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.
Some thoughts I texted to Jess while reading:
- Oh no my best friends in love with me. Are all girls like this?
- Why are they so confusing I can’t handle basic human emotions and I just generalize all girls because she’s the only one I know
- I liked it at first because she wasn’t in love with him. She was annoyed when he stared at her and told him to get his life together
- So not only is his best friend a girl and in love with him, he finally meets the other main character and they fall in love instantly blah blah blah
I mean, they’re not together, but they had that instant eyes meeting let’s stare at each other for minutes on end like nothing else mattered before now
- “I shout at her now because I’m so angry at her for loving me”
This is an actual sentence that I just had to read with my own two eyes
“If she had controlled her emotions we never would have fought”
Aaaaaaand it got worse
- I want to like Elias, I really do, but he’s so [damn] stupid that I want to shove him off a cliff.
And we’ve gotten to the part where the best friend hates being in love him. Of course.
- Honestly, if this book were only Elias, I wouldn’t keep reading. I like Laia’s story so far. Even if she can’t help loving Elias because that’s what you do in a YA novel.
- It is strange though that they both have other love interests. It’s a love square instead of a triangle.
I mean, there’s not much to know about Keenan so far. Other than he’s with the resistance. And her father saved his life. At least he’s not an idiot like Elias.
- And now, Elias and Helene have to fight each other to the death. That’s one way to get rid of a love interest.
So. He didn’t kill his best friend. But they literally gave him Laia as a prize for winning.
Now for a semi-real review:
This book mentions rape as a punishment for women, almost every other chapter. Not only mentions but characters are actively threatening (and almost succeeding) to rape other characters. And I am just… so tired. I need for all authors to do better.
I almost didn’t finish this book, but I have hope for the next one. Because the story is interesting and I want to know what happens. The idea of the augurs basically overthrowing the current emperor to host the trials for a new one is pretty interesting. The weird family dynamic of Gens Veturius is intriguing. Plus the drama within the resistance and how Laia and her family are connected and the betrayal that got her parents killed. I’m waiting every other chapter to see if it’s finally revealed. I’m always expecting anyone she talks to to slip up and give a hint that they were part of the reason her family was killed.
As annoyed as I was at some parts of the book, I’m excited to read the next one, and I’d give this one 3.5 bards.