“Two longstanding rivals.”
“And only one robe to bear.”
“Who will win? The handsome prince?”
“Or his valiant betrothed?”
Ryiah is finally a black mage, but she is not the black mage. Yet. With the Candidacy approaching, she pushes herself to her limits in order to defeat the only person that stands in her way. The boy she loves. But nothing is ever easy, and she has to prove her value time and time again, while trying to maintain control of her life. To make matters even worse, the royal family hates her and her country is on the brink of war against an enemy they cannot win, unless they secure the support from every other nation. But the real enemy remains unknown, until it is too late.
“That’s the thing about enemies. You never know who they could end up being.”
Does loving Candidate even though it was a brutal and tear-jerking roller-coaster that made me forget how to breathe make me a masochist? Whatever the answer is, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that this book tore me apart piece by piece and at the same time it completed me. It filled me with strong, devastating love. Love towards the plot, the characters and Rachel E. Carter. After this ending though I am not so sure about the latter. I can imagine Rachel writing the last chapters rubbing her hands, with a smirk in her lips and an evil gleam in her eyes.
Oh who am I kidding? I still love her. I love her because Candidate was different from the previous books in this series but equally brilliant. Because she wrote a solid high fantasy book, featuring every single element that makes me love this genre so much; politics, court intigue, murders, betrayals, deception, magic battles, blood. The writing was fluid and engaging, it got you with great precision inside Ryiah's head while uncovering the darkest secrets of the royal family, and the darkest secrets of her own family. While tragedies happened and insane plot twists took the air away from my lungs and punched me in the stomach and all I could do was watch. And suffer. And in my experience, if a book is capable of causing such a whirlwind of emotions, it is an epic book.
“Loyalty is never built upon honor, brother. It is built upon blood.”
I don't know how I feel about Ryiah. I spent most of the book angry at her for her recklessness and her decisions, judging her for being so darn competitive. But if I had to make the choices she made, if I was constantly deemed unworthy despite my efforts, if my nation and my family were falling apart, I don't know if I would act any differently. While flawed, she is realistic.
“Darren wasn’t darkness, and I wasn’t his light.
I needed to show him he was fire. My fire. Something filled with light. Something good. Something just like me but wrapped up so tightly in his own barrier of darkness it could burn. Unless you knew how to unravel him.”
What can I say about Darren? That my heart bled for him? That I shivered when his past was revealed? That I cried when he chose Ryiah? He is not one of the heroes who go easy on the girl they love, who try to change for her. He is far from perfect, and that's why I love him.
Dear Rachel E. Carter, I beg you to make things right in Last Stand and give my heroes the happily ever after they deserve, because I know that deep down you hurt when they hurt. If not, I watch Bones and I know how to dispose of a body.
Until then, I will die a thousand deaths.