Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be
Perhaps that’s where I went wrong?
Perhaps this book is enjoyable only if I allowed it to be? And I didn’t? Sorry ’bout that!
SPOILERS POSSIBLE: READ AT YER OWN RISK!
Why do I abhor thee, let me count the ways…
- THE GIRL
Laia wasn’t a girl I could root for. Her character was all over the place. Her feelings felt superficial, her concerns felt superficial. She was doing a series of things but I had no idea why she was doing it.
There were instances when she was all:
“But I’m not strong. I’m weak, and I’m sick of pretending I’m not.”
Other times she’s like:
“I do not doubt, I do not hesitate. I am the Lioness’s daughter, and I have the Lioness’s strength.”
And I’m like:
2. THE BOY
Kinda imagining a teenage, Gerard Butler lite possibly in a little more clothing (shucks!) shouting something like;
Elias was interesting in the half chapter when he was Ilyaas An-Saif of the tribal folk. In fact, this is also one of the saving graces for me as far as this book is concerned.
If it’s sequel promises to take us to the boy’s tribal setting and explore that background, then I’m right there with you, queuing for the midnight release! (Or don’t they do that with books anymore? *Sad face*)
The rest of the time Elias was flitting between his newfound attraction to his bosom buddy and fellow soldier-mate Helene (who is one of the good things, talk later) and the slave-girl who he happened to bump into and kinda, sorta, insta-loved.
And this is in the middle of the bloody Hunger Games mind you! The dude has been chosen as one of four aspirants which is another fancy word for tributes who will murder each other for the crown and kingdom, uh, empiredom!
And his biggest worry?
“…Laia is the wild dance of a Tribal campfire, while Helene is the cold blue of an alchemist’s flame.”
If this wasn’t a book and your bestie wasn’t such a loyal puppy, you’d be dead by Chapter Five, mister!
3. THE EVIL GENERAL LADY
The Commandant or the Evil General Lady as I call her is EVIL and MEAN and likes to maim slaves for the fun of it. So basically there is little to no humanity in her and I still have no idea what drives her. Of course this could be all me if she’s yet to be developed you know, cuz it be a trilogy and then I swear to eat all these words, I will print them and eat them.
She was supposed to be the Big Bad Wolf of this story, manipulated by you know, the Big Bad whatever those shadowy chappies are but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel the tragidity – hee – of the mother and son, I didn’t understand why she gotta be so mean. I’m sorry but she was pretty damn one dimensional to me.
4. THE GIRL
Oh did I mention the girl already?
No but seriously!
Your only family is rotting and possibly being tortured to death in prison, Laia! And I feel like I care more about him than you do!
But I suppose I do like a bit of thee…
1. HELENE ❤
Helene is the only girl in her graduating class of elite warriors. That in itself has me in the throes of a major girl crush.
She’s not badass for the sake of badassery, a trend I’ve noticed in recent YA fantasy where you know, selling the strong, female character is just done because, hey, y’all love strong, female characters no?
Helene is badass because she’s a soldier, living among boys that are trained to kill and plunder and desecrate in the name of their Empire, wear masks that mold into their face as if the facelessness will slowly ebb away any humanity left in their souls.
Helene is loyal to Elias to a fault, and it made her sacrifice in vain and also a source of sadness, because Elias was not on the same page. She was the neglected sidekick, the shadow behind the Chosen One. And very, very real.
2. BLACKCLIFFS + THE MASKS
The school itself is a ridiculously epic premise! Let us train you, elite Roman warrior children!!
Also those silver masks that meld into your face. what are they? I need to know more about these things!
He sounds like a rebel warrior, angsty, ginger, cuddly Ed Sheeran – I rest my case.
Read it on a Kindle
“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, 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.”
An Ember in the Ashes – By Sabaa Tahir