500 years of Martial rule have wrought oppression and persecution for the Scholars of the Empire but in all that time, their passion for learning and their desire for freedom hasn’t diminished. Laia, a member of a prominent Scholar family, helps her grandparents earn a meager living until her brother Darin is caught and arrested as a traitor of the Empire. Not content to let Darin die at the Empire’s hands, Laia goes undercover as a Resistance spy.

Although this Roman Empire-inspired title is riddled with familiar tropes that make it sound like a dystopian novel – quashed intellect, a great foretelling, fights to the death, a despotic regime – they are presented in ways that make them feel new and exciting. It helps that Tahir presents a world in which many of the characters are not strictly good or evil, but realistically complex people who make both good and bad choices. Tahir also excelled in her ability to provide significant backstory – via flashbacks, dreams, and dialogue – for the characters, the magic, and for what led up to the events that take place in the story, without slowing down the story’s quick-paced tempo. This gripping military fantasy is for fans of romance, action, and adventure.