Bright We Burn: The Finale To My Most Loved Series

See reviews for And I Darken and Now I Rise
Bright We Burn
The Conquerors Saga Book Three
Written by Kiersten White
Historical, Alternative History, Young Adult
Published July 16th 2018
400 Pages
Thanks to Penguin Random House Australia
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Haunted by the sacrifices he made in Constantinople, Radu is called back to the new capital. Mehmed is building an empire, becoming the sultan his people need. But Mehmed has a secret: as emperor, he is more powerful than ever and desperately lonely. Does this mean Radu can finally have more with Mehmed and would he even want it?

Lada's rule of absolute justice has created a Wallachia free of crime. But Lada won't rest until everyone knows that her country's borders are inviolable. Determined to send a message of defiance, she has the bodies of Mehmed's peace envoy delivered to him, leaving Radu and Mehmed with no choice. If Lada is allowed to continue, only death will prosper. They must go to war against the girl prince.

But Mehmed knows that he loves her. He understands her. She must lose to him so he can keep her safe. Radu alone fears that they are underestimating his sister's indomitable will. Only by destroying everything that came before, including her relationships, can Lada truly build the country she wants.

Claim the throne. Demand the crown. Rule the world.
The Prince of Wallachia is a revolutionary leader among her European borders, a young woman guiding her beloved country to freedom from the Ottoman Empire.

Lada Dragwyla
Lada Dragwyla is an unprecedented character in young adult literature, malevolent and ferociously inhumane. Raised as a young woman destined for traditional female servitude, Lada has escaped for the freedom of Wallachia, reestablishing control alongside her trusted Emissaries. Her journey is contravened by inequality, ignorance and chauvinism, her position as Prince inconceivable. Lada has established the admiration of her compatriots and an equitable Wallachia.

Radu Dragwyla
Radu Dragwyla is a spiritual and compassionate young man, sheltered from atrocities and brutality until the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman forces. The legitimate heir to the Wallachia throne, Radu circumvented his homeland and responsibilities to advocate for the Mehmed the Conqueror and the Ottoman Empire. Abandoning Lada and the dishevelled, presumably incorrigible, antagonistic relationship. As abandoned children of servitude, Lada and Radu are educated on the Ottoman occupation and prophet Muhammad. Radu embraced the Muslim faith, Lada's determination and defiance captivating Mehmed, the young Ottoman heir.

Mehmed The Conqueror
Mehmed is an aggravating antagonist. As a child heir guided by the Sultan, Mehmed is an idealistic young man possessing grandeur illusions of a region united under Islam. Although Lada and Radu were captivates of the Sultan, Lada establishes a physical relationship with Mehmed creating resentment and hostility in gentle Radu, who is exploring his sexuality. Mehmed often exploits Radu's attraction, therein lies the issue with his character. Appointing Radu as an adviser and attempting to subdue Lada as a compatriot and companion.

Gender Inequality
In Bright We Burn, Lada is tenacious, unrelenting and although aggravated in retaliation, she's accused of genocidal atrocities. Mehmed conquers Constantinople and is applauded and revered for his initiative. As Prince of Wallachia, Lada is held accountable, male counterparts exonerated for the savagery against humanity. Women in positions of domination are inconceivable. Male lineages occupy Europe, women are wives, concubines and adhere to the traditional female roles prevalent throughout the European kingdoms and Lada Dragwyla, a young woman of influence, revolutionising Europe against the Ottoman occupation.

Character Diversity
An amalgamation of religion and sexuality. Muslim, Christian, same sex relationships and Radu's exploration of sexuality and faith. Radu particularly is confronted by the Wallachian Christianity and upon his captivation by the Sultan, embraced Islam by engaging in sessions of prayer and the Holy Month, experiencing the peaceful teaching of Islam throughout Radu's narrative. The gentle relationship between Nazira, her partner Fatima and Radu is exquisite and although society recognises heteronormative relationships, Nazira and Radu share a familial, nonsexual relationship of affection and tenderness.

Historically, Mehmed the Conqueror was rumoured to have been sexually attracted to men which is unclear throughout The Conquerors Saga. Mehmed shares intimate moments with Radu, gentle gesturing, alluding to the rumours that his harem as Sultan contains consenting men for the Sultan's sexual gratification. To disperse rumours, Mehmed ostracises Radu to Constantinople, unclear if Mehmed is sexually attracted to Radu or exploiting the young Dragwyla's affections. 

The Conquerors Saga is a brutal alternative history of the Prince of Wallachia, blending historical fiction with a cruel and calculating antihero that pushes gender roles, stereotypes and labels. A breathtaking, historical alternative of the Ottoman Empire during fifteenth century Europe and an impeccable finale to what is an outstanding young adult series.

Muse of Nightmares

Contains spoilers for Strange The Dreamer. Read my review here.
Muse of Nightmares
Strange the Dreamer Book Two
Written by Laini Taylor
Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Publishing October 2nd 2018
432 Pages
Thank you to Hachette Australia
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Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old. She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise. She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice, save the woman he loves, or everyone else, while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected. Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed, must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this gorgeous sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.
Lazlo Strange perches high above the city in the Citadel where the body of Sarai lies, her soul consumed by the malevolent, warmongering Minya and tethered to the Unseen City. The citadel continues to conceal the history of the Mesarthim and their offspring, the humans of the metropolis enduring captivity and enforced to procreate. Thousands of Mesarthim were slain throughout the Citadel, an eternally preserved mausoleum above the City of Weep.

