I honestly DO NOT know where to begin.
I went into this book not knowing anything about it. Honestly, what happened was this:
Friend: Audible is great! You should get it!
Me: Oh okay!
Me: *gets audible*
Me: *First Book Free*
Me: Well, Let’s see what books – Oh An Ember in the Ashes, I remember wanting to read that and a lot of people freaking out about it. Why not?
Me: *Finds a piece of my dreams and my soul I didn’t know was missing while reading this book*
So know, here I am, finally understanding why Sabaa Tahir’s first book is beyond wonderful. It’s spectacular.
The Scholars are enslaved by the Martial Empire and they live basically as punching bags and in fear of them. Laia and her family do everything they can to blend in and not cause any attention; that is, until her brother is arrested for treason. After a very heartbreaking scene, Laia sets out and finds the Resistance and makes a deal with them: If they help her break her brother free, she will become their spy within Blackcliff: the infamous military academy that breeds human weapons, otherwise known as Masks, whose only purpose is death and destruction in the name of the Empire.
Enters Elias: Blackcliff’s most promising and envied student. So it must come to a surprise that Elias plans to desert because he can’t be a Mask and have a clear conscious. When he is caught, he is told that the only way to truly free himself from the Empire is to participate in The Trial that will determine whom the next Emperor is, though the Trials so harsh and brutal that he may lose himself to begin with.
Very intriguing, yes? Just read on. I won’t give too much away.
So, let’s talk about the female voice in this book: Laia
What I love about this book is that Laia doesn’t all of a sudden come into a power that she, for some reason, already understands and knows how to use and she is conquering the world like so many young adult books start out. She is literally the same through out the book. Not in her character and her heart, mind you, but in her skill. She follows what she thinks is right and she acts on heart, just like a young girl would do. She is very relatable. I mean half the things she finds herself doing are terrifying and she is terrified like a normal human being.
Okay, now for the hunk: Elias
Boy, ohhh boy. I needed a guy like this to read about. He is your typical guy, if you look past his killer instinct and the weapon that he was shaped into. He is distracted by any attractive woman around him and that for me, is so realistic it’s hilarious. He isn’t the guy who “only has eyes for that one girl” that everyone dreams about. He is literally a typical guy. Whether it be his best friend Helene, who is also a hardcore Mask, the slave-girl, that other girl and that girl that one time.
Now I want to point out that just because these two share voices in this book (two POVs) doesn’t mean that they are each other’s love love interest. There are other people in the running….
Also, WARNING: Don’t read this book if you are not for lots of blood, killing, and just lots of action and gore. It’s brutal and I loved it, but that isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea.
The audio book of this, narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West, was wonderful (especially West). I would say the experience was extraordinary.
I hardcore LOVED this book and I am anxious to continue on with the series!
Also, again, Elias: