A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Autobiography of Red (Anne Carson)

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Rating: 3 Pfoten,5

”Words bounce. Words, if you let them, will do what they want to do and what they have to do.”

The thing with poetry books is that they always leave up a lot of things for interpretation. You cannot go into them expecting them to make a distinct point. Poetry meanders, comes back to its originals just to leave them again and to throw another question at your feet. It challenges and forces you to deal with everything that’s mentioned and hinted at. No, to read poetry is definitely no easy feat, yet I still love to do it every once in a while. It keeps me on my toes and causes me to think outside of the box and that’s always a good thing in my book.

”The red world And corresponding red breezes
Went on Geryon did not”

This said I really enjoyed reading “Autobiography of Red”. Carson has a unique way to tell her story and to follow Geryon’s character was extremely intriguing. It takes a while to get into the story but once you found the rhythm and flow of the tale you can’t help but wonder where it will take you. I found Carson’s choice to take Greek mythology and to put it into our modern world pretty impressive and bold. It’s a noteworthy choice and gave the entire story an edge I would have never been able to anticipate, yet the themes that are tackled could be found in ancient mythology as well.

”The world poured back and forth between their eyes once or twice.”

“Autobiography of Red” follows Geryon and his life on earth. In Greek mythology Geryon was a red winged monster that was slain by Herakles, in this poetry novel he’s a person who is trying to figure out his life and sexuality. There are many different topics that are tackled in this short book, sexual abuse, bullying, sexual identity and disfigurement just to mention some of them. If you read between the lines there are plenty of things to discuss, for instance the relationship between Geryon and Herakles as well as their relationship with Ancash a mutual friend.

„The effort it took to pull himself
away from Herakles‘ eyes
could have been measured on the scale devised by Richter.”

As I already said poetry leaves a lot of room for subjective interpretation but what I could gather from the story and how I interpret it is that Geryon is a very lonely person. His mother is affectionate but doesn’t know how to support her son. She’s not only unaware of the bullying at school but also doesn’t notice the ongoing sexual abuse by Geryon’s own brother. Geryon’s world is pretty dark and the atmosphere of the book makes sure to convey this feeling every step of the way. When Geryon meets Herakles and falls in love with him he begins to question his sexuality and this starts his process of finding himself. The relationship between Geryon and Herakles feels kind of toxic because even though their feelings seem to be mutual at first Herakles leaves him with a broken heart and this ultimately causes Geryon to fall into a depression.

„He saw the doorway
the house the night the world and
on the other side of the world somewhere Herakles laughing drinking getting into a car and Geryon’s
whole body formed one arch of a cry – upcast to that custom, the human custom of wrong love.

Years later they meet in Peru and Geryon’s conflicting feelings begin to overwhelm him once again. Geryon is aware of all the prying eyes and tries to keep his distance, but Herakles won’t let him be, taking the role of a predator that wants to seduce him. Ultimately Geryon is too weak to push him away. This was a really interesting shift in their dynamic because in the original myth Herakles is the hero that kills Geryon. Carson reverses their roles and makes “the monster” the victim which forces her readers to think outside of the box. I personally think it’s also a nod to the original Greek myth, because in fact Geryon was Herakles’s victim in the tale as well. Geryon was only killed by Herakles because it was his tenth task to steal Geryon’s herd of red bulls and after Herakles slayed Orthos and Eurytion Geryon challenged him to a duel which ended with his death.

„Aren’t you cold?“ said Geryon to Ancash who had no coat on. No, said Ancash.
Then he looked sideways at Geryon.
Well actually yes. He smiled. Geryon would have liked to wrap his coat around
this feather man. They walked on.”

As for the role of Ancash, their mutual friend in Peru? I’m still not all too sure what to make of his character, but I think Carson created him to point out Herakles’ abuse. Ancash doesn’t approve of Herakles’ advances and Geryon’s feelings for him, but I also got the feeling that he was jealous?! His character certainly acted as some sort of catalyst and pushed the story along. Honestly, if any of you read “Autobiography of Red” I’d love to hear your thoughts on Ancash. I still don’t know how to place him. XD

4

All told, to read “Autobiography of Red” was a very weird, yet at the same time intriguing experience. I still don’t know what to make of the ending but I guess Carson left it that way on purpose. It’s the reader’s choice how to interpret it and I think that’s good the way it is. 😉

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: All Systems Red (Martha Wells)

Rating: 4 Pfoten

”I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites.”

Haha! Honestly, to read this quote was extremely relatable! I mean it are Murderbot’s thoughts but I can totally understand their enjoyment of tv shows. *lol* And to be completely honest I always wondered how Muderbot would like k-dramas. I bet they’d be hooked and totally forget about their mission, but that’s beside the point so let’s stop thinking about it and get this review back on track. ;-P

I really didn’t think I’d enjoy this short story so much because if we look at it from an objective perspective this sort of plot must have been part of countless science fiction books already. I mean a group of scientists that explores a new planet and gets into trouble with the inhabitants of that new world is nothing new. We’ve had that in about a gazillion of books and movies so this was definitely familiar territory. What was new was the fact that the narration of the story was told through Murderbot’s eyes who isn’t exactly part of the science team because it’s a security android and its only order is to protect the people it accompanies.

Well, that is until Murderbot develops a mind of its own and cuts off the governor module in order to be free. So we have a self-aware SecUnit that decides to stay with its humans because it still wants to protect them and watch tv shows. *lol* For a while the mission actually goes well and nothing happens. Well, that is until there happens something and the scientists don’t only discover that someone wants to kill them but also that Murderbot isn’t attached to the governor module anymore. Fun times!

„At least Mensah and Arada had overruled the ones who wanted to talk to me about it. Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency. I’d rather climb back into Hostile One’s mouth.“

Murderbot was quite something and I really liked to listen to its thoughts. If you ask me it was more human than some of the humans it encountered and sometimes it made me smile with its observations. The characters I liked the most were definitely the captain of the crew and Ratthi because they saw Murderbot as a person and not as an android and I really liked that. I think the feeling was mutual as well because Murderbot was actually fiercely protective of its human crew and once they got attacked it did everything possible to make sure they survived. 😉

”Maybe these clients had been terrible and abusive, maybe they had deserved it. I didn’t care. Nobody was touching my humans.”

4
All told “All Systems Red” was a quick and enjoyable read and after the ending I really want to know what happens next. I can see this series becoming one of those series I pick up whenever I want to read something short and fun so I’m pretty certain I’ll read book two soon. This said: If you want to read a typical sci-fi story with a rather untypical and unique POV this one might be the right choice for you.

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 31 on My Book List 2021

”Why bother to make music when the silence and wind are so much larger? Why light lamps when the darkness will inevitably snuff them?”

This book was a dark, dark book, but then again it were extremely dark times and all our two main characters Marie-Laure and Werner were trying to do, was to survive them. To be honest I really don’t know how I feel about “All the Light We Cannot See”. It was a good and thought-provoking book and the story was written beautifully. Still, after all the reviews I read I thought this story would hit me harder and that it would be one of those books that would leave me crying in the end. None of that happened though and even though the plot was well-crafted and the prose was lyrical I still couldn’t help but feel a little detached from the characters and their fate.

I think I’m just not used to historical fiction anymore. The writing style in books like this one is very different to what I usually read and even though you follow the characters, you’re not exactly in their heads which is probably one of the main reasons  why I didn’t connect all too much with them. Also I was in a huge reading slump when I started to read the book in April and only picked it up in August again. I did finish it in a couple of days then though so yeah. It definitely had me engaged and I wanted to know what was going to happen next, I just wasn’t as attached to the characters as I usually am when I read other books.

”I want to be an engineer. And you want to study birds. Be like that American painter in the swamps. Why else do any of this if not to become who we want to be?”
A stillness in the room. Out there in the trees beyond Frederick’s window hangs an alien light.
“Your problem, Werner,” says Frederick, “is that you still believe you own your life.”

I however will admit that some scenes in this book hurt. Badly. No matter if it was Marie-Laure who struggled to survive in a world that was ever-changing and had no room for people with disabilities or Werner who just wanted to become an engineer and was forced to go to war instead. Their stories were so different, yet they both were connected somehow. Werner’s childhood and his very brutal education in one of the German military schools, Marie-Laure’s life as a blind person in times that made it even harder to navigate through them because nothing ever stayed the same. Two different sides of a coin but both connected in ways you could only grasp if you closed your eyes and let yourself sink into the story. The older they got the harder their lives became and the stronger the war around them raged. To see the world through Werner’s eyes and Marie-Laure’s ears was at least as fascinating and unique as it was heart-breaking.

”Frederick said we don’t have choices, don’t own our lives, but in the end it was Werner who pretended there were no choices, Werner who watched Frederick dump the pail of water at his feet – I will not – Werner who stood by as the consequences came raining down. Werner who watched Volkheimer wade into house after house, the same ravening nightmare recurring over and over and over.”

But it wasn’t just about Marie-Laure and Werner. There were so many other side-characters that stuck with me but I think Frederick and Volkheimer were the two people I still think about the most. It’s kinda funny how sometimes the side-characters actually leave a deeper impact on the reader than the main characters themselves.

