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.
First of all, THIS IS NOT A STAND ALONE, just the way it ended it has too many loose ends that needs to tie up, but thank god a sequel was announced and I am excited. This is one of the best books I read this year. I was skeptical at first because the book was very hyped up, and most times when anything is hyped up it usually disappoints, but this was not the case.
The book does a very good job world building, and giving us a good setting and an idea of the conflict that is going on. The characters are also very well written and developed. Laia gets pushed into the story by trying to help her brother after a raid kills her grandparents and arrests her brother, and is forced to work as a spy for a rebel group. Elias, wants to escape the Empire, and be free. It reminded me a lot of Legend, which also has two POV protagonists, both on opposite sides of Empire spectrum. Another favorite character is Izzi, who Laia befriends while working at the Academy, and what is missing from alot of YA books is friendships, while romance is what sells books, friendships develops the characters. Other characters include an Augur named Cain, who is one of my favorite characters , the Commandant and Elias’s mother who I would describe as a crazier version of Queen Cersie from Game of Thrones, Marcus, who is almost a Joffrey like Cadet and Helene, who I like to describe as a mix of Hermione and Annabeth.
The plot is also great as, Elias, and his other school mates are forced in what is basically a Hunger Games version of the Triwizard Tournament, which also further is relationship with Helene another school mate in the Trials, with Laia spying for the rebels.
Yes, this book kinda has a love triangle, but its not a stupid love triangle or could be a love rhombus, between Laia, Elias, Keenan and Helene, but their characters are actually fully developed so its actually alright.
I know, there is so much more I should cover but honestly just read the book, its a great read, I give the book a 4.8 out of 5.