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Publisher's Summary

This vividly rendered novel is like HBO's Game of Thrones if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story's atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters. Fans of Victoria Aveyard's The Red Queen, Kristin Cashore's Graceling, and Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes won't want to miss this visceral, immersive, and mesmerizing novel, the first in a trilogy.

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, who's expected to rule a nation, 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.

From New York Times best-selling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled, and hearts will be broken.

©2016 Kiersten White (P)2016 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"Full of sword fights, assassination plots, and palace intrigues, this novel is ambitious in scope and concept and reveals a fascinating, important, and somewhat obscure slice of history...the novel is breathtakingly good." (School Library Journal)
"White deftly weaves historical fact into this complex concoction of love, war, politics, homosexuality, religion, loyalty, and friendship." (Booklist)
"A dark jewel of a story, one that gleams with fierce, cunning characters - absolutely riveting." (Alexandra Bracken, number-one New York Times best-selling author of Passenger)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Unique, beautiful, and eye opening

This is not a European fairytale. It is a glimpse into the Ottoman Empire and the lives of two abandoned royal children traded for political stability. Raised to choose brutality instead of fear, this story follows a brother , a sister, and the sultans son through their relationships, the politics of their time, and their own personal desires and aspirations

If you want a neatly packaged love story this book is not for you. But if you will let the authors story open new worlds and perspectives for you... You are in for a rare tale. Harsh without traumatizing the reader.

I'm glad to have read it. The story begged me to lay it down and take a break bc of the heart ache but I couldn't leave it alone.

It is a fabulous stand alone tale but I can see epic potential as a series. I just need some sugar and a nap before I can commit to more.

Remarkable subtle explanations are powerful and yet avoid being vulgar. I appreciated the depth of the relationships. Fascinating and powerful

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Not what I expected but very well written

And I Darken follows the life of a sister and brother who are taken as collateral in the father's treaty agreement with a foreign country in exchange for military support in holding on to his thrown. The older sister is fierce and determined, while her little brother has a heart that longs for friendship and acceptance. In this foreign land they must learn the skills that the other posses. As with some families, they drift apart and find that they are stronger together. But reconciling isn't easy. It's hard for the siblings to accept the faults of the other.

This story is beautifully written. Though a bit slow at times there is a real depth to the feelings of these young characters. My heart broke for Radu who will do anything for someone to call him friend. And then, he finds that he doesn't have a traditional love. The story touches on alot of sensative topics. It was not what I expected after reading the summary. It delves into the relationship between religion and politics. If these are turn offs for you, then I wouldn't purchase this book.

One last praise to the author in her character development. It was really done well. If you enjoy historical literature or stories around politics and governing this will be a good choice. If these are not things that peek your interest then I'd suggest taking a pass on this one.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • August
  • LA VERGNE, TN, United States
  • 01-13-17

A book that's comfortable to read, but a story tha

I thought this books was slow, but then I realized I was totally comfortable with the pacing and could sort of snuggle into it without getting too tense or edgy. This book was not complacent or boring at all. There was plenty of intrigue and conflict, but not so much so that I got lost, overwhelmed, or bored. It was very easy to come to love the characters (or hate them) but I never really felt like any of them were over the top or characatures. They were people.

I listened to the audio version on audible, and I didn't care overmuch for the narrator. She was good, but sometimes her reading got choppy or halted, emphasizing a word in the middle of a sentence by setting it apart. This often happened with names, as though she were pausing to make sure she pronounced it correctly. Not bad, but a little awkward at times.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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When's the next one??

This is the first book by Kiersten White I've listened to, I selected it because I love Fiona Hardingham and was extremely pleased with the choice.

There is incredible character development, intrigue, and romance. You get invested in the characters and Kiersten sets herself up beautifully for many more books to come!

If you like stories full of dialogue, sword play, and love, this is the book for you.

Can't wait for the next one!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Gutsy Departure for Kiersten White

Kiersten White's newest book is a tour de force and unlike anything else I've ever read by her.

In And I Darken Kiersten White recasts Vlad the Impaler as a girl, Lada Dragwlya. Vlad III, known for his ruthlessness, is most famous for being the historical inspiration for Dracula. Lada, in turn, is ruthless, smart, and fierce. She has a viciousness that is rather terrifying. You don't read about too many girls like her.

I was expecting some kind of fantastical element to this story, but it reads more like true historical fiction. White follows the outline of Vlad's life as she tells her tale. She adds detail and character to the historical facts. Plus, we have a girl Vlad so that opens up all kinds of possibilities. The book is narrated by both Lada and her brother Radu. And I really enjoyed the complicated relationship between the two siblings.

Vlad and his brother, the young princes of Wallachia, were ransomed by their father to the Ottomans in 1442. Lada and her brother Radu are as well. There they come of age, and in some ways this book is a coming of age story -- especially when it comes to Radu's part of the tale. Living in the Ottoman empire, the princess and prince are somewhat isolated. They don't really belong. The tide changes a bit when the two meet and become friends with Mehmed (the future Sultan). Mehmed is the other towering figure in And I Darken.