I mean Frederick… oh Frederick. His story moved me the most and I still feel anger boiling deep in my stomach whenever I think about it. In Germany of World War II there was no room for honourable people like Frederick and it still hurts to think about this precious boy. I suppose there was no room for boys like Volkheimer or Werner as well. Volkheimer who was the best soldier because he was burly and did exactly what he was told, but still was so gentle with Werner whenever he was ill. Their friendship was everything and I couldn’t help but like Volkheimer even though he did what he did. Talk about conflicting feelings. >_<

Volkheimer definitely saw the potential in Werner and appreciated his talent and gifts. Truth be told, I think Werner was a genius that never got a chance to shine because all his talent went into the war machine and for me this makes him an even more tragic character than he would have been already.

”Go,”  says Volkheimer again. Werner looks at him a last time: his torn jacket and shovel jaw. The tenderness of his big hands. What you could be.
Did he know? All along?

I think this quote emphasizes it pretty well. Anyway, there’s one thing I still need to address before I wrap up my review and this is the supposed love story in this book. When you read the blurb you automatically think that there will be a love story between Marie-Laure and Werner but this is not the case. There is no love story between them and they only meet once in the entire book. So if you’re going into this book because you expect a romance you better be aware of this. I totally expected there to be a love story between them and was pretty disappointed when I discovered that there was none. Maybe I would have enjoyed the book even more if I would have known that from the get-go.

”Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

4

This said “All the Light We Cannot See” was a very good and thought-provoking book. It’s a slow story that takes time to unfold and to grow which is in total contrast to the fast-paced world and the time it plays in, but I think this was actually a big part of its charm. If you’re looking for a good historical fiction book that plays in World War II and packs a subtle yet strong punch you definitely should pick it up.

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Almond (Won-Pyung Sohn)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster. One of the monsters is me.”

It’s been ages I buddy read “Almond” with my friend Katja but I really wanted to write a review about the book. Unfortunately my life got in the way and I neither read as much as I wanted to nor did I manage to write reviews about the books I finished. I’m going to rectify that now though and after I wrote this review there will follow a couple of other reviews as well. So watch out for them. It’s about time I write them down. 😉 This said, let’s head right back to the actual review and speak about “Almond”.

”Granny, why do people call me weird?”
Her lips loosened.
“Maybe it’s because you’re special. People just can’t stand it when something is different, eigoo, my adorable little monster.”
Granny hugged me so tight my ribs hurt. She always called me a monster. To her, that wasn’t a bad thing.

I wanted to read this book for a while and when my dear friend Katja asked me to read it together for the #Koreadathon I immediately said yes. We picked it for the “read a book recommended by a Korean celebrity” prompt and the fact that RM as well as SUGA of BTS read it and enjoyed it was enough reason to go for it as well. I trust my boys taste in books and I’m really glad I decided to go for “Almond” because it was an intriguing read and very thought-provoking. The plot of the book is easily described: It’s about a boy named Yunjae who was born with a brain condition named alexithymia which basically means that he can’t feel emotions. The part of his brain that is responsible for our feelings (and formed like an almond, hence the book title) isn’t fully developed and that causes him to have troubles to understand human emotions. Our MCs mother and his grandmother tried their best to teach him how to cope with his lack of emotions but then one day tragedy hits and Yunjae is left to fend for himself.

”People sometimes say how cool it’d be to be fearless, but they don’t know what they’re talking about. Fear is an instinctive defense mechanism necessary for survival. Not knowing fear doesn’t mean that you’re brave; it means you’re stupid enough to stay standing on the road when a car is charging towards you.”

I had so many thoughts when I read this book and a lot of them had to do with the way Yunjae was raised. I know his mother and grandmother only had the best intentions and wanted him to blend in with everyone, but I think to some extent their constant efforts made it even more difficult for him to deal with his condition. Emotions are something you can’t learn because human feelings are very complex and some people will cry because they are happy while others will laugh even though they are sad. You might be able to explain the general reasons behind behaviour like crying but every person is an individual and we all react differently when we’re overwhelmed by our feelings. The fine nuances of emotions… well they are something you can’t learn. So even though I understood where Yunjae’s mother was coming from I still didn’t agree with her methods. It felt like Yunjae was under a lot of pressure to learn “the proper reactions” and I kinda felt sorry for him.

”Dr. Shim was right – being ordinary was the trickiest path. Everyone thinks “ordinary” is easy and all, but how many of them would actually fit into the so-called smooth road the word implied?”

Well, and then his grandma died and his mother was out of the picture as well, leaving him to fight through all the troubles on his own. Okay, almost all on his own because Dr. Shim was amazing and I loved that he helped him out! Honestly, bless his soul because he just accepted Yunjae the way he was and tried to help him as best as he could. ❤ But Dr. Shim isn’t the only one that helped him to find his way and Gon as well as Dora had an impact on the MCs character development.

”Dora. Dora was exactly the polar opposite of Gon. If Gon tried to teach me pain, guilt and agony, Dora taught me flowers and scents, breezes and dreams.”

I loved the way this was put, because it sums up their different personalities and essence so well. With Dora Yunjae discovered the soft feelings of first love and attraction and with Gon he learned about true friendship and hardships. Some might say Gon was a catalyst and I’m inclined to agree with that, but I also think that Dora’s appearance was at least as vital to Yunjae’s development as Gon’s. Both played a very important part in the MCs life and contributed to his experiences.

”About what?”
“About destiny and time.”
“What a surprise to hear those words from you.”
“Sheesh, did you know that even when you say the simplest things, you sound like a dick?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Now you know.”
“Yes, thanks.”

I really loved the bluntness between Gon and Yunjae! They took each other the way they were and they didn’t try to pretend to be someone else when they were in each other’s company. I think this might have actually been the main reason their friendship could bloom and evolve because the way they met definitely wasn’t the best start. (And that’s an understatement right there.) I’m not going to spoil anything here though. 😉 Despite being unable to feel emotions the same way other people do Yunjae was quite a wise person sometimes and could look through people’s disguises with surprising ease. I suppose you could also say that because of his disability to feel emotions he was probably more perceptive than others?

”She said families walk hand in hand. Granny would hold my other hand. I have never been abandoned by anyone. Even though my brain was a mess, what kept my soul whole was the warmth of the hands holding mine on both sides.”

I’m pretty sure it was due to this that he was able to see who Gon truly was. The way Yunjae described Gon was simple yet beautiful and I guess this is also how I would describe Won-Pyung Sohn’s writing style: Beautiful simplicity with many layers. The author never beats about the bush or hides information. It’s all there and you get exactly what you read which was a very refreshing approach and even though the conversations between the characters are pretty unexcited, they still have some sort of beauty to them. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the writing style so much but I did. =)

”I said, shut the fuck up.”
“You are not that kind of person.”
“Fuck,” he shouted, half crying. A nail on the wall must’ve pricked my leg, because it was bleeding. Gon saw and started weeping like a child. Yes, this was who he was. The kind of person who tears up at a drop of blood, who feels pain for other’s pain.

4
As for the ending of the book: I liked it but it almost felt too smooth? I don’t know if I’d have done anything differently but I’ve to admit that I still don’t know how I feel about it. I thought a lot about my final reaction to Yunjae’s story but all I can come up with is that the ending felt too convenient. Still, I really enjoyed “Almond” and I can recommend reading it if you want to go for something different and thought-provoking. I still think about the book and in my book this is always a good thing. 😉

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Small Hotel (Suanne Laqueur)

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

Every time I finish one of Suanne Laqueur’s books I can’t help but wonder if I finished the book or if it finished me? I can never speak about her books because they always touch me on such an emotional level that it becomes exceptionally difficult to talk about them. Some might say I need time to “digest” the book first and that’s actually pretty accurate. Still, I finished reading “A Small Hotel” months ago and I still haven’t figured out how to write about it, which in its own way is testimonial to Laqueur’s amazing writing skills.

And she can write. Boy, how she can write. Right from the first moment of the book we’re already thrown into the middle of the Fiskare family and to take in everything that was happening was quite a challenge. The Fiskare family isn’t only a huge family but also a loud one and it takes a little time to get to know all the different members. Especially because almost none of them is called by their actual name which was such a relatable thing if you come from a huge family in which everyone is named after their father or mother. You get creative with nicknames and I loved that the author made this a part of her book. It gives a personal touch, it makes you relate to the characters and it causes you to love them like your own family. By the end of the book you feel like you’re a part of the family and you’re heartbroken when you have to leave them behind.

See, that’s what I mean with Laqueur’s great writing style. You get so immersed in the story by all those little details and you can’t help but fall head over heels for her characters. But that’s not all; the historical aspect of the story was done so amazingly as well. The research that went into this book must have been extremely extensive and I can only salute the author for fighting through all the historical books she must have read in order to write this. The names and dates of all the fights the characters had to go through, the historical accuracy when it comes to the route the soldiers took, from the way gay soldiers in the army were treated, right to the ammunition and rifles they used. As someone who’s interested in history and read their fair share of history books as well, I can’t help but be in awe of the author.

What Laqueur truly excels at is the emotional aspect of her stories though. You feel with the characters, you cry with them when a comrade falls, you’re angry on their behalf when you see them suffer, you want to pick them up and hug them tightly. I swear, there were moments I just wanted to jump into the book and tell them that everything would be alright. And all the while you wonder if all the boys of the family will make it back home, if they’ll survive the war they were thrown in, if they’ll be able to embrace their father and siblings again. And in Kennet’s case if he’ll finally end up with the person he loves.

