Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Review by: Tina
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.
Right from the start, I heard great things about this book. It spurred me to begin on it immediately and I feverishly tore into it. I think what happens when reading reviews is you tend to have more expectation. I waited and waited and I don't see it.
What delights me about this story is it's set in the Ottoman Empire. I've always loved reading about Anatolia (Asia Minor Turkey). Fantastic stories of revolutions and conquers come from there.
What annoys me is the brother sister dynamic. The siblings are complete yin and yang of each other yet their personalities balance each other so well. They are more well rounded people when together.
What frustrates me is this third. This third person introduced into the story that becomes the friend, the glue, the love, the pain that turns the duo into a trio. (Not a triangle, a trio). And the changes that takes place when the three grow from children into adulthood.
I yearn for the hero of the story to be something more. The girl loses her spunk and her sense of self. Where is the spitfire, the biter, the proud little 5 year old, and the dreamer and dragon daughter? So in reflection of that, the story dragged for me because I was kept waiting for her story to begin. I can't express how disappointed I am with this book. It didn't give me enough to produce a happy emotion. Even if the book extends a couple hundred more pages, it will capture the essence of the beginning plot. It took a very wide circle to come back to where it all began.