasn't quite sure how to paste over the gaps between highlights, so decided not to bother and rushed onward toward the meet of the story. Did it matter? Hell no a great book was born. Can I ignore it? Well obviously personally I can't hence 4/5 stars,
Vlad is now Lada, the bold, ugly, daughter of the shifty voivode of Wallachia. This book (first in a trilogy) takes Lada and her little brother Radu – to whom history gave a kinder reputation and the nickname ‘the Handsome’ – from childhood in Sighisoara and Tirgoviste, to adolescence as political hostages in the Ottoman court, where they grow up alongside one of the Ottoman sultan’s sons, Mehmed.
White has written a fabulous political thriller, with a side-helping of YA love-triangle served up absolutely fresh: Lada’s growing and suppressed attraction to Mehmed, his arrogant yet sincere affection for her, and breaking my heart all over the page, Radu’s reluctant and all-consuming love for Mehmed.
It’s a gripping tale, and White doesn’t shirk the detail and intricacies of court and military life. The story propels you along – you pause only to admire delicious turns of phrase. When an ally is shot during an ambush, the victim ‘looked up at Radu, a half smile on his face as though the arrow were the end of the joke he had been in the middle of telling. And then he fell off his horse, tangling under the wheels of the supply wagon behind them.’
The book holds many more rewards, not least a wonderfully nuanced depiction of Islam, and a gorgeous little F/F romance glowingly illuminated in the margins. White brings to life not simply her protagonists, but their whole milieu. I loved Lada, Mehmet, Kumal and Nazira – and especially Radu – and can’t wait for the second in this series.
It was also bloody brilliant and definitely would make me consider reading more YA historical fiction.
Lada and her brother Radu are the children of Dracul, head of Wallachia. They’ve lived all their young lives there, Lada doing everything she could to get her father’s approval and Radu doing what he could to stay out of the way of his bully of an older brother. But one day their father travels with them to meet the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire before proceeding to leave his children hostage there, to be raised in the foreign court. During their stay, they become friends with the Sultan’s son Mehmed and make friends with the Janissaries, the soldiers conscripted from a young age from all over the empire.
Roughly the first third of the book takes place when they are all around the ages of ten to thirteen. I loved the book already by that point but some of those bits had me sitting there clinging to the book in terror of what might happen as these children were thrust into situations they seemed far too young to handle. But already it was impossible not to love Lada: not blessed with her mother’s pretty face, Lada makes me for what others see as lacking in sheer spirit and viciousness. And yet, despite how infuriating she can be—especially later on—I adored Lada. She is brave and unrelenting and uncompromising and so very strong. Meanwhile Radu is her softer counterpart, intelligent and quiet, he observes and learns to manoeuvre the court of their enemy with the efficiency his sister moves around a battlefield.
The story is mostly one of political intrigue and romance with both Radu and Lada gravitating around Mehmed and learning to reconciliate—or not—their feelings for each other, the Sultan’s son, Islam, and the country they were forced to live in by their father. And I Darken is a story with heart. Each character is exquisitely crafted with all the contradictions that humans are made of, and become tangled in each other’s desires and needs.
I loved the book from the start, there was something about how real everything felt, how much I could connect with the land and characters described that really whisked me away and into the story. But I truly fell in love with this story about a third of the way through, when we skip a few years to re-join Lada, Radu, and Mehmed when they’re older teens. That’s when the political intrigue also really kicks in and oh boy those were my favourite parts.
White writes beautifully, capturing the essence of the time and places she describes, building characters in a few strokes of words so that everyone we so much as encounter at a glance has a story behind them. It is hard not to fall in love with the places she presents us in the book, all so alive with history and people.
What meant most for me in And I Darken was the fact that Radu is gay. He is also one of the two main characters. And neither if he the only LGBTQ+ character in the pages of this book. There are other gay and lesbian characters that move around him. His storyline is both beautiful and heart breaking and was also very close to my heart.
Warning: minor spoiler ahead but I have to gush about that scene.
There is this one moment in which Radu sees his sister kissing Mehmed and that’s the cinching moment where he realises he is gay, something he hadn’t fully understood until that point, and was a little frightened of. The scene is from his point of view, that turning moment when his world turns upside down and he realises that he cannot have the man he loves. It is, for me, one of the most poignant scenes in the entire book. Why? Because I have been there. I, too, wasn’t exactly sure I was gay until the guy I happened to like at the time came back to where we were rooming together to tell me he’d kissed a girl who was a mutual friend whilst on the tube with her. The emotions White writes for Radu may as well have been mine on that day. It was so very powerful to find this in a book, to feel so strangely comforted in that my experience was not a lone thing.
I love that White included LGBT+ characters in her work even though we are very much in a historical setting with no supernatural elements. It was nice to see someone recognise that we have always been there, no matter how much people have tried to erase us out of history.
And I Darken is a book I want to recommend to everyone. Even if you don’t read historical fiction, even if you usually, like me, favour things with magic and dragons and vampires, you should read this book. This story didn’t magic and vampires because the characters that inhabit it are too wonderful, too deep and interesting not to fall in love with. I adored Lada, but I must admit to be more than a little in love with sweet, lovely Radu.
I am deeply ambivalent about this book. I personally give it 3 stars because it really didn't take me a month to read - I just found it really easy to put down, sometimes for days at a time. On the other hand I acknowledge that for concept, execution, voice, structure, characterization it deserves 4.5 stars.
I didn't like any of the characters but I still rooted for them. I cared what happened to them. It was a really original idea to make 'Vlad' a girl, 'Lada' instead. Working in the twisted love triangle with no right answers and no happy ending in a backdrop of political intrigue and deceit was a stroke of genius. But it was incredibly slow paced. Maybe I picked this up at the wrong time - it never pretends to be anything other than a politically, character driven alternate history. However for every page that really gripped me there were ten following pages of 'meh'.
I love the idea and the writing is flawless but this isn't a book I would re-read. Hats off to Keirsten White though, this has to be the most original and emotionally complicated book I've read this year.
This story is not fast paced, but boy does it take you on a journey. The character development is exquisitely executed, leaving you with a real understanding of the complexities behind each characters decisions and motivations. The plot, whilst based on the historical accounts of Vlad the Impaler, has many twists and turns that will leave you wanting more.
I savoured this book but the resorted to greedily devouring the second instalment in the trilogy, because it leaves to you so invested in the characters. Highly recommend.