I swear, the love story between Kennet and Astrid was so heart-breaking and the strong and healthy relationship with his father and siblings had me crying more than once. This family is as thick as thieves and my heart bled for all of them. The brotherly bond between Kennet and Minor actually had me weeping and for a while I wasn’t even able to see the pages of my book. But Suanne Laqueur doesn’t end her book with the war. She continues to tell her character’s story, she gives them room to process the war and to work through their traumas and even more importantly she gives them time to heal. We get the chance to witness their recovery and for me – as a reader – this was so important.

4

All told “A Small Hotel” was an emotional roller coaster that hit me with the force of a hurricane, knocked the breath out of me and caused me to blink away my tears. I’m still not sure if I finished the book or if the book finished me, but quite honestly it doesn’t matter. I fell in love with the Fiskare family and they’ll always have a special place in my heart.  And in the end, that’s actually all that matters.

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: A Gathering of Shadows (V.E. Schwab)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

Book 9 on My Book List 2021

”People could only hurt you if you cared enough to let them.”

I think this quote describes the vibe of the book in a nutshell. “A Gathering of Shadows” is all about the characters and their strong feelings for each other. Sometimes those feelings get in the way and make it impossible to grow and to be who they truly are and sometimes those feelings help them to realize what is important. At times to read this book felt like you’re staunching a wound and no matter what you do, it always starts to bleed anew.

The repercussions of what happened in the finale of “A Darker Shade of Magic” are perceptible in every single word of the story and I was hurting with the characters so much it wasn’t normal anymore. While Rhy and Kell are trying their best to ignore what happened to them, while they try to come to terms with their changed reality and their place in the grand scheme of things, Lila and Alucard are just trying to have the time of their lives. And I was thankful for it, because the Lila/Alucard Duo was a really good counterweight to Rhy and Kell.

As for the third plot line… gosh I was so anxious about what would happen. The knowledge that there was a new force at work in White London had me all kinds of worried and it felt like a looming presence above my head. Do you know the expression: “It hangs like a sword of Damocles above/over sth”? Well, I think that about nails the overall feeling of dread I experienced while reading the book. >_< This said I think I’ll head to my characters section now because I need to get rid of a lot of thoughts and they’ll be spoilery so consider yourself warned! 😉

2
Welcome to Red London! If you have magic running through your veins I’m sure you’ll enjoy the Essen Tasch! The finest of our finest will duel each other and not everyone is going to survive the spoilery fun! Tread carefully and try to stay out of trouble. The spoilers? Well, if you continue to read they’ll find you anyway.

Lila:

”People survived by being cautious, but they got ahead by being bold.”

I guess I got the answer to my question: Lila became a pirate, indeed. *lol* I personally liked her more in this book because she finally opened up and we got a good glimpse at her true personality. In the first book I could never get a grasp of her but this time around we were finally allowed to dive a little bit deeper into her personality. She doesn’t like to let anyone in because she is scared of her own feelings, but despite all her cool exterior and bravado she cares a lot about the people she spends her time with. Alucard and his crew grew on her and Rhy and Kell seem to own a special place in her heart as well. Lila’s determination to do whatever she wants is something I totally admire about her. She sets her eyes on a goal and she doesn’t cave until she made it. Her participation in the Essen Tasch was very reckless but I guess she’s one of those people that need to test their own limits and strength. And truth be told, if I would discover magic in myself I’d want to test and try it out too. *lol*I mean, who wouldn’t? ;-P

”Lila was a quick study, and she knew how to keep up a front; but behind the mask of disinterest, she took in everything. She was a sponge, soaking up the words and customs, training herself to see something once and be able to pretend she’d seen it a dozen – a hundred – times before.”

”She wanted to push away from the table and walk out, walk away, break the cords that tied her to this ship and this crew and this life, and start over. Whenever she felt the weight of those bonds, she wished she could take her sharpest knife and cut them free, carve out the part of her that wanted, that cared, that warmed at the feeling of Alucard’s hand on her shoulder, Tav’s smile, Stross’s nod.”

”The thing about freedom, Kell? It doesn’t come naturally. Almost no one has it handed to them. I’m free because I fought for it. You’re supposed to be the most powerful magician in all the worlds. If you don’t want to be here, then go.”

Kell:

” The truth was, Kell’s blood pulsed with a restless beat, while the thing that coursed within it longed for activity. Something had been roused in him, and it didn’t seem intent on going back to sleep.”

Okay, my hope that things would get better for Kell in “A Gathering of Shadows” was crushed the moment I first read his POV. My poor red-head suffered even more than he did in the first book and most of it was due to his connection with Rhy and the behaviour of his “parents”. I hated that they treated him like a criminal and even though I understood that they wanted to keep Rhy save I still detested them for the way they treated Kell. The fact that he could feel each and every single one of Rhy’s emotions and his pain certainly didn’t help to make him feel better and his slow but gradual suffocation was noticeable throughout the entire book. I bled with Kell and I could understand his need to be free. His entire life turned bitter and he realized that he was never truly a part of the Maresh family and only a means to an end. And then this horrible ending!!! ARGH!!! As if he hadn’t suffered enough already! I really hope my boy will be safe in the next book and that Lila will be able to rescue him.

”But that was the thing. Kell would never be free. No matter how far he fled. He’d given up freedom with is life, when he handed it to Rhy.”

”Rhy had always been fickle, but now Kell felt his brother’s ever-shifting temperament, the constant oscillation, and it was maddening. Space meant nothing. They could be standing side by side or Londons apart. There was no escape.
More and more, the bond felt like a chain.”

Rhy:

”He could feel it, whatever it was, hovering in the air around him, waiting until the sun went down and the world got quiet. Quiet enough to think. Thoughts, those were the waiting things, and once they started up, he couldn’t seem to silence them.
Saints, how he tried.”

You know, I’m kinda sad I never got to see more of the carefree and funny Rhy because the ending of “A Darker Shade of Magic” obviously left its traces on his personality as well. The Rhy in this book was very serious and haunted by his past. Then again I suppose to die and to come back to life will do that to a person. His life force is bound to Kell and what one of them does is felt by the other so it’s no wonder the Rhy in this book was more mature and intense. He feels responsible for everything that happened to his people and Kell and he just can’t seem to be able to live with what he did. I really hope someone is going to tell him that it wasn’t his fault and that him wanting to be a better prince and worthy was the thing that caused him to use the necklace. His fault wasn’t to fall for Holland’s trick because he wanted to be stronger; his fault was to try to please his parents and to think that the power he already has wouldn’t be enough. All that self-hatred… it will destroy him from the inside out. I really hope someone (hopefully Alucard) will be able to get through to him.

”Kell. My greatest fear in life isn’t dying. It’s being the source of someone else’s suffering. I know you feel trapped. I know I’m your cage. And I can’t –“ His voice broke, and Kell could feel his brother’s pain, everything he tried to smother until dark and drown until morning. “You will do this,” said Rhy. “For me. For both of us.”

”Every day. I wake up wanting to be a stronger person. A better prince. A worthy king. That want, it’s like a fire in my chest. And then, there are these moments, these horrible, icy moments when I remember what I did …” His hand drifted to his heart. “To myself. To you. To my kingdom. And it hurts…” His voice trembled. “More than dying ever did. There are days when I don’t feel like I deserve this.”

”He’d always envied his brother’s strength.
And now, in a horrible way, it was his.
He was immortal.
And he hated it.
And he hated that he hated it. Hated that he’d become the thing he never wanted to be, a burden to his brother, a source of pain and suffering, a prison. Hated that if he’d had a choice, he would have said no. Hated that he was grateful he hadn’t had a choice, because he wanted to live, even if he didn’t deserve to.”

3
Lila & Kell:

”Oh yes, your relationship with Miss Bard is positively ordinary.”
“Be quiet.”
“Crossing worlds, killing royals, saving cities. The marks of every good courtship.”
“We weren’t courting,” snapped Kell. “In case you forgot, she left.”

I really like those two and I definitely want more of them! I mean their kiss was … for lack of a better word hot and I think we deserve to see more of this ship. It’s a really slow burn but I actually like that about it. It probably comes with the nature of both of them. While Kell is all restraint and the brooding kind of type, Lila is all recklessness and bravado. Their personalities are quite a contrast but we all know opposites attract. ;-P I guess before we can find out if their ship is going to work out Lila will have to save her man first though! And I really hope she’ll do it fast because my boys are suffering and I need them to survive this!!! T_T

”They crashed into each other as if propelled by gravity, and he didn’t know which of them was the object and which the earth, only that they were colliding. This kiss as Lila pressed into a single gesture. Her brazen pride and her stubborn resolve, her recklessness and her daring and her hunger for freedom. It was all those things, and it took Kell’s breath away.”

Rhy & Kell:

To his surprise, Rhy shot him a scowl. “I’m invested in my kingdom, Brother,” he snapped. “You should be, too.”
“I’m not their prince,” observed Kell. He was in no mood for Rhy’s attitude. “I’m just the one who has to clean up his messes.”

I love their brotherly bond so much but it definitely suffered in this book. Both of them didn’t know how to cope with the situation they found themselves in and both of them tried to atone for what they did in their own way. I wish they would have done it together, that they would have addressed all those things that stood between them more directly. Their relationship was so strained and it hurt to see them together. They were both bleeding and I think the only ones who could stop it are Kell and Rhy themselves. I really hope they’ll talk it out in the last book and that their relationship will be more relaxed again. I mean yes, their fate is bound together but if they are on the same page they could do so many great things. I want them to find peace in the next book and I genuinely hope they will.

