Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Summary: “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” (Goodreads).
For the record, I cried when I finished Bright We Burn, and not because the ending was overwhelmingly tragic, but because the series is over. It’s been such a wild ride. I can 100% say The Conquerer’s Saga is one of my all-time favorite series. The characters are so fleshed out with individual stories that still feel important to the main one. It reminds me why I love history, because everything is morally-grey, and there’s never really a right or wrong answer when you’re trying to protect your own people. None of the characters make good decisions, but they all have a reason, and that’s the best part of it all.
Still, I can’t say I love Lada. She’s so messed up and killing a whole room of men is a little shady, but I loved reading about her. A genderbent Vlad the Impaler isn’t meant to be a good guy; it’s just meant to be interesting. She’s fascinating. And sometimes the best characters are the antagonists, especially if they have really deep backstories.
When I was at Comic-Con, Kiersten White said something interesting, that The Conquerer’s Saga came about when she read up on Radu and Vlad, how they both had the same upbringing but turned out opposites. She wrote the book as the answer to that question, how one person could be softened by the same terrible childhood that hardened the other.
There was never a dull moment within Bright We Burn. Everything was perfectly fast-paced, invigorating, exciting. Pivotal events occurred and the characters were changed and the character development (cue the screaming) was amazing. I’m so pleased with how things turned out, honestly, which is something weird to say at the end of a gut-wrenching series. Usually, I’m in immense pain because all of my favorite characters had a bittersweet or just outright tragic ending, but these characters…well, they got what they deserved, and I’ll say that much.
I couldn’t really ask for a better conclusion. All I want to do right now is pick the series right back up and reread it all. I want to watch as Radu grows to love himself despite who he loves, watch as Lada realizes she doesn’t need Mehmed.
The sibling relationship is a special one. Radu and Lada, as previously stated, are polar opposites. Radu faces everything with compassion (and deserves the entire world, if you ask me), while Lada stands with her knife pointed out waiting for someone to make a wrong move. This series isn’t about any other relationship at the heart of it, but the relationship between siblings who weren’t truly meant to be on the same side ever. The only side they were meant to be on was their own, not with a country, but with each other.
I could go on for ages, but I think it’s clear I love this series. If you haven’t picked it up, I highly recommend trying it.