I have not read a book that brought me to my limits like this one in a long time. I panicked more than a few times, I feared for a life and I got entangled in the story. Sabaa Tahir’s novel is straight-out a masterpiece.
A long time ago, the Martials overthrew the great Scholar Empire and made them slaves. Since then, the academy of Blackcliff has been training Masks to sharp perfection and the dedication to kill.
When a Mask kills her grandparents and imprisons her brother, the Scholar girl Laia sees no other option to save her brother than to align with the Resistance – the rebels who wish to overthrow the Martials and end their reign once and for all.
Determined to save her brother, Laia will do anything in order to keep the Resistance on her side – even take the dangerous mission to spy on the Commander of Blackcliff, the most feared woman in all of the Empire.
At Blackcliff, Laila meats the fierce soldier Elias, who despite being a fully trained Mask, wants nothing more than to escape from its cruelty. Together, they realize their fates are intertwined and that their decisions could change the world as they know it.
This story, we can be sure of that, is well inspired by other great novels and therefore shows similarities, but what’s the harm? It was magnificent.
First of all, I could really sympathize with Laila, the protagonist, because she kept doubting her abilities and I am no stranger to that. She always struggled with the thought of being a coward while she only had the best interest at heart for the people she loved which makes her an excellent character.
Second of all, I also really enjoyed Elias’ point of views as they gave you perspective of the life at Blackcliff and added a different touch to the story. His chapters were chapters full of action, fight and tragedy which was the perfect mix for Laia’s more slow, deeper chapters.
Furthermore, I also loved Helene. Maybe a little too much, for what it’s worth. Dumb me even shipped Elias and Helene at first, but I’m wiser now and that’s all that matters. But all in all, I really liked how her character unfolded and how her intentions suddenly became clear when you hated her just seconds before. I loved that all the boys underestimated her even though she is as fierce as any Mask at Blackcliff.
In addition, I didn’t mind the different point of views AT ALL. I am usually a person who gets very angry when I see a different chapter is about to start, starring a character I don’t enjoy – but with only Elias’ and Laia’s POV, I was never feeling any disappointment, I rather felt pleased to have a different POV; a mixture to say so.
I also really enjoyed the plot: what seemed like a simply story unfolded great into many different aspects – which I’m not going to spoil here – and I can’t wait to read the sequel which I have already ordered!
I hope you enjoyed this review and have a great day!