”These days, Rhy always seemed to be the source of Kell’s suffering, while Kell himself walked around as if the world were suddenly made of glass, all because of Rhy. It wasn’t even in the end, wasn’t balanced, wasn’t fair. Rhy held Kell’s pain in his hands, while Kell held Rhy’s life in his.”

”Kell.” Rhy sat forward, elbows on his knees. “I was dead.”
The words hung in the air between them.
“I was dead,” he said again, “and you brought me back. You have already given me something I shouldn’t have.” A shadow flashed across his face when he said it, there and then gone. “If it were lost again,” he went on, “I would still have lived twice. This is all borrowed.”

Alucard & Rhy:

Rhy turned to say something, but Alucard’s mouth was already there on his. Hands tangled in hair, clutched at coats. They were a collision, spurred by the force of three years apart.
“You missed me,” said Alucard. It was not a question, but there was a confession in it, because everything about Alucard – the tension in his back, the ways his hips pressed into Rhy’s, the race of his heart and the tremor of his voice – said that the missing had been mutal.

Now that came as a surprise! I knew there was something between them by the way they acted around each other but woah their romance totally caught me off guard. I guess this is mostly due to the fact that Alucard is a newly introduced character and that we didn’t know much about his past before his ship docked at London. I’m all aboard the Rhylucard/Alurhy?! ship though so please let more of those scenes come way! *lol* It’s so obvious Alucard is totally besotted with Rhy and I’m ready to see more of Rhy’s true feelings for the rakish captain as well. More, please?! XD

Alucard & Lila:

”There was a measure of theatre to everything Alucard did. She wondered how many other parts he could play. Wondered which, if any, were not a part, but the actor beneath.”

”Lila really should have killed him, back when they first met. Back before she could know him. Back before she could like him so much.”

I’m a huge fan of their friendship and I think they should continue to be just friends. Not gonna lie, the chemistry between them was amazing but they are both too reckless and probably would get each other killed. Their flame would burn bright and then blow out. *lol* I can’t blame Lila for giving into Alucard’s advances though. I mean that man is a really nice package! ;-P A deceitful and cunning package but a nice package nevertheless. XD

”Tell me,” he whispered, “was that better than winning a bet?”
She was breathless. “You make a valid argument.”
“I’d love to press the point,” he said, “but first …” He cleared his throat, and looked down at the knife she had resting against the inside of his leg.
“Reflex,” she said with a smirk, returning the weapon to its sheath.”

Lila & Rhy:

Lila’s expression hardened. “Whatever he feels for me, it isn’t love.”
“Because it isn’t soft and sweet and doting?” Rhy rocked back, stretching against the pillar. “Do you know how many times he’s nearly beat me senseless out of love? How many times I’ve done the same? I’ve seen the way he looks at those he hates…” He shook his head. “There are very few things my brother cares about, and even fewer people.”

The bond between those two surprised me as well. Lila and Rhy really seem to care about each other and I loved their tiny interactions. I’m glad Rhy kind of seems to function as a translator between Kell and Lila because I think otherwise those two would always talk past each other. XD Also can we appreciate how Lila’s first reaction, when she saw an upset Rhy, was to ask him who she needed to kill? I loved this so much because ARGH! Coming from Lila this means the world! <33 Lila and Rhy give me a Blue and Ronan vibe and I’m so here for it! I can’t wait to see more of their interactions in the next book and I hope there will be many.

He ducked his head and let out a shuddering sigh. Lila hesitated. She knew she should probably bow, kiss his hand, or swoon – at the very least explain what she was doing there, in the private palace halls, as close to the prison as anyone would let her – but instead she flicked her fingers, producing a small blade. “Who do I need to kill?”
Rhy let out a stifled sound, half sob, half laugh, and sank onto his haunches, still gripping the wooden edge of the table.”

The King & Queen and Kell:

Kell swallowed. “Will they never forgive me?”
“Which would you rather have? Their forgiveness, or Rhy’s life?”
“I shouldn’t have to choose,” he snapped.

I absolutely hated Rhy’s parents in this. His mum didn’t do anything and King Maxim was so unfair to Kell that I wanted to take him by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. I think Kell suffered enough and he did it all to save their son because Rhy got himself into a sticky situation that almost killed him. How is that Kell’s fault? They can blame him for dark magic finding its way into their kingdom and for being a smuggler but they can’t blame him for saving their son’s life. The Dane Twins plot would have fruited no matter what Kell did. It wasn’t his fault that Rhy felt a need to be stronger for his people. Plus Holland could have easily caused trouble without involving Kell. After all he’s an Antari too and can travel between the worlds. If King Maxim would have been fair to Kell and would have trusted him the ending of this book would have never happened. So everything that happens now is on him. I hope he’ll realize this before everything goes to hell. >_<

He stilled. “No. But we both know this isn’t about what’s good for me.”
“You’re right. It’s about what’s good for our kingdom. And if you are loyal to this crown, and to this family, you will confine yourself to this palace until the tournament is over. Am I understood?”

”I can’t keep atoning,” Kell whispered into the king’s shoulder. “I gave him my life, but you cannot ask me to stop living.”

4
I really enjoyed “A Gathering of Shadows” and I can’t wait to read the last book of the series. Since the Essen Tasch was a huge part of this story I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Jay Kristoff’s “Godsgrave” though. Both books were the second book of a series and focused on a deadly tournament while the main plot was still running in the background. My weird brain is probably the only one that saw those similarities… Anyway! I absolutely loved the world and the characters Schwab created and I’m very curious where this series will end. I’m definitely more than just willing to find out. 😉

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Benjamin Alire Sáenz) 

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Rating: 5 Pfoten

”Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?”

I think I rarely read an introduction to a book that touched me as much as this one did. It were exactly questions like that I asked myself when I was a young and confused teen. I was always more serious than the other kids and there were things they just didn’t understand. When I was seventeen life was tough for me, at least more tough than for other people my age. I asked myself questions they wouldn’t ask themselves for decades and I had to ask those questions because life and my personal experiences kind of forced me to.

Just like Ari, I was thinking about so many things, wondering about my place in this world. Why did some things have to end? Why did others start? Why did my heart hurt so much? Gosh, I really wish I would have had this book in my teens, because it definitely would have made me feel better. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” certainly is a book that’s important and needed! It’s one of those reads that is able to change you, to help you and I really, really wish I would have had it back then. XD It captured the problems of adolescence so damn well and because of that, it’s easily become one of my all-time favourites. =)

”Sometimes I think my father has all these scars. On his heart. In his head. All over.”

The problem about those scars is that no one can see them and most people don’t even bother to try to understand. I loved that Ari truly wanted to know what his father felt and that he wanted him to tell him about his feelings and thoughts. But just like Ari (and basically everyone else on this world) his father was a creature of his experiences and his environment. The war he had fought had changed him and the experience with his eldest son had shaped him as well. It’s never easy to talk about things that are so close to our heart, but Ari’s father made an effort and I think that counts for something.

”You were looking for me,” he said.
I looked at him.
“In your dream. You were looking for me.”
“I’m always looking for you,” I whispered.

”I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get – and never would get.”

I guess in some way this sentence explains a lot about the book. There were people Ari didn’t understand and there were people who understood him pretty well but couldn’t seem to be able to convey it. For instance his parents and Dante. Dante understood him more than anyone else and I think in some way he might have even hated him for it. At least at the beginning of the book. The more time passed the less he saw him as a threat. It’s just that Dante always asked the right questions, he is honest and very outspoken and therefore the complete opposite of Ari who always keeps his feelings and words to himself.

While Dante admits that he loves Ari (and this pretty early on in the book), Ari isn’t only unable to accept his own feelings but also incapable to voice them properly. He’s overwhelmed and he feels helpless. So basically just like any other teen, right? *lol*

”I love swimming,” he said again. He was quiet for a little while. And then he said, “I love swimming – and you.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Swimming and you, Ari. Those are the things I love the most.”

And even though Ari tells him not to voice those thoughts it’s still obvious that he feels the same way about Dante as well. Call me crazy but in some way this was really beautiful to watch. XD I mean we have a boy who knows exactly what he wants and we have a boy who questions everything and doesn’t even know who he is. Still, there’s no doubt Ari loves Dante too, because even though he can’t admit it, his thoughts speak their own language.

”And it seemed to me that Dante’s face was a map of the world. A world without any darkness.
Wow, a world without darkness. How beautiful was that?”

Despite all this, it was still amazing to see that their friendship was able to survive every blow of fate that was thrown their way. I just loved their dynamic and the fact that they knew each other inside out. Their friendship was #friendshipgoals and it were always those little, to some people rather insignificant moments, which touched me the most and automatically warmed my heart.

”How many burgers did you flip to buy the book?”
“That’s a very Dante question,” I said.
“That’s a very Ari answer,” he said.
And then we started laughing and couldn’t stop.

Also can I say how much I loved the way Ari described his relationship to his mother? Those two had me close to tears more often than once and I just adored the way they spoke with each other, how open and extremely honest they were. Ari’s and Dante’s moms definitely are #momgoals and I strive to become an awesome mother like that too! ❤

”I could feel my mom listening to me. She was always there. I hated her for that. And loved her.”

”And I knew that there was something about me that Mrs. Quintana saw and loved. And even though I felt it was a beautiful thing, I also felt it was a weight. Not that she meant it to be a weight. But love was always something heavy for me. Something I had to carry.”

