Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
I am blown away by this book. There is so much hype surrounding this novel that I was scared I wouldn’t like it as much, but I have to say it completely lives up to the hype. It was action-packed, thrilling, and just all around fantastic. The characters were amazing and even the villains are written so beautifully that you can’t help but be completely drawn into this world. I am so invested in this story now and can’t wait to read more.
I have to say that Elias Veturius is definitely my favorite character right now. I felt so much sympathy for him! He deals with one of the biggest internal struggles I have seen. He desperately wants to break his chains that the Empire holds on him. I can’t wait to see him be completely free and happy because my heart breaks for this guy. His chapters were definitely my favorite because he so much going on between the Trials and his confusion over his relationship with Helene, plus his drawing attention to Laia. His journey is one to watch.
Laia, was another delight. Her chapters weren’t as entertaining because she spent most of her time just trying to survive being a slave to one of the most disgusting villains I’ve read since Levana (The Lunar Chronicles). Laia has her own internal struggle as she sees herself as the biggest coward because she didn’t stay to save her brother. Her motivation to save her brother is what drives her and it’s her loyalty that makes her so likeable. I can’t wait to see her just turn completely bad@ss!
This book had some pretty awesome secondary characters. I really enjoyed Izzi and Keenan and surprisingly Helene too. I hear so many mixed reviews on Helene but I didn’t mind her. I could feel how strained her relationship with Elias had gotten and how confusing this was for her. My heart was breaking for their friendship at the end because they have been friends for years and I just felt like it’s going to hurt for them to reunite in the future and be on opposite sides. I feel it.Keenan was okay. I liked him, but I wish I would have been able to see more of him to get a better grasp on him.
But, the Commandant! Oh my god this woman was awful! You have to hand it to Tahir for writing one of the most awful persons in YA. Her relationship with her son and the way she sees him is heartbreaking! She really gives me the creeps.
The plot was a little slow at times and felt like nothing was really happening, but the characters are so fantastic that I hardly even noticed. You really get to know the characters and what they are going through. The world-building was fantastic and it will be interesting to see more in the coming novels. The writing made it really easy to get into and see everything enfold perfectly. I was hooked from page one.
What was a little funny was how we basically got a love square. I’ve seen people hate the romance in this book and it killed it for them, but to me it was so far in the background. Yes there is a lot of attraction that Laia and Elias keep thinking about, but it didn’t overshadow everything going. At least not in my opinion.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. The wait for the sequel is going to be unbearable and I sympathize for those who have been waiting since last year.
If you have not read this book yet, READ IT!
Well, that’s it. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great day!
Until next time,