Author: Sabaa Tahir
Reading Level: YA
Released: February 9th 2016
Review Source: Razorbill
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 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, it’s 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 was hesitant in the beginning as I’d never heard of this author and was wary about it since it was proving so popular… I was wrong, it was a great read and I ate it all up within two days. Which makes me sad since I don’t know when the next installment will be released, while I eagerly await it. This book had everything, from a dystopian society with a feeling similar to Hunger Games meets Riddick, with espionage and a slight of romance but it was barely a thing (certainly not the main thing), which is a nice change and I wouldn’t mind it being more prominent in future installments.
Honestly, I hadn’t thought of picking up this book just yet, until a friend invited me to join their book club and this is what everyone was reading in preparation. IT WAS A GREAT READ, seriously I hadn’t expected it and it just snuck up on me like any Mask and glued my eyes to the page. The world is reminiscent of ancient Rome and their global take over with their grandeur, and shows the side of humanity and the resistance that fights to keep their identity under the tyranny.
One person described it as Hogwarts but if Hogwarts were Sparta, and while they weren’t wrong there isn’t as much magic as they implied. So please do not be put off if magic is not your thing, it’s not a thing if anything it’s a very small thing. Give it a read and you’ll see why it’s suddenly becoming so popular, and I look forward to the movie as there’s already a trailer for it!
This novel falls under many genera’s; Fantasy/Magic, Young Adult/Teen, Science Fiction/Dystopia, Romance.