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.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
This was a book that was on my TBR list during the summer and I managed to finally read it. Let me start by saying that the premise already intrigued me mainly because I do like historical fiction or alternative history, and deals with the Ottoman empire which of course I have had a very vast interest in.
The setting is already good, Kiersten White does a good job at taking us back in the 15th century and the world building was sort of short and to the point. It sorta reminded me of the show Reign, which many calls the CWs answer to Game of Thrones.
Lada is one of my favorites. She is very snarky, independent and can hold her own in a fight. She remained me a lot of Arya Stark and how she is willing to dismiss her gender roles and wants to help in the fight.
Radu, in the beginning of the book, I felt he was way to whiny and complainy. It kinda turned me off with the character a bit. Towards the middle he began to mellow out a bit, mainly due to his relationship with Mehmed. I like that he was a a character who was struggling with his sexuality, especially given the time period, it made his character a bit more interesting and not the whiner that I say in the beginning of the book. Hopefully we see more of that in future books.
Mehmed, at first felt more like a plot device or an object of a love triangle between Lada and Radu, but he did grow on me as the book went on. You can tell that he wants to be sultan, but has to deal with outside forces trying to take that away from him. His mother, I felt was almost Cersei-lite. But there was times in the book that she practically went full Cersei, in trying to teach him how to play the game.
The plot was also very interesting, while you don’t get to see a lot of the war aspect of the book(it is mostly mentioned, but never really seen) I did however like the political intrigue the book had. You see a lot of back handed deals, marriages for political gain and even some betrayals. I sort of proved that you don’t need a lot of action in order to keep the story interesting.
Some of the problems I had with the book, is how the book would jump around, instead of moving in a more cohesive pace. You would see months go by, without much of warning and us readers would have to play catch up with what’s going on.
In the end, As I Darken is a very solid first book, of what could be an amazing series. It has enough political intrigue to keep you interested, and I want to see what happens to the characters.