My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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.
Cover: Love it!
Rating: 4 Stars
Overall: Intense and Exciting!
Characters: Well Written
Plot: In a world torn by war, two sworn enemies have the chance to change everything, or die trying.
Page Turner: Yes
Series Cont.? Yes
Favorite Character: Elias
Review: This book was one of my favorites this year! (And as with series, I only rated it 4 stars because I can see it getting better from here, but I might bump it to 5 later on!) Filled with danger, pain, love, hope, and fear, this is a thrilling debut and a great start to another amazing fantasy read!
I really enjoyed the characters in this, from Elias, Laia, and Keenan to the Commandant, Marcus, and Cain, this book with filled with characters who left an impression. Faced with impossible challenges and with the odds against them, each character's choices affected the outcome, not just for them, but for those around them. With a dash of magic, and fantasy elements for good measure, this book just kept getting better!
One thing that has caused a lot of controversy, but that I also feel adds to the story in a way is the topic of rape. While I am completely against rape, I also acknowledge it happens and feel that this book does two things. First it raises awareness that this is still a problem. Second it gives characters like Laia and Elias a chance to show there true nature. Laia is really a fighter, and I feel will live up to her mother's title, shown more after Marcus' treatment of her. I feel this was a turning point for her, and afterwards she became a stronger character. Elias is the opposite, his mother being cruel and controlling encouraged the ill-treatment of slaves and those of 'lesser' rank. Elias instead stands against rape and other injustices, becomes both more of a hero, and shows that despite the odds Martials and Masks alike are able to care, and that there is hope for a brighter future. So while I hated the parts that mentioned rape, especially so casually, it did show how hard and unyielding the world they live in is, showing the readers some of what the characters see in their vision for a better life.