Number of pages: 470
Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1
Rating (out of five stars): 5
I’ve been a Kiersten White fan for a while, and while I recognize some of her earlier books are not high quality literature, And I Darken and Now I Rise are by far her best books. Filled with adventure, a respectful look at two different religions, violence, court intrigue, and romantic tension, Now I Rise is perfect for a variety of readers, which you can’t say often about historical books.
The thing about Now I Rise (as well as And I Darken) is that they don’t feel like historical fiction books; they feel like fantasy books. Think of your favourite fantasy book and remove the magic/ mythological figures and creature and you have Now I Rise. Now I Rise is far more fast-paced than your typical historical fiction book (I’m not bashing historical fiction books; I love historical fiction books. The issue with historical fiction is the pacing can lead to boredom rather quickly), and by far more bloody.
As Now I Rise is a historical fiction novel, it is very character driven. It’s a good thing the characters are all fantastic. I especially love Nicolae, Nazira, and Cyprian, who are all side characters. Nicolae never fails to make me laugh, Nazira is a fantastically rational character (for the most part), and Cyprian is so precious (and my favourite new character). I appreciate the main characters as well, but the side characters are definitely my favourites. All of the characters are shades of gray; nobody is black and white. They all fell like people rather than characters. Also, if Lada loses Nicolae from her men, I’m out.
Speaking of main characters, I’m so angry with Mehmed in this book. He’s so conniving, which is exactly the reason I didn’t like Radu again until he started to feel conflicted toward the people of Constantinople. Why on earth did Mehmed think he could do what he did to Lada. I wasn’t too upset until with him for using Radu, since he’s been using him for two books now, but doing what he did to Lada proves he doesn’t actually love her, since he clearly doesn’t know her at all.
I want to quickly touch on the religious aspect of this book, because I explained my feeling really poorly in my And I Darken review (the only reason I don’t remove that first paragraph is for transparency sake). As a person who doesn’t pertain to any religion (I’ve technically been baptised as a Catholic, but I’ve been to church roughly twice including my baptism, and this is a whole long and complicated story), I find it refreshing to be able to learn at least a little bit about other faiths, especially when they are represented as respectfully as they are in And I Darken and Now I Rise. I also love that so many views on faith are represented. There are devout characters like Mehmed and Hunyadi, to the faithless like Lada. This is the best and least forceful (I don’t feel like it’s pushing me to be a part of any faith) representation of religion I have read (it helps that this is one of the very few books I’ve read that features religion).
Overall, Now I Rise is fantastically written with excellent morally grey characters, earning it 5 out of 5 stars. If you haven’t started this series and are able to acquire a copy, forget whatever book you were about to read and pick it up. You can then join us in the pain of waiting for book three.