Elias and Laia are running for their lives.
After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.
Laia is determined to break into Kauf – the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison – to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.
But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene – Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.
Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own – one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape… and kill them both.
Let me start with the fact that I am so glad there are going to be two more in this series. This ended the adventure the first book started, but there is still so much to learn about the fates of the characters and the Empire.
This second installment picks up right where the first one left off, and it worked. I usually don’t like jumping into a second book immediately after the first one has ended, but I thought the first few chapters did well to remind us of what happened in the first installment and reintroduce us to the characters. This is a never ending roller coaster of action and intrigue.
Elias and Laia broker deals with charters we caught glimpses of in the first book, and take us through the tribal lands, letting us get a look at Elias’ childhood. I loved watching both the characters operate under the new ‘freedoms’ they have, and see them work together and bond outside of the school and all of those who were watching. It’s like we finally see them with no filters. We also see some of Laia’s old companions, and I have to say, I hated Keenan the whole time, and I hated how Laia was around him – but the ending to that relationship was an amazing reveal that I never saw coming.
The biggest difference in this book is the introduction of Helene’s POV. I think she is an amazing character, but didn’t know how I would like her added POV. Well, it works. Seeing her dealing with the ramifications of Marcus becoming Emperor, and the always devious Commandant is fascinating. And Helene never catches a break – maybe in the next one things will start looking up for her. She’s also revealed some pretty interesting secrets, and I kind of ship her with her new Lieutenant. . . we’ll see where that goes.
I cannot wait to see what’s next. Laia, Elias, and Helene all had to make some pretty big sacrifices in this book (Laia arguably was duped into hers but still) and I have no idea how it’s going to play out.