A young pilot risks everything to save his best friend–the man he trusts most and might even love–only to learn that he’s secretly the heir to a brutal galactic empire.
Ettian Nassun’s life was shattered when the merciless Umber Empire invaded. He’s spent seven years putting himself back together under its rule, joining an Umber military academy and becoming the best pilot in his class. Even better, he’s met Gal Veres–his exasperating and infuriatingly enticing roommate who’s made the Academy feel like a new home.
But when dozens of classmates spring an assassination plot on Gal, a devastating secret comes to light: Gal is the heir to the Umber Empire. Ettian barely manages to save his best friend and flee the compromised Academy unscathed, rattled both that Gal stands to inherit the empire that broke him and that there are still people willing to fight back against Umber rule. As they piece together a way to deliver Gal safely to his throne, Ettian finds himself torn in half by an impossible choice. Does he save the man who’s won his heart and trust that Gal’s goodness could transform the empire? Or does he throw his lot in with the brewing rebellion and fight to take back what’s rightfully theirs?
I got this ARC from the Book Wizard at New York Comic Con 2019.
They story starts off with a lot of action and interesting characters. The middle lags a bit and it wasn’t until the last hundred pages or so that it became a page turner. Also, with the coronavirus quarantine happening I had a whole day to finish the last 100 pages.
The story is packed with tropes (star-crossed lovers, fake dating, there’s only one bed,etc.) but even so, it was all fun. I really liked that it wasn’t instant-love between Ettian and Gal. They have known each other from 2.5 years, so we already in the middle of them pinning for one another.
The rest of the review has some spoilers. So beware.
Although I became frustrated with all characters at some points, I also sympathized with them. I liked the way Ettian struggled with his loyalties. I found my loyalties were with the Archon rebels, but I also want Ettian with Gal. I want him to have it all! I sort of guessed it a couple of chapters before the end, but I really liked the twist that Ettian was the heir to his fallen empire. So they are star-crossed heirs! Makes me think of the line in “Gold Dust Woman”, “Rulers make bad lovers. Better put your kingdom up for sale.”
I saw on Goodreads that people were calling this Finn/Poe fan fiction. I mean, I see where they could be getting that idea, but I find it to be a stretch. I did enjoy all the Star Wars references, especially Naberrie. The ARC introduction says this books for fans of Red Rising and Illuminae. I haven’t read Illuminae yet, but I totally see the Red Rising similarities.
With the reveal at the end I am certainly interested to see where the story goes and how the characters grow and develop.
4 out of 5 Beamers.
Favorite quotes: (I don’t care that this is an ARC.)
Page 99: “An empress can hold the empire in her hands for only a few decades. A dynasty can hold it forever.”
Page 146: “I don’t know what forces conspired to bring me here to this moment, perched between the two of them, but I think the god of this system must be playing a cruel joke on me.”
Page 229: “We’re slipping into alignment, clicking into place, solid and sure. Resisting this have been destroying us. Allowing it is putting us back together again. We should have been honest – we should have been doing this from the start.”