All told, I really loved this book and I can recommend it to every teenager who feels lost and alone. “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” is a wonderful and exceptionally beautiful read. It’s full of poetry and the important questions of life, it’s a journey with a beginning and an end and it’s so damn relatable that you can’t help but fall in love with it.

I’m sure young and old will enjoy it and I hope everyone who reads it will discover the secrets of the universe as well. Sometimes the journey is everything that truly matters. ;-P

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Assassin’s Quest (Robin Hobb)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Death is always at the edge of now. Nighteyes’ thought was gentle. Death stalks us, and he is ever sure of his kill. It is not a thing to dwell on, but it is something we all know, in our guts and bones. All save humans.”

Sometimes I think that Nighteyes actually is the wisest character of them all. >_< He has a way to see the truth in the world and he’s never hesitant to voice it which certainly is a trait many of us humans lack. XD Well anyway, let’s not get philosophical right at the beginning of my review. *lol* Let’s focus on the third book of this awesome series instead. 😉

I know many of my goodreads friends gave “Assassin’s Quest” a rather low rating and weren’t happy with the ending and even though I understand their reasoning I still feel the need to declare that I liked it! Yes, you read right! I liked it and enjoyed to read this 700+ pages book! So how come that I ended up relishing this book even though about 70% of my friends didn’t? I guess the answer to this is simple: I had no expectations! *lol* After the ending of book two I had no idea where Robin Hobb wanted to go with this so you could either say that I was blissfully oblivious to every possible outcome or you could go with the theory that there were so many possibilities that I didn’t care in which direction it would head. XD

No matter how you prefer to look at it, it definitely made it easier to cope with the huge changes that happened in this book. And truth be told, there were quite a lot, which probably is the reason why so many of my friends didn’t enjoy this last book. For instance the story line is no longer bound to Buckkeep but plays in the Six Dutchies instead and unlike in the first two books skilling is taking a huge part as well. Some parts of the plot are even played out through skilling alone and if we wouldn’t have been with Fitz we might have never known about those details. So yes, the surroundings are different, the tone of the book is different, the interactions between the cast of characters are different and the ending is so very different to everything everyone imagined that it is kind of hard to wrap your head around it. *lol*

It’s different, yes, but in my humble opinion “Assassin’s Quest” isn’t only a great book but also worth reading. 😉 And because I still have so many other things to say I’ll head directly to my characters section now!

2
You are entering my character section, which is also widely known as my spoilery spoiler section so if you don’t want to be spoiled and still want to experience this book on your own, you better don’t continue to read now. XD This is a fair warning! Don’t say I didn’t give you a choice because unlike Fitz you actually have one. ;-P

FitzChivalry:

”No choice, no choice, no choice. Never any choice about anything. Fate had made me a killer, a liar, and a thief. And the harder I tried to avoid those roles, the more firmly I was pushed into them.”

My poor Fitz!!! I don’t know how often I said this already, but no matter how often I say it, it still holds true! If you ask me Fitz is Robin Hobb’s personal scapegoat and when she wrote his character she probably was like: Mhmm how else could I destroy him?! Because seriously, that boy went through so much already and he JUST DESERVES BETTER THAN THAT!!!! Plus the injustice that happened in those three books is outrageous!!! I mean, he died for his king and then he was forced back into his body!!! The peace he had once again ripped away from him because other people decided that his work wasn’t done!!! Believe me when I say that I understood every single one of Fitz emotions!!! I mean he gave them everything, his youth, his love, his life and yet it still wasn’t enough?! What else could they possibly want from him?! It’s no surprise he wanted Regal and his coterie dead and I don’t even blame him for his stupid actions. For him they were justified! Also DAMN THEM ALL FOR PLANNING TO USE HIS DAUGHTER WITH MOLLY AS WELL!!!! He did everything for them and that’s the way they repay him for it?! By being willing to use his only daughter as a tool and pawn as well?! AADFASKDFASFDJSAKDFAJSDKFA! That made me so angry I can’t even!!! *breathes fire* And yet, still despite everything that happened, despite all the things they would have done to him without even batting an eye, Fitz still would have given his LIFE for Verity’s dragon!!! Because he is precious and pure and he loved Verity!!!! GAH!!! As for the ending, I saw the thing with Molly and Burrich coming from miles away, so it was no surprise for me. Poor Fitz obviously didn’t anticipate it though. =(( I feel so heartbroken for him! T_T And Regal… I can’t believe Fitz let him live! He actually LET HIM LIVE and turned him good by implanting fanatic loyalty in his mind!!! OMG!! Of course Regal died in the end, but it was not through the hands of Fitz!!! My precious, precious destroyed boy… T_T

”That debilitating fear was a cowering presence inside me. I knew, with a sick certainty, that if I were pressed I would become it. I was no longer FitzChivalry. I was what was left after fear had driven him from his body.”

”The choice was simple. Be a wolf, with no past, no future, only today. Or a man, twisted by his past, whose heart pumped fear with his blood.”

”You can’t even imagine what you’ve taken away from me. I should be dead, but you wouldn’t let me die. All with the best of intentions, always believing you were doing what was right, no matter how it hurt me. But who gave you that right over me? Who decreed you could do this to me?”

Verity:

”You. He has refused to allow you to be put into the dragon. He could do it, you know, whether you willed it or not. He could simply reach out and pull you into him. But he refuses. He says you love your life too much, he will not take it from you. That you have already laid down too much of it for a king who has returned you only pain and hardship.”

*sighs deeply* Verity… it made me so sad to see what has become of him. I mean I always hoped that Verity would come to their rescue bringing the Elderlings with him and then we find him carving a dragon out of stone. =( Gosh, what it cost Verity to make that dragon! He lost his memories, his humanity; he gave everything into that dragon just to bring him to life. It was painful and sad to see Verity like that, especially because he was one of my favourite characters and I always hoped that he’d actually become the king of the Six Duchies and would live a long and nice life with Kettricken. Robin Hobb wouldn’t be Robin Hobb if she wouldn’t have spoilt things for me though. *lol* Plus even in those last moments of his life he used Fitz and it was something that rankled me big time. I mean I understand why he used his body to sleep with Kettricken but damn, Fitz deserved better than that and Kettricken too. So yes, I definitely was no happy camper when it came to that turn of events. >_<

The Fool:

”I am glad, glad that you are alive. To see you take breath puts the breath back in my lungs. If there must be another my fate is twined around, I am glad it is you.”

I think now is the moment to scream: I LOVE THE FOOL!!! His character is soo damn amazing that I can’t help but adore him!!! The Fool was always one of my favourites and that he played such a huge role in this book made me more than just a little happy! I always wanted to know more about him and his roots and my wish was finally granted! XD Also I loved that Starling believed him to be a woman who is in love with Fitz. *lol* I mean yes, he’s definitely in love with Fitz but I’m pretty sure he’s no woman, or at least not all of the time. ;-P If you ask me the Fool was initially born as a man but is gender fluid and considering that this book was written about 20 years ago I have to give Robin Hobb kudos for being brave enough to invent his character!!! <333 Still, there is so much I don’t know about him and I hope that one of the other trilogies will provide me with even more information about his origins and background story. I can’t get enough of him and I want MORE!!!!

”That is one thing that in all my years among your folk I have never become accustomed to. The great importance that you attach to what gender one is.”
“Well, it is important …” I began.
“Rubbish!” he exclaimed. “Mere plumbing, when all is said and done. Why is it important?”

Chade:

”Over and over and over again, you forget your place. You are not a prince, you are an assassin. You are not the player, you are the game-piece.”

What can I say about Chade? I’m glad he and Fitz sorted things out and that he mourned him when he thought him to be dead, but still. I hate that Fitz was always some sort of tool for him. I’m sure Chade didn’t know any better because he was raised being a tool himself, but damn I can’t forgive him for everything he did. Especially not for trying to use Nettle as a pawn as well!!! It was wrong and he should have known that!!!

Starling:

”Honor and courtesy and justice … they are not real, Fitz. We all pretend to them, and hold them up like shields. But they guard only against folk who carry the same shields. Against those who have discarded them, they are no shields at all, but only additional weapons to use against their victims.”

I still don’t know if I liked her or not. I mean she was as likeable as they come, but I didn’t feel anything for her. In fact I was as indifferent to her as Fitz and I’m not okay with them being occasional lovers. Fitz deserves so much better than that and I really hope that one of the other books will finally give him the happy life he longed for! He deserves it!

3
Fitz & Nighteyes:

You will pay for this. I promise you.
In answer I leaned down to pat his shoulder and then scratch his ears. Wag your tail, Nighteyes. “He’s a loyal old dog. I should have known he wouldn’t be left behind.”
The things I endure for you. He wagged his tail. Once.

I have so much love for those two!! Their friendship is everything and it made me so sad when Nighteyes decided to go his own way for a while. I mean, I know why he did it and what he wanted to achieve with it but it was really sad to see them separated. By now their bond is so strong that Nighteyes is no longer just a wolf though. He has human features and this certainly doesn’t make it easy to live among the wild wolves. Also can we take a second and appreciate the joining of the Fool, Fitz and Nighteyes?! I love those three together!!! Bless Nighteyes for accepting the Fool into their pack! <333

Fitz & The Fool:

His cool fingers moved tentatively down my face, tracing the scar and the broken nose. He leaned down suddenly to rest his brow against mine. “When I recall how beautiful you were,” he whispered brokenly, and then fell silent. The warm drip of his tear against my face felt scalding.