This book has great character development, lots of political intrigue, a high-stakes love triangle, and fabulous historical atmosphere. I really enjoyed delving into the history of the Ottoman Empire. It was so formidable for so long, but I haven't encountered it much in fiction.

This book strikes me as a gutsy departure for Kiersten White. And I Darken explores issues of gender equality, sexuality, religion, familial relationships, and politics in a sophisticated and unflinching way.

Fiona Hardingham always delivers a great performance. I'm pretty sure my enjoyment of this book was upped because I listened to the audio version. I will definitely be listening to the sequels.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Just Couldn't Get into it

I had high hopes for this book, but I found myself getting rather board with all the characters. Parts drag on too long and I just overall disappointed. It's also too expensive the quality of the novel.

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Narrator brings to life the authors characters.

I struggled at first with how long the story is. after awhile thought Fiona (Narrator) built up these amazing characters. I bought book 2 so I could read it faster than listen. absolutely adore the narrator and highly suggest this as well as the other books she reads.

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All was amazing BUT the narrator...

The book is awesome, not another pink love story ans that's to appreciate. Lada is my favorite character, and the whole set up is great. But that voice!!!! She is so bad, I was about to quit a couple times. The same narrator also does the sequel of the book, which means I won't be getting the audiobook but the book.

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great characters

Now here's a girl that's scary and ferocious, but written so well you still cheer her on. Her brother is meek and mild, and you can't wait for him to find his courage. Original.

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  • Jennifer
  • austin, TX, United States
  • 07-08-17

Different and better than anticipated

This review is being written just after I finished the second book in this trilogy, Now I Rise, which is all that is available to me as of this date.
I am enjoying this series deeply. I keep pausing to wonder if this is the same Kiersten White who wrote Paranormalcy, but it totally looks that way.
These books are rich and detailed. I'll admit that my historical knowledge of the time and places these books take place is somewhat lacking, but now I've been reading more about it because it is just so interesting. The characters are developed, flawed, trying to be better people and finding it very difficult. Everyone has motivations for inexcusable actions that make those actions seem justifyable. Everyone is trying to work for the greater good as each person sees it, but in doing so, they commit some truely terrible acts. They love and hate and generally have incredibly complicated relationships like real people- well, like real people growing up in the time, place, and positions they all grew up in. They struggle with internal conflicts that tear them apart as much as the fighting, killing, and political intrigue. I've also been impressed with the development of the world. I suspect I'm not the only one who thought something like "The capital of the Ottoman empire was where exactly?", and the author does a fantastic job of getting us to understand the land, the people, and the political situations. We even get some insight into the lives of ordinary people of the time rather than just the nobles and royalty, though the main characters are all from the upper eschelons.
I love the protagonists, though I could do without the Sultan. I want happy endings for Lada and Radu, but, at the end of the second book, I'm not really seeing a way for that to happen. I am still holding out hope, though, for both of them.
The narration was something of a problem for me in the very beginning. The narrator's voice just seemed to drag out the less than entirely exciting "I was born..." part of the book. Now, though, I'm even enjoying the narration.
I can't wait for the last book in the series.

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  • Georgina Hollaway
  • 09-12-16

Narration lacked flow but story was perfect

The narration seemed clumsy, clunky and strange. Every time a name is said it sounds like it was prerecorded so there is no flow to the narration. Her voice is a little grating but still the story was great enough that it didn't dampen too much. If the narration was changed it would have been perfect.
Lada is ruthless, fierce and a force to be reckoned with. No protagonist comes close to what Lada is and this is only the beginning.
This is a retelling of the Ottoman Empire with real people but fictional tales. Vlad the Impaler has been gender bent to Lada!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Lyndsey T.
  • 03-28-17

Brilliant retelling of the Vlad the Impaler story

I enjoyed this even more than I expected, it starts off a bit confusing with all the names and places, but it quickly becomes gripping and exciting. Lada is a fascinating protagonist, and an interesting twist on the original Vlad, being a teenage girl. The story starts with her as a young girl and runs until she's about 18 I think, and focuses mostly on Lada but also her brother Radu and their best friend Mehmed. It's well researched and richly detailed, seems quite accurate historically (with the exception of Lada being female and everything) and is a really interesting story. The action is relatively little, with more on the characters and their development, but the major events are exciting and tense. I would definitely recommend this if you love a book with a strong female lead, lots of history and culture, and a plenty of secret plots and assassination attempts.

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  • Kristin
  • 08-01-16

Intriguing and vivid

An enjoyable read about a turbulent time. I loved how strong willed the heroine was, and her difficult relationships with friends and family. It create a very vivid picture of the kingdoms covered.

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