Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death.
When Laia’s grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels.
But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s greatest military academy. Should she fail it’s more than her brother’s freedom at risk . . . Laia’s very life is at stake.
There, she meets Elias, the academy’s finest soldier. But 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.
This book was so good! I absolutely loved every minute of it and would definitely recommend it. It was so action packed and it had a really awesome story. I went into this book not knowing anything about it and I really enjoyed learning about this world and it’s history. The world building was incredible! It sets everything up for you perfectly, it was so detailed and it was easy to picture how everything looked.
The story itself is told from two perspectives: Laia and Elias. Laia is a Scholar and Elias is a Martial. There was a war between the two and the Martial’s defeated the Scholars and enslaved them. This made the story really interesting for me because Laia and Elias are on two completely different sides and we get to experience both sides. Each chapter is told from Laia and Elias so chapter one is from Laia’s point of view, chapter two Elias and so on. At first I thought this would be really confusing and hard to follow but it isn’t at all. It was very easy to follow and I could easily tell them both apart. I love how the chapters intertwine at times and follow on from one another.
I love how action packed this book was. Right from the start so much happens which really surprised me because normally books start off quite slow in the first few chapters. But this book was incredible from start to finish. It made me want to keep reading and the way each chapter ends was so agonising. They nearly always end on a cliffhanger and even if you wanted to put the book down, you couldn’t. You just had to find out what was going to happen. It kept you guessing and it kept you wanting more. This was one of the reasons why I love this book so much.
The character development was amazing, especially with Laia. At the start of the book she is a very weak character and believes herself to be cowardly. She runs from danger and saves herself even though it means her brother Darin being imprisoned and tortured. She deeply regrets this though and finds a way to save her brother and I really loved this. I love how family orientated this book was and how it shows the love between siblings. It shows how strong the love is between family and how you would do anything for your brother or sister. This is the first book I’ve read where I truly feel it has captured that bond between siblings so perfectly and I love how much it focuses on that. Towards the end of the book Laia is a much stronger character and I loved watching her slowly become stronger. I’m excited to see what she will be like in the second book! I also can’t wait to see if she manages to free her brother in the end and if their relationship will be any different.
I really enjoyed reading Elias’s chapters. He was such an interesting character mainly because of how much he despises being a Mask. He is supposed to be dangerous, cruel and merciless. But he is none of those things and he is desperate to fight for a life free of this cruelty. He refuses to stand by and watch offers get hurt and does everything he can to protect people he cares about. It was so interesting reading about him after seeing how much Laia hates the Masks.
I definitely want Laia and Elias to end up together. I loved watching Laia’s thoughts about Elias change the more she spoke to him and got to know him. She is scared of him and she despises him for what he is but when she really starts talking to him properly she realises that he is nothing like the other Masks and he is a completely different person. I love how much Elias helped Laia also. He went out of his way to help a slave and risked his own life for her. I cannot wait to see more of them together in the next book. I thought it was also interesting how you were able to read from the perspective of a Mask. You are told to hate them by Laia but then you get to know a lot of the Masks when you read from Elias’s perspective which makes it so hard to hate them because you grow to love most of them.
I’m really excited to read the next book! If you haven’t read An Ember in the Ashes then you need to change that.
“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.”
“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.”
“There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It’s damaged but it’s there. Don’t let them take it from you.”