I LOVE THIS SHIP AND I WILL GO DOWN WITH IT!!! You can say what you want but I adore those two!! They fit together so perfectly and if anyone should be at Fitz’s side then it’s the Fool!! I mean seriously their chemistry is amazing and I ship them harder than I ever shipped Molly and Fitz. Plus it’s not one-sided!!! No matter how much Fitz tries to deny it, it’s still obvious that he cares for the Fool deeply and even loves him!!! He was so worried when the Fool had a fever and he knows him better than anyone else!! OH AND DID I MENTION THAT THE FOOL KISSED HIM!!!??? He freaking kissed him!!! AHHHHHHH!!! *runs around hyper* I will ship them forever and for always and I genuinely hope they’ll be reunited in one of those following trilogies. XD <333

”There was a naiveté to you that none of the ugliness could stain, as if you never truly believed in evil. It was what I liked best about you.” The Fool swayed slightly where he sat, but righted himself. “It was what I missed the most, when you were dead.”

”Ah, Fitz,” he said quietly a moment later. “You do not know how much it means to me that I can still make you laugh. If I can stir you to laughter, I can laugh myself.”

”There, now you have said it,” the Fool replied as if I had proven his point for him. “And I love you, and all that is a part of you.” He cocked his head and the next words held a challenge. “And do you not return that to me?”
He waited. I desperately wished I had never started this discussion. “You know I love you,” I said at last, grudgingly. “After all that has been between us, how can you even ask? But I love you as a man loves another man …”

Chade & Fitz:

“Oh, my boy, my boy, I believed you were dead. When Burrich sent me word he had found your body, I thought my heart would break. The words we had when last we parted … but here you are, alive if not well.”

Curse Chade for being willing to use Fitz’s only daughter!!! No matter how much he seems to love Fitz, as long as it would serve his purpose and his king, he would still sacrifice my boy in the blink of an eye! That’s not right! Where is his conscience? How can he do such a thing to a person he loves? I don’t understand it and I think I never will. I could relate to Fitz’s anger and I don’t blame him for being furious with Chade. In fact I understand him way too well! >_<

”You can have me,” I told him quietly. “And I will do my best to bring Verity back, and do all I can to restore him his throne. You can have my death, if that is what it takes. More than that, you can have my life, Chade. But not my child’s. Not my daughter’s.”

Verity & Fitz:

”I knelt on the rise, looking down at the town, knowing clearly what I wished with all my heart to do. And I could not do it. Nothing held me back, no man lifted a hand or sword to me and bid me turn aside. Only the small insistent voice in my mind, battering at me. Come to me, come to me, come to me.
And I could not do otherwise.”

Okay, I admit it. As much as I love Verity I was still slightly angry at him for forcing Fitz to come to him. I mean, that boy endured enough and now he even had to go on a quest because Verity told him to. I know Verity didn’t do it on purpose but still, it left a bad aftertaste especially because Verity of all people should have known how powerful a skill command is. Also I didn’t like how Verity’s life ended. Sure, he saved the Six Dutchies but he would have deserved better than to end up as a stone dragon. Plus that unfeeling Verity had nothing to do with the Verity I came to love. Poor Kettricken, to go all that way only to discover that her husband has no feelings for her anymore because he put everything he is into a dragon. *sighs* I guess when it comes to this ending I’m totally with the 70% of my friends that didn’t like it. *lol*

”It would be a poor courtesy to Hod’s skill to pass this on with a blunted blade. Take better care of it than I did, Fitz.” He resheathed it and handed it to me. His eyes met mine as I took it. “And better care of yourself than I did. I did love you, you know,” he said brusquely. “Despite all I’ve done to you, I loved you.”
At first I could think of no answer to that. Then, as he reached his dragon and placed his hands on its brow, I told him, “I never doubted it. Never doubt I loved you.”

4
There were many things I didn’t like about “Assassin’s Quest” but despite everything that happened the positive things still outweighed the negative aspects of the book. It was not the ending I expected and if things would have gone my way I would have gone for a nicer conclusion, considering that Robin Hobb wrote other books that feature Fitz and the Fool, I can’t be all too unhappy about it though. *lol* A solid and unexpected ending for a great trilogy.

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: Assassin’s Apprentice (Robin Hobb)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten

”Most prisons are of our own making. A man makes his own freedom, too.”

So this was my first Robin Hobb and I’m positively surprised! =) I mean after reading all those raving reviews I already expected that “Assassin’s Apprentice” would be a good book, I definitely wasn’t prepared for the train of feels that occasionally hit me though. Well, truth be told, that’s actually a bold understatement.

For a book that started out so slowly there certainly were a lot of intense and awesome scenes that had me hooked almost right from the beginning and if you ask me, it’s as good as impossible to read them without being swept away! Hobb has an undeniable talent for the fine arts of building up an interesting storyline and as far as I could tell she never even hesitated to use it! ;-P

While you read the book you stumble over all those typical fantasy tropes (young boy, apprenticeship, relation to the royal family, hard life, etc.), yet the author still managed to make something intriguing and unique. It’s like she used those fantasy tropes as a scaffold in order to build her own world and ideas around it. And tell you what? It worked! XD

This was such a wonderful read and the fact I already borrowed book two from the library should be enough to persuade you to give it a try! 😉

Since the title of the book is kinda self-explanatory (Assassin’s Apprentice? I can’t help but wonder what it’s going to be about! *lol*) I won’t talk about the plot and will dive right into the characters section instead!

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WARNING! This is the danger zone! *lol* I’ll spoil in here and if you hate to be spoiled you better run in the other direction! ;-P Can’t say I didn’t warn you, can you? XD

FitzChivalry:

”I know he meant well. But I did not feel protected by him, but confined. He was the warden that ensured my isolation with fanatical fervour. Utter loneliness was planted in me then, and set its deep roots down into me.”

Aww Fitz! I love this Boy! (See what I did there?! XD) He’s so sweet and funny and I can already see him becoming a sassy and clever protagonist in the future! Unfortunately he still has to learn a lot about life and the dangerous world he’s living in so I mostly felt really sorry for him while reading this book. There were so many moments that broke my heart and there were times I was like: CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE THIS POOR BOY A BREAK?!! Plus some of the scenes were so damn amazing that they really stuck with me. For instance the “Silver Knife Scene”! Chade and King Shrewd wanted to test Fitz loyalty and they did it in a very cruel way. My poor Boy suffered so much but once the problem was resolved he didn’t back down. No! He made his point by stealing a silver knife right in front of his King and driving it into the wood of Chade’s shelf! *LOL* THAT WAS SO DAMN AWESOME!!!! The sass and defiance!!! Gosh I loved it so much! Plus can we acknowledge the wonderful atmosphere of the “Poison Scene”? It easily became one of my all-time favourite scenes and the twist was executed so well I could only gasp in disbelieve and awe! So cleverly done, Hobb! So cleverly done! *shakes head*

Chade:

”I’ll be teaching you the nasty, furtive, polite ways to kill people. You’ll either develop a taste for it, or not. That isn’t something I’m in charge of. But I’ll make sure you know how.”

Haha! Chade instantly became one of my favourites of this book! I mean he’s the Royal Assassin and he’s a wise and good man. He has principles, he knows his limits and he did his best to tap his full potential. It made me very sad he was so painfully aware of the fact that he was raising and educating the next generation and that his use was going to run out as soon as his replacement was ready. Yet he still knew that it wasn’t Fitz fault and taught him everything he needed in order to do his job. I have a very deep respect for Chade and I really hope he’ll live through the next two books.

”Sometimes,” grumbled Chade, “it is better to be defiantly wrong than silent.”

”You’re a bastard, Fitz. We’re always a risk and vulnerability. We’re always expendable. Except when we are an absolute necessity to their own security.”

Burrich:

”You failed? No, Fitz. I fialed. I was too soft-hearted to beat it out of you at the first sign of it.”

Gosh, I’m still so torn when I think of Burrich. I mean in some way he’s Fitz father figure and it’s clear he only meant well, but boy the way he tried to raise him was so damn wrong sometimes. *sighs* I mean every parent makes mistakes; we’re all human after all, but to punish Fitz so much? He and Nosy were everything Fitz had and that stubborn mule named Burrich just didn’t realise how much Fitz needed and loved him. He was just a little boy that needed a safe place and it should have been Burrich who provided it. I mean he didn’t even give him a chance to explain. He would have been dead without Fitz connection to Smithy, yet he refused to listen to him. ARGH!!! It makes me so angry. *lol* I know Anish has a different opinion about him, but I just can’t forgive Burrich for what he did. *sighs deeply*

”How you must have hated me.”
“And feared you.”
“All those years? And you never learned better of me, never thought to yourself, ‘He would not do such a thing’?”

Verity:

”I must have dozed, for I woke to his hand on my hair. “Do they tell you to watch over me so, boy, even when I sleep? What do they fear, then?”
“Naught that I know, Verity. They tell me only to bring you food, and see as best I can that you eat it. No more than that.”