Siblings Novali and Korako Vasa are interesting characters and indispensable to the narrative. The Mesarthim journeyed provinces and communities pursuing exceptional young individuals for servitude. Novali and Korako are the offspring of Nyoka, a Mesarthim combatant. Korako is a superior being, collared and separated from her sister. The nonlinear narratives converge spectacularly in an abundance of breathtaking revelations.

Lazlo Strange is Mesarthim, orphaned and his identity concealed and now feeling a sense of acceptance and belonging. Lazlo, a child of thousands conceived within the Citadel, created by coercion and a nonconsensual relationship. The abuse is addressed and condemned within the narrative, reiterating the importance of consent. Sarai is tethered to Minya and the Citadel and although her physical body is cremated, her spirit remains corporeal and able to interact with her environment. Including Lazlo. Lazlo and Sarai continue their relationship, able to explore one another within the safety of Lazlo's conscious, lucid dreaming.

The blue of her skin, the silver stars and moon. She was the sky. Heavy, bewitched, he leaned forward and brushed his lips over a star.

An adult captured within perpetual juniority, Minya is an intriguing character and often misunderstood. A tender child as the Citadel was decimated by the Godslayer Eril Fane, Minya is resolved to protect her family, the surviving offspring of the Mesarthim and is acrimoniously vengeful. Although appearing heinous, Minya is a causality of her environment and has nurtured the Godspawn children since infancy. Throughout the narration, Muse of Nightmares touches upon learning from our ancestral transgressions, resolution beginning when we absolve others. Warmongering is not our only recourse. 
Minya's conviction was absolute. The humans has slain her kind. She had stood in the passage and heard the screams dwindle, baby by baby, until silence has reigned. 

Laini Taylor is a remarkable author, weaving imaginative and atmospheric narratives. The lyricism is breathtaking, intricate and incredibly enchanting, transcending fantasy literature. Absolutely exceptional.

I anticipate the beginning of a new adventure.

Whisper of the Tide

Check out my review for Song of the Current
Whisper of the Tide
Song of the Current Book Two
Written by Sarah Tolcser
Fantasy, Adventure, Romance
416 Pages
Published July 2018
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia
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Caro Oresteia spent her life waiting to be called by the river god, as those in her family had been for generations. But when she’s swept away on an adventure to save the Akhaian royal prince, Markos, her destiny is sealed by the sea god instead.

For now, Caro is landlocked, helping Markos reclaim his throne after nearly his entire family was assassinated in a political coup. Without any financial or military support, Markos is desperate for allies, and Caro has fought off more than one attempt on his life. When a powerful Archon offers his army in exchange for Markos’s marriage to his daughter, Caro must choose.

Her love for Markos, or the fate of Akhaia? And more importantly: How much is she willing to risk to defy the sea god’s wishes and chart her own course?

With shipwrecks, lost treasure, old and new enemies, dark magic, and breathtaking romance, Sarah Tolcser weaves another epic story about chasing your fate.
Seventeen year old Caroline Oresteia was a privateer on board the Cormorant, alongside her father, a humbled Wherryman, now evading capture for her thievery upon the everglades of Kynthessa. Caroline is a tenacious young woman, her fortitude is inspiring. Altruistically, she is now assisting Markos as he attempts to converge military and political allies. Markos Andela is the legitimate Emparch of Akhaia, his family slain by Konto Theucinian and displaced from his kingdom.

Mitigation emerges from Lord Pherenekian, Archon of Eryth. A proposal of a fifteen thousand person artillery in exchange for the political union of Markos and his daughter Agnes Pherenekian, an unconventional young woman interested in academics and potential Emparchess. Quite the conundrum for Caroline, conflicted between her fondness for the Prince and a Kingdom in disarray.

Whisper of the Tide is a maritime adventure of resilience and endurance. Generations of Oresteria Wherrymen have been guided by the River God, speaking the language of the Everglades. Except for Caroline, claimed by the Sea Goddess and destined for adventure. The relationship between Caroline and Markos is convoluted and apprehensive, Caroline placing her aspirations aside to preserve the revolution and subjugate Konto Theucinian, while desperately yearning for the wild blue yonder.

A ship was not meant to sit at anchor in the harbor, and neither was I.

The secondary characters are meticulously created, including a former adversary. Cousin and apprentice Shadowman Kenté. Merchant manager Docia Argyrus. Opportunist Sophronia Hypatos. Dido Brilliante the Pirate Queen and capitalist merchant Tamaré Bollard. Distinctly tenacious women who have challenged gender equality and celebrated the female achievement.

Sarah Tolcser has created an enchanting and captivating narrative, an entertaining adventure for the marauder at heart. Avast ye scalawags and buccaneers, all hands ahoy!
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