Bright We Burn is a part of the And I Darken collection.
The tumultuous, edge-of-your-seat conclusion to the New York Times bestselling AND I DARKEN series--the epic saga that reads like Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Who will live? Who will die? And who will rule triumphant?
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.
"Rich . . . A worthy end to a powerful saga." --Booklist
"Exciting, complex, and faithful to the feelings that drive human beings in love and conflict. . . . Highly recommended." --SLJ
"An intense, engrossing read." --Kirkus
PRAISE FOR NOW I RISE:
"Gorgeous, rich, and rewarding." --Booklist, Starred Review
"Absolutely devastating in the best way." --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"A+, 5 knives." --Amie Kaufman, New York Times bestselling coauthor of the STARBOUND and ILLUMINAE FILES trilogies
"Fierce, epic, and crazy fun." --Melissa Albert, New York Times bestselling author of The Hazel Wood
PRAISE FOR AND I DARKEN:
"A dark jewel of a story, one that gleams with fierce, cunning characters--absolutely riveting." --Alexandra Bracken, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Passenger
"A dark, gritty, and seriously badass epic that will have you dying for more . . . required reading for every feminist fantasy fan." --BuzzFeed
"Evocative . . . this book takes no prisoners." --NPR
An Excerpt fromBright We Burn
Lada Dracul had cut through blood and bones to get the castle.
That did not mean she wanted to spend time in it. It was a relief to escape the capital. She understood the need for a seat of power, but she hated that it was Tirgoviste. She could not sleep in those stone rooms, empty and yet still crowded with the ghosts of all the princes who had come before her.
With too far to go before reaching Nicolae, Lada planned to camp for the night. Solitude was increasingly precious--and yet another resource she was sorely lacking. But a tiny village tucked away from the frosted road beckoned her. During one of the last summers before she and Radu were traded to the Ottomans, they had traveled this same path with their father. It had been one of the happiest seasons of her life. Though it was winter now, nostalgia and melancholy slowed her until she decided to stay.
Outside the village, she spent a few frigid minutes changing into clothes more standard than her usual selection of black trousers and tunics. They were noteworthy enough that she risked being recognized. She put on skirts and a blouse--but with mail underneath. Always that. To the untrained eye, there was nothing to mark her as prince.
She found lodging in a stone cottage. Because there was not enough planting land for boyars to bother with here, the peasants could own small patches of it. Not enough to prosper, but enough to survive. An older woman seated Lada by the fire with bread and stew as soon as coins had exchanged hands. The woman had a daughter, a small thing wearing much-patched and too-large clothes.
They also had a cat, who, in spite of Lada’s utter indifference to the creature, insisted on rubbing against her leg and purring. The little girl sat almost as close. “Her name is Prince,” the girl said, reaching down to scratch the cat’s ears.
Lada raised an eyebrow. “That is an odd name for a female cat.”
The girl grinned, showing all the childhood gaps among her teeth. “But princes can be girls now, too.”
“Ah, yes.” Lada tried not to smile. “Tell me, what do you think of our new prince?”
“I have never seen her. But I want to! I think she must be the prettiest girl alive.”
Lada snorted at the same time as the girl’s mother. The woman sat down in a chair across from Lada. “I have heard she is nothing to look at. A blessing. Perhaps it can keep her out of a marriage.”
“Oh?” Lada stirred her stew. “You do not think she should get married?”
The woman leaned forward intently. “You came here by yourself. A woman? Traveling alone? A year ago such a thing would have been impossible. This last harvest we were able to take our crops to Tirgoviste without paying robbers’ fees every league along the road. We made two times again as much money as we ever have. And my sister no longer has to teach her boys to pretend to be stupid to avoid being taken for the sultan’s accursed Janissary troops.”
Lada nodded as though hesitant to agree. “But the prince killed all those boyars. I hear she is depraved.”
The woman huffed, waving a hand. “What did the boyars ever do for us? She had her reasons. I heard--” She leaned forward so quickly and with such animation half her stew spilled, unnoticed. “I heard she is giving land to anyone. Can you imagine? No family name, no boyar line. She gives it to those who deserve it. So I hope she never marries. I hope she lives to be a hundred years old, breathing fire and drinking the blood of our enemies.”
The little girl grabbed the cat, settling it on her lap. “Did you hear the story of the golden goblet?” she asked, eyes bright and shining.
Lada smiled. “Tell me.”
And so Lada heard new stories about herself, from her own people. They were exaggerated and stretched, but they were based on things she had actually done. The ways she had improved her country for her people.
Lada slept well that night.