Laia is forced into a dangerous mission after the ruling class kills most of her family and takes her brother captive. She’s sent to spy on the leader of a military school in exchange for the rebels rescuing her brother. On the other side of the conflict is Elias, who has just graduated from this military school and is planning to desert. Before he has a chance, he’s forced to participate in a set of trials, battles to the death with several of his fellow graduates. Neither Laia nor Elias know that their fates are intertwined, manipulated together by outside forces.
That’s a stupid summary for a very good book. I loved watching both Laia and Elias develop over time. Both gather strength and courage over time, in different ways, and seeing their relationships with all the various characters change throughout the book was my favorite part of this. There’s still so much we don’t yet know by the end of the novel, to be continued in further editions. The next book just released and I’m definitely looking forward to reading it.
My only complaint had nothing to do with the book itself, but with the production. I started the book in print, but knew I wouldn’t have a lot of time to devote to it in that medium. I got the audiobook next, read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. I adored West’s sections, but I didn’t like Hardingham’s sections at all. They weren’t bad, but her interpretation of Laia was a bit more high-pitched and hysterical than I’d read her in print, and so I had a bit of a disconnect with it the entire time I listened. I’m not saying it’s a bad audiobook, not at all, just that it didn’t particularly work for me. I’ll simply read the following volumes in print.