I absolutely adored and loved Verity! He’s such an awesome character and he’s always true to his name. I really liked his relationship with Fitz and I hope he’ll feel a lot better in the next book. It hurt to see how much the Skill took from him and for a second near the end I really thought he wouldn’t make it. =( Gosh that was suspenseful! *lol* I’m just glad he’s fine now and I’m sure Princess Kettricken and him will make a wonderful couple. They are both on the more practical side of things and even though it’s no marriage of love, I’m sure Verity will win her heart. (Maybe she’ll win his too? XD)

Regal:

”Ruthlessness creates its own rules. So my mother taught me. People are intimidated by a man who acts with no apparent regard for consequences. Behave as if you cannot be touched and no one will dare to touch you.”

I hate Regal! I hate him so much! Such an arrogant, snobby, superior feeling little piece of s***! He’s a clever villain; I have to give him that but his obvious distaste for Fitz caused me to dislike him from the very start! I mean there are villains and then there are villains! Regal is one I just can’t help but hate! XD How he and Galen treated Fitz was so cruel that I wanted to bang their heads together multiple times! And don’t even get me started about the death of Nosy, if it wouldn’t have been for Nosy Fitz would have died at the end. =((( Oh my, poor Nosy. That last paragraph killed me. He saved him, He dragged him out of the water and then he died, trying to give him strength… I can’t even… *sobs violently*

King Shrewd:

”A bastard, Regal, is a unique thing. Put a signet ring on his hand and send him forth, and you have created a diplomat no foreign ruler will dare to turn away. He may safely be sent where a prince of the blood may not be risked. Imagine the uses for one who is and yet is not of the royal bloodline. Hostage exchanges. Marital alliances. Quiet work. The diplomacy of the knife.”

I still don’t know what to make out of King Shrewd. I mean at the moment he’s obviously on Fitz’s and Verity’s side, but I have no idea which side he’ll choose when we get a better grasp of the big picture. I have no doubt that he’s an opportunist and he’s certainly shrewd enough to use this to his advantage. Plus Regal and Verity are his sons. He might care for them both but I’m sure he’ll support whoever wins their dangerous game in the end. So yeah, I’m #TeamVerity and I really hope Regal won’t get a second chance. 😉

The Fool:

”Because your heart will be hammered against him, and your strength will be tempered in his fire.”

I loved the Fool! He’s so mysterious and such an intriguing character. I really would have liked to find out more about him, but Hobb kept us in the dark and I’m convinced she had her reasons to do so. I’m pretty sure the Fool knows about everything that happens at court and I’m also more than just certain that he’s an advisor of King Shrewd. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to him though and that he might have even disobeyed some of the king’s commands in order to help Fitz. Hobb, I want more of the Fool in the next book! XD

The Wit and The Skill:

”The appetite for the Skill is one that devours a man, not one that nourishes him.”

Boy did it take long until we finally got a decent explanation what the Skill is about. *lol* I know Anish was getting impatient and so was I! Haha! Whilst it’s true that the Skill is an intriguing ability, I’m still fascinated with the Wit as well. I’m convinced that those two go hand in hand and could work together and if I’m correct it’s really remarkable Fitz has an aptitude for both! =) The quote above made me think there might be a connection and since the Skill devours a man and the Wit seems to nourish it, Fitz could be a more than just powerful man! Just think about all the possibilities! ;-P

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And with this thought I’m finally ending my rather long review. XD
“Assassin’s Apprentice” was an amazing and well-thought-out fantasy tale and I’m already curious about the next book! =)

Since this was a buddy read with The Sweet Manisha and The Amazing Anish I want to thank them both. I’m sorry Manisha had to drop out of our buddy read at some point but I’m still glad you guys were willing to read this book with me! Thank you for experiencing this with me and also thank you for your interesting thoughts and input! =) It definitely made this an even better read! ;-

A, A - E, Allgemein, Reviews

Review: And I Darken (Kiersten White)

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Rating: 4 Pfoten
 
Book 17 on My Book List 2020
 

She sat beside his bed for a long while. Finally, she put a hand on his shoulder and whispered, “You are mine.”

If you’re looking for a fast paced book with lots of action and historical accuracy you better turn around and leave this review, because I can guarantee that you won’t get either of those two things if you start to read “And I Darken”. If you’re looking for a slow paced and very character driven story that has quite a unique setting and lives and breathes intrigues and machinations… Well, you’re welcome to stay! 😉

I really enjoyed this story because it was something different and even though there were some things you could argue about – for instance Lada’s full name being Ladislav which is definitely a male name that could have easily been changed into a female one – Kiersten White never claimed historical accuracy or well, I suppose just accuracy in that particular case. *lol* This book is placed in the genre of historical fiction after all and even though it borrows a few names and facts every now and then the story and the characters in it are clearly fictional. Just to put it out there as information for the people that might take offence when they read this. XD

And speaking of historical facts: Yes, Vlad II had two sons named Vlad (equivalent of Lada) and Radu who served as bargaining chips and were captives of Sultan Murad II. Funnily enough Mircea was actually Vlad’s elder brother and Radu (who was indeed called “Radu the handsome” or “Radu the fair”) was his half-brother. According to historical facts Vlad and his half-brother weren’t able to stand each other. Also Mehmed II (named Mohammed before he became the sultan) was actually Murad’s and Huma’s son. So there you go with the historical facts. History geek that I am, I probably could go into even more detail, but I’ll just leave it at that and talk about the fictional book instead. ;-P The history lesson is officially over now! You can breathe again. *lol*

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So this is the moment when I welcome you to Edirne where machinations and plots are brewing as thickly as a Mercimek Çorbası. If you don’t want to be spoiled you better leave now! If not: Be my guest and eat soup with me. 😉

Lada:

”Lada had a sense for power – the fine threads that connected everyone around her, the way those threads could be pulled, tightened, wrapped around someone until they cut off the blood supply. Or snapped entirely.”

This girl is fierce, relentless, unapologetic and tenacious. And she’s driven! Driven by her love for Wallachia, her brother and yes, even Mehmed. I think I rarely met a bookish character that was so self-assured and knew exactly what it wanted. Lada wants to go back to her homeland and her deep love for Wallachia trumps everything else. I think she’s kind of similar to Aelin when it comes to this, only that Aelin’s Terrasen is more like a vague idea of something that used to be and Lada’s Wallachia is everything that’s out of her reach. She’s longing for her country and her people and she’s ready to do whatever is needed in order to get back there. But she’s also conflicted. So very conflicted. She refuses to give up on her religion, she doesn’t want to adapt to Ottoman customs and she fights against her tutor, yet there is one thing or rather one person she can’t seem to be able to refuse and his name is Mehmed. Throughout the entire book it felt like she was torn inside and I suppose she was. Between what she wanted and what she needed or craved for. I’m not sure the ending solved that problem but she made a choice and she’ll have to live with it. For better or for worse. >_<

”She had to be the smartest, constantly surprising and delighting him. She was terrified that the day she stopped amusing him would be the day he remembered he had no use for a daughter.”

”She kept a pleasant smile on her own, kept her hands loosely folded in her lap, kept control. Control was power. No one would make her lose it. And eventually the tutor would realize that she would let him hit Radu over, and over, and over.
And only then would Radu be safe.“

”On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”

”Why was she still here? What had become of the girl who was the daughter of a dragon? Was this it, then? Had she reached the pinnacle of her potential? A command of fifty men in service of a man she loved, who ruled an empire she loathed?”

Radu:

”Radu had gotten all the beauty their father had wished on his daughter. His eyes were framed by thick lashes, his lips full, his gentle curls kissed with a hint of Saxon gold.”

To say Radu is a precious cinnamon roll would be kind of insulting because even though he is, the Slytherin in him is still strong! *lol* I really loved that about his character because it made him so much more intriguing. There is this beautiful and sweet boy that knows exactly how to use his good looks and charisma to his advantage and he never even hesitates to do just that. As long as it helps him to protect Lada and Mehmed he won’t have any qualms about his actions. If I’d have to describe Radu in a brief sentence I’d say that he is: Beauty with a sting. XD But despite all his good cheer and easy nature he’s also a very lonely and insecure character which is easy to see whenever he’s around Mehmed. At first he doesn’t even realize that what he feels for Mehmed is love and once he figures it out he’s trying to suppress it. Because of his good looks and friendly nature he was always teased and I think the fact that he harboured feelings for his best friend only made it even harder to come to terms with himself. His father basically thought he was soft and worthless so it’s no wonder he’s super insecure about his feelings. Especially at a time like that and in a country where the Sultan has an entire harem of women. It’s no wonder poor Radu is lost and I’m kind of afraid of what will happen to him in book two. =S

”And then, seeing the relief shining in Mehmed’s black eyes, Radu knew what he hoped for: He hoped for the best for his friend. Regardless of what that meant for himself.“

”What had Lazar seen? What did he suspect? Could he tell simply by watching Radu that something was very wrong with him, when even Radu did not understand what it was? All he knew was that there was some light, some pull, some fire that Mehmed carried, and Radu only felt truly alive when he was nearby.”

”You have both been so busy learning tactics and studying battles, you have failed to see the truth of where thrones are won and lost. It is in the gossip, the words and letters passed in dark corners, the shadow alliances and the secret payments. You think I am worthless? I can do things you could never dream of.”

”I know it would help you, to have someone you could trust on that throne. And I want to serve you, to do whatever I can to help you gain Constantinople and be the sultan your empire has waited for. I will do whatever I can. But please, I beg you, do not ask this of me.”

Mehmed:

”The more I pushed, the more they looked the other way. My father never saw me, my mother could not be bothered to take so much as a meal with me. No one cared who I was or what I became.”

