Hamilton Book Tag

I’m deep, deep in dissertation writing hell. I can’t do anything that’s going to stretch my brain too much, like putting down coherent thoughts about a book. So when I saw this tag over on Thrice Read I thought it’d be fun. Like the girls there I’m obsessed (obsessed) with Hamilton, but I’m sure you can enjoy this post without knowing the show.

Alexander Hamilton: Favourite Flawed Hero

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I have a few contenders for this, so here are a couple of honourable mentions (you can tell already I’m going to be bad at this tag shenanigans):

Mia Corvere from Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight: the only reason Mia didn’t win this was because I am in fear of gushing too much about this book. Not so much in fear that I won’t mention it whenever I get the chance. I have many feelings about Mia, but you can read my full review here.

Locke Lamora from Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastard series: I love Locke. I think he’s a great flawed hero, too smart and too stupid for his own good, the bravest coward out there. But part of what makes him great is his friendship with Jean, and it’s their relationship that makes him do all the things that make me love him. (Full review here)

Delilah Bard from V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series: cross-dressing thief with dreams to be a pirate and go adventuring. Awesome.

So finally, the winner is:

Kvothe from Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles: The Name of the Wind is one of my all-time favourite books, and an enormous part of that is Kvothe. He is a legend of his own making, a musician, a genius and a wizard of sorts. He also screws up royally. He and Alexander Hamilton have a lot in common.

King George III: Favourite Villain

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Ozymandias from Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons: sorry if this is a spoiler (you can read my review of this here). The smartest man in the world, who uses destruction to create peace.

John Laurens: Favourite Supporting Character

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Rhy from V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series: Prince Rhy seems like he should have been a hero in his own story, but his best friend/adopted brother Kell is the one with magical powers, off having adventures. The complexity of his relationship with Kell is great, but he is a well developed character on his own. Lots of fun and feelings to be had.

Hercules Mulligan: Character who snuck in and stole your heart

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Noah Czerny from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle (review to come): I know I’m not alone in this. Basically any of the Raven Boys fit this description, but Noah is perhaps the most tragic.

Marquis de Lafayette: Best Friend OTP

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Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen from The Gentlemen Bastard series: as mentioned above, these guys have the ultimate friendship. It gets them into a lot of trouble. A lot.

Elizabeth Schuyler: Doomed OTP

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Sonea and Akkarin from Trudia Canavan’s Black Magician’s Trilogy (review here): I still love Akkarin and Sonea. I miss them. I have to re-read these books. Their love story is secondary to the plot, which I like, and is built on both of them being trapped in a secret neither of them wanted, making them pariahs and alienating them from their friends, but which they know is necessary to save everyone. They’re heroes, they’re badass. I love them.

Angelica Schuyler: Baddest Bitch

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Lada from Kiersten White’s And I Darken (review here): Baddest. Bitch. Out there. Right now. Mia Corvere is a close second, for slightly different reasons.

George Washington: Favourite Parental Figure

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Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter books: NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!

Says it all, really.

Thomas Jefferson: Character with all the best lines

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Johannes Cabal from Johannes Cabal: The Necromancer (and all subsequent books) by Jonathan L. Howard: The first two and a half pages were enough to make me fall in love with Cabal. He’s witty and sarcastic and dry and so, so clever.

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And that’s it. My first ever tag! Hope you enjoyed. Back to normal reviews soon. Maybe before September. Maybe after the dissertation. Sob.

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And I Darken by Kiersten White

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Last week I was on holiday and I read four books – so stay tuned for more reviewing!

Contrary to my usual format, I don’t know if there’s going to be a ‘what I didn’t like’ section for this book. I blasted through this in a day, even though it is 400…500? pages long (I don’t have it with me, awks). This book was released the day before I went on holiday, and I stayed in all day (partly doing dissertation work and packing…partly in anticipation) to wait for my pre-order to arrive. I’m so glad it did, this was a highlight of my reading month. Let’s get into the review.

Synopsis

And I Darken is a retelling of the life of Vlad the Impaler – but in this case, Vlad is a girl, Lada. The blurb markets her as a princess the likes of whom you have never experienced. And while I was initially doubtful this book would deliver on that promise, I can safely say it did. Lada is fierce and fiercesome, determined, proud, loyal but not blindly, and entirely self-centred. Against the rich backdrop of the Ottoman Empire, Lada and her exact opposite brother, Radu the Handsome, must navigate the complicated political terrain, wrestle with their own constantly warring feelings toward each other, and figure out once and for all where their own loyalties lie. Initially, they are unwilling to trust Mehmed, who is after all the son of the sultan who holds them hostage against their father, but soon the three of them come to love and rely on each other in an environment where they can trust little else.

What I liked

Let’s start with the obvious: Lada. She was just great. Flawed in unexpected but un-irritating ways. Quite human, and yet utterly inhuman as well. I related to her more than I thought I would. Radu and Mehmed too, are wonderfully crafted characters. Radu and Lada hold the main third-person narration, and while I connected with each of them in different ways I didn’t find myself placing my own character on them – I liked them, as if they were people I knew and I was invested in what they were trying to achieve. Brilliant characterisation.

The setting. This is a period in history (and geography) I know very little about. Fascinating reading – can’t comment on the accuracy of the research but it was flawlessly utilised in the storytelling, not imposing or overwhelming but (certainly from the perspective of a know-nothing Ottoman-ignorant like me) felt real. Well-composed, narratively astute and complementary to the story.

The length. This is an odd one to choose, probably. But as much as I love a chunky book, this one was on the short side of an epic and the long side of a YA novel. It was just the right length for a day of sofa-bound reading when I got sick on holiday. It didn’t drag, and it didn’t rush.

What I didn’t like

Had to put this section in here just for standard formatting sake but do I have anything I didn’t like?

Not really. I felt pretty good about most aspects of this.

I guess, could have had a bit more of the Dad? Prince Vlad of Wallachia The whole conflict on his side of things sounded quite fun, with forces amassed against him, and him an uncaring, spineless and selfish leader. BUT I reckon we’re going to get more of the conflict in Wallachia in the next book, and through a more interesting lens too (but here there be spoilers, so I shan’t elaborate).

Should I read this?

If you’re in the market for some historical epic, without conventional romances or history itself quite as you know it, or if you want to complex, engaging, and morally dubious characters, or if you have been hearing about this and weren’t sure whether to pick it up, then YES. Do read it. Then let me know what you think. Can’t wait for book two.

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