Thursday, May 3, 2018

Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Lada and Radu are still at odds. Radu is reeling over the horror he saw in Constantinople and continues to see through Mehmed's manipulations. He's constantly stuck between Lada and Mehmed as they wage their wars. Lada is ruling as she sees fit, harshly punishing all crimes no matter how noble the criminal. Her people, especially the poor, support her unconditionally because she follows through with her promises, redistributes land to the poor, and has basically abolished crime. However, those that follow her don't feel right bucking tradition or no longer wish to follow her rule. Lada has to ask herself if her actions are for Wallachia and how far she is willing to go to rule the country she wants.

Bright We Burn skates an interesting line that has me rooting for both Radu and Lada even though they are more at odds in this book than any other. Lada is my absolute favorite. She becomes a little more self reflective in this installment. Her rash actions come from selfishness and pride rather than for the good of Wallachia and she eventually recognizes it. Many of her actions are successful like completely blazing her own way regardless of tradition. Power flows from her down instead of always being held by boyars who stay prince after prince. Her rigidity in regards to justice and rewarding loyalty make the people fiercely loyal in turn, almost to a fanatical degree. She never underestimates anyone and makes use of all of her resources that others would overlook or find distasteful. Many might find Lada's actions questionable or pushing too far, but she does what's necessary to protect her people and keep her country from falling into the wrong hands.

Radu, on the other hand, is quite changed from the last book. The horrors of Constantinople weigh on him and he still doesn't know if his lover and wife are even alive. He's caught in the same triangle between Mehmed and Lada's conflict as he always has. Mehmed's patterns of manipulation are much more transparent to him and Radu finds himself falling out of love with him. Being in constant conflict isn't for him and he wants peace sometime in his life. He's tired of the same old power plays in court even though he still deftly navigates them. I feel for him and his frustration, but I still feel he's on the wrong side as he plots against Lada. He doesn't wish to hurt her, but sees her takeover of Wallachia as a dangerous folly. I wish he would recognize her amazing qualities instead of trying to save her from herself. 

Bright We Burn is an amazing novel that ties up the story beautifully. The final ending seemed to deviate from the rest of the series and was slightly disappointing in its view of Lada. Literally everything else was amazing. The most wonderful thing was to see so many women in all sorts of roles doing whatever they could to exert their power and influence in such an oppressively patriarchal system. It shows that while Lada is an outlier in some ways, so many women are just as capable and powerful. I never thought I would get into this series, but I read each installment the minute I got it. Kiersten White infuses her characters with such humanity and emotion that even the war stuff, which usually bores me, had me at the edge of my seat. I highly recommend this whole series.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

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