An Ember in the Ashes Series, Book 1
Sabaa Tahir's website
Description (taken from Sabaa Tahir's website):
LAIA is a Scholar living under the brutal 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 vow 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 will find that their destinies are more intertwined that either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.
Vow your blood and body to the empire.
Keep your heart for yourself.
Laia lives under the Martial Empire in Serra. After her home is raided and her brother is taken, Laia seeks out help from the rebels. But they require something in exchange for helping her free her brother. She must spy on one of the most unforgivable people at the Blackcliff school. She must learn the commandant's secrets without getting caught and before her brother dies.
Elias has grown up in the Blackcliff school: the school that trains Martials to act on command and without remorse. He's spent his time planning his escape into dreaming of a life of freedom. But when a wise old man promises him freedom by entering the trials to become the next emperor, he loses faith in his plan. And his life begins to weave around and in between Laia's life.
This book contains epic fantasy in an empire that is ruled by ruthless killers. And we see a lot of opression affecting both the slaves as well as the rulers. Too bad I couldn't get into this book until the last fifty pages. I can't really pinpoint what threw me off, but I think I got a little confused with how the classes worked. Not all Scholars were slaves, but they could become a slave at any time. And the masks that the Martials wore confused the crap out of me. There was just way too much death involved to keep my interest. I questioned whether this book was really meant for young adults. And then the last fifty pages happened. Now I want more.
This book has received a lot of high praise. It is a pretty big book, and I think others will enjoy it. If you had asked me half way through this book whether I'd read the next one, I'd probably tell you I didn't know if I could even finish this one. But after that ending? I kind of want to know what happens next...