Genre: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Razorbill (4.28.2015)
ARC, 443 pages
LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.
ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.
When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.
With all the hype surrounding this one, I was honestly afraid that I would end up being disappointed. But guys, the hype is definitely not exaggerated because this book was gorgeous! I am so in love with Sabaa Tahir’s writing, her prose is freaking beautiful! There were so many quotable lines! (The pages were filled with my little neon book flags!) Not to mention that the idea is original, and the world is unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
The Augurs were sooo creepy! They kind of reminded me of the Silent Brothers from The Mortal Instruments series. (Like I said, creepy) The feel of this world was just…gah. I loved it so much, I want to crawl into the pages and live there! I seriously want to re-read it already. I looved the fact that there was a touch of fae involved. Efrits! Jinns! And the shadows were totally creepy! I love that there was a fantasy quality to it that I wasn’t expecting.
Laia’s treatment was awful. I was appalled over and over again by the way the slaves were treated. They would get beaten or scarred for the dumbest of things:
Three lashes on my legs for a dust stain on my skirt. Four lashes on my wrists for not finishing her mending. A black eye from a Skull in a foul mood.
It was insane. The Commandant was a raging bitch, her ruthlessness was scary! And all of the masks just went along with it. The fact that they were all so cold and unfeeling was kind of disturbing.
By the way, there’s a love square in this book. Yes. A square. I’m still not really sure how I feel about that. It didn’t really bother me, surprisingly, but I’m still confused on who I ship. On one hand, I loved Keenan. I liked him from the second he was introduced! I kind of shipped Laia with him. And I liked Elias and Helene, even if they were a bit awkward because of the whole friendship evolving into more thing. But then Elias and Laia finally came together. And I was confused. Because I shipped them, too! I don’t know who I wanted to be with who. I loved Elias and Laia – they’re kind of amazing together even though their relationship is forbidden. (Which is why Laia + Keenan and Elias + Helene makes more sense.) I’m still leaning toward liking Keenan more than Elias, but Helene is a different story. While I kind of shipped Helene and Elias, I didn’t like her at all. She bugged me in some indefinable way, I guess? Sometimes she was a little cold, and her view of the Scholars kind of disgusted me; but she wasn’t bad, necessarily. I just didn’t like her.
The only complaint I have is that I would have liked more information on the society. Illustrians, Mercators, Plebians, Scholars…I wish their roles had been explained in more detail. I didn’t really understand the hierarchy, other than Scholars were kind of at the bottom. I crave more of this world!
The Trials were crazy!! *shudders* View Spoiler »I was surprised that I actually felt upset in the Trail where they all had to fight and kill each other. I thought for sure it wasn’t real (actually, there were a lot of things in the Trials that I thought/hoped weren’t real), and that it was just a mental thing. Nope. It was so horrible :( I can’t imagine that. « Hide Spoiler
Soo…this one is not listed as a series. I hope that will change, because there needs to be a second book!!
“But you are the one I remember best. For the Augurs dream the future: all outcomes, all possibilities. And you are woven through every dream. A thread of silver in a tapestry of night.”
“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”
“You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes. That is your destiny.”
In another flash of insight, born of the awareness that only makes itself known deep in the night, when the mind opens strange doors, I realize something else. This is not a quiet lie. It is violent and shattering.
The voice is deep and soft, not a sound so much as a feeling. It is storm and wind and leaves twisting in the night. It is roots sucking deep at the earth, and the pale, sightless creatures that live below ground. But there’s something wrong with this voice, something diseased at its core.
“But there are two kinds of guilt, girl: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”
“Fear can be good, Laia. It can keep you alive. But don’t let it control you. Don’t let it sow doubts within you. When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.”
Writing style: 5/5
Overall rating: 5/5