Dare I say it? Yes, yes I do. Don’t kill me but I think in comparison to the complexity of Lada and Radu’s characters, Mehmed was actually pretty… bland? *lol* Ahh it feels good to get that off my chest. XD I really don’t know why both of them fell for him because aside of his occasional kindness there is actually not a lot that speaks for him. He’s as spoiled as you’d expect the son of a sultan to be and even though there was an obvious effort to show that he was never loved by his father he still had it so much better than anyone else. Mehmed might not have been happy about his role but he still played it and used his harem to father children. I guess in some way he was as torn about this as Lada and Radu were about their allegiances, but this certainly didn’t stop him from seeking out his harem and for using his power as he saw fit. So yes, underneath it all he’s still spoiled and carries some sort of entitled arrogance with him. Which ultimately didn’t make him all too likeable in my opinion. I DID appreciate his efforts to protect his infant brother though and I was as heartbroken as he was when Huma arranged for him to be killed. T_T

”I want you to think of an amount you feel is fair but generous. It is important to me that your soldiers – and you – know that no one values you or can take care of you as much as I can.” Mehmed’s smile dropped off, his eyes becoming as shard as his tone. “No one can offer you what I can, and if anyone tried, it would be treason.”

”He knew then that his posterity, his wandering, homeless people, would rule the world. Is how far we have come not a testament to the truth of his vision? I have inherited that, Lada. It is a calling and a dream I cannot deny. The tree is mine to spread, and I must.”

3

Radu & Lada:

Radu nodded, snuggling into her shoulder. “Will you protect me?”
“Until the day I kill you.” She jabbed a finger into his side, where he was most ticklish, and he squealed with pained laughter.

In some way this is such a typical sibling relationship and then again it isn’t. I think everyone who has a brother or a sister can relate to the rivalry between those two and sometimes even to the animosity they feel at the beginning of the book. Lada realizing that she loves and cares about her brother deeply is something very typical for siblings. When you’re little they are always there and steal the attention from you, so you try to get some of your parents attention too, but the older you get the more you realize that the person you took for granted is very dear to you and that you wouldn’t want to miss them for the world. So regarding their early years this felt very relatable. Their relationship as they grow older is something entirely different though. Where normal siblings would have gotten along by then, Lada and Radu are still struggling. It’s obvious they love each other but at the same time they also kind of hate what they’ve become. Lada can’t forgive Radu for embracing their new home and Islam and Radu doesn’t understand why Lada is holding on to their old ways. This by itself is a pretty interesting dynamic and if you add Mehmed into the mix it gets even more complicated. At first it was their father that sowed the seed of discord and later on it’s Mehmed. Lada knows about Radu’s feelings yet she also knows that Mehmed has only eyes for her, and Radu is painfully aware that Mehmed only wants his sister and not him. Despite all that their bond is strong and when push comes to shove it’s Lada, Radu rescues. XD I really wish those two siblings would have talked more and that Lada would have explained why she let their teacher hurt Radu. *sighs* What being apart will do to their already strained relationship I dunno, but you bet I’m ready to find out. 😉

”But they were both silent in the shared secret of their escape, the truth that Mehmed could never know. Their secret was deeper and darker than the pool in the woods. Lada took her brother’s hand and squeezed it, a grip as painful as their new bond. They had betrayed Mehmed.”

”You – It does not seem like you. I never thought you could do something like this.”
Radu stiffened. “You may have been the one who stopped the dagger last time, but I am the one who will know before the dagger ever comes close to Mehmed.”

”You saved me,” she said.
“Of course I did.”
She shook her head. “Not when I was falling. When Ilyas had us both on the floor. You chose me over Mehmed.”
“You are my family,” he whispered. Lazar had been right, after all.

”She did not acknowledge it or the immense gratitude welling in his eyes. She owed him a debt. Nothing was more important to him than Mehmed’s trust. Perhaps it would have been kinder to break that trust and force a removal. Maybe then Radu could be free of the impossible love he carried. But she could not do that to him, not when it was so easy to take this blow on her own shoulders.”

Lada & Mehmed:

”Would you command me to stay? And if I refuse? Will you have me beaten? Whipped? All that and more I have faced in your father’s courts. I did not bow before your god or your sultan then, and I will not now. Why did you bring me here, Mehmed? I will not be ruled.”
Mehmed’s face fell. He lowered his hand, and the line of his back – so straight – curved. “I have never wanted to be your master. I have servants. And teachers, and guards, and a father who despises me. I want you … to be my friend.”

I think this relationship was doomed from the beginning because neither Lada nor Mehmed are able to change the way they are. Lada’s first and only true love is Wallachia and Mehmed is the sultan of the Ottoman Empire and has responsibilities he’ll never be able to escape. If Lada would have given in they might have had a chance but she’s too independent and stubborn to give up her dreams. Also I probably would have disliked her if she would have chosen Mehmed over everything she loves. If you break it down to the basics all Mehmed can give her is being one of many women to bear him children, always standing on the sidelines, designated to be nothing more than the shadow of the sultan. Lada has to go her own way and even though she had to rip out her heart in order to do so, she made the sacrifice willingly because she knew it was necessary. She’ll never be a docile wife and Mehmed should have realized this way earlier than he did. Their cultures and stances just clash too much. So I think this ship has sunk even though I doubt that we’ll have seen the last of them together. *lol* There’s still book 2 and 3 after all so I’m sure they’ll meet again eventually.

”And the harem, I – It is not real, Lada. I visit, and they flit about like phantoms, like paintings. None of them are real to me.” He paused again, placing a hand flat against the door. “You are the only real thing in my life.”

Mehmed blinked rapidly, then shook his head. “Lada, I was not talking about my son. Do you think he is the only thing here I value?”
“Then what?”
“You! I will not take you into battle! You have no idea what the conditions are like, no idea how many ways there are to die.”

”Say you are mine.” He trailed his lips down her neck. She arched into him, digging her fingers into his back.
“I am yours,” she whispered. The words cut like knives, barely out of her mouth before he stole them, sealing them with his own lips.

“Because thinking like that is the only way to keep from losing our minds.”
“What about our souls?” Mehmed whispered.
Before Lada walked out, she paused at the door. “Souls and thrones are irreconcilable.”

Radu & Mehmed:

Mehmed put a hand on his shoulder, his smile healing the hurt of Lada’s mocking. “I know what you meant. This pool is as old and as pure as that story, I think.”
“It will be ours, then.” Radu beamed.
“Our secret,” Mehmed agreed.

First of all I’ve to say: DAMN IT!!! How could Mehmed not realize that Radu didn’t come along with them?!!?? Like seriously!! He’s his best friend and he didn’t realize his absence until about an hour or so has passed?! WTH??  Poor Radu! T_T It broke my heart! As did Radu being in love with Mehmed. I was constantly wondering if Mehmed is even aware of it but considering that he didn’t even notice Radu was missing he obviously only has eyes for Lada. It’s like Radu is some sort of afterthought and I hurt for Radu because he deserves so much better than that. I still don’t know how I feel about Radu’s marriage with Nazira but I suppose in some way it will be good for them both. I mean Nazira can be with her maid Fatima and be happy and maybe she’ll be a good companion for Radu. Someone he can confide in when he feels lonely and lost. That he had to kill Lazar because he betrayed Mehmed made me very sad but I understand why he did it. >_< Still, Lazar was an old and trusted friend that only tried to protect Radu so that he died at his own hands was a cruel twist. =(( I wish I would have gotten Mehmed’s POV because I think some part of him is aware that Radu loves him and even uses it to bind him to his side… His POV certainly would have been helpful in that regard. *lol* And I don’t even know who that guard from Constantinople was that held Radu’s gaze for such a long time but I’m pretty sure he would have been way more healthy for Radu than Mehmed. XD I’m kinda disappointed nothing happened between those two. *lol* But I’m pretty sure sooner or later Radu will meet a guy that will reciprocate his feelings and hopefully he’ll be ready to take the leap. =) He deserves to be loved and I hope it will happen in book two. XD

”He wanted Mehmed to look at him the way he had looked at Lada.
He wanted Mehmed to kiss him the way he had kissed Lada.
He wanted to be Lada.
No, he did not. He wanted to be himself, and he wanted Mehmed to love him for being himself.

„Radu knelt beside Mehmed, putting a hand on his shoulder. Mehmed looked up in surprise, but whatever he was about to say died on his lips as he squinted at Radu. Without a word, he threw himself forward. He wrapped his arms around Radu’s torso and buried his face in his shoulder.”

”She is lovely and a good match. And you will still be here.” He stopped and looked up. A hint of fear mingled with the trouble behind his eyes. “You will still be here.”
“Of course.”
“I depend on you. I trust you as I trust no one else.”
Radu smiled, lifting a hand to his heart. “And I you.”

After she was gone, Radu held Mehmed as he wept, Radu’s joy at cradling Mehmed was like a kick to the stomach, overpowering and destined to linger with bruises long after it was over.
“Never leave me.” Mehmed’s grief-choked voice still rang with command.
Radu closed his eyes. “I will never leave you.” Mehmed was in his arms, but he knew Lada was the only thing in Mehmed’s heart.

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Kiersten White took historical names and spun her own story around them and what a marvellous tale it turned out to be! If you like historical fiction and books with a slow plot and multifaceted, independent characters this one certainly will be for you. Add a little bit of love, jealousy, an LGBTQ rep and lots of intrigues and you’re all set for a while. ;-P