Publisher:Penguin Random House
Rating: 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.
WHAT A STORY! I will probably say this a lot about books that I read, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. Let me start by saying Laia is a beast. She is very strong, brave, and very confident in trying to save her brother. Sold to the Commandant as a slave and a spy for the Rebels has put Laia in a tight spot. With time running out who can she really trust? Can she trust Elias Veturius, the Commandant’s son or the boy who once knew her father in the Rebels? My money is on Veturius! The chemistry between these two is impeccable!
” I want to ask her to dance. I want to touch her skin and talk to her and pretend that I’m just a normal Tribal boy and she’s just a normal Scholar girl.”
Veturius is in a tight spot as well, between choosing Laia or Helene. Helene and Veturius have known each other since they were born, and Helene shows Veturius her feelings for him, but he is too conflicted to see them. Not only is he deciding which girl he loves, but he wants his freedom from the Masks and most important from his mother. Veturius has his moments where he seems like a fully developed character and other times he lacks that factor. Veturius is such a sweet, smart, composed, fun, and protective character when he is fully developed. This Veturius has captured my heart and he will capture yours as well.
The story was full of adventure, sadness, and moments that made me cringed . I always like to guess while I’m reading who the antagonists are in the story. With this book, I had so many guesses that I could not keep up if I was right or not. You can tell the author really took her time coming up with this story and trying to develop her characters lives carefully, and the creatures she uses in the trials.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and I CAN NOT wait till the sequel comes out at the end of this month. The only thing that got to me is that the beginning is slow but once you get past the first few chapters everything starts to come together and it just pulls you in.