Published by Razorbill on February 9th 2016
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free. Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear. It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.From the Hardcover edition.
In honor of the release of the second book in the Ember in the Ashes series, A Torch Against the Night, I had to throw the spotlight on Elias Veturius from An Ember in the Ashes – he’s too delicious a literary crush to pass up!
Name: Elias Veturius
What does he look like?
He is tall – 6’4” – with black hair and grey eyes, high cheekbones and skin that is golden brown. He cuts an imposing figure certainly. He is a living breathing dichotomy; he’s been trained as a lethal weapon for most of his formative years but has a deep distaste for violence. This passivism leads to him being on the receiving end of brutal whipping. Elias puts on a savage face to maintain his role, but underneath that is not who he really is and he’s constantly looking for a way out.
What does he do?
He has trained for 14 years to be a savage solider and essentially a trained assassin for his government. He is at the end of his training and will be tested in ways he least expects to find out what his next role is to be.
Whom does he love?
This is tricky question. There is Helene who has trained with Elias for the past 14 years for whom he bears a lot of feelings – not all of them purely platonic. Then there is Laia – the female protagonist of the story who is a servant at the military camp where Elias is training. She is so different from Helene and he finds himself drawn to her. Throughout the book we read along as Elias grapples with his feelings as they sway from Helene to Laia time and again.
I adore that Elias is so much more than his exterior would betray. It is clear from the opening page of his dialogue that he does not fit the mold that his society has put him in. The fact that he is so torn – on everything from his position, to his parentage, to who he loves and where he belongs – tugs at my heart strings. He is the type of man who doesn’t subscribe to the notion that his life path is fixed by either birth or dictates. Elias is a boy growing into a man and the fact that he is at times so certain of himself and at others so wonderfully awkward makes him come alive. Not many people put themselves on the right path from day one and Elias is no exception. He makes mistakes, he distances those he loves and he puts the relationships he holds most dear in harm’s way to help others. In so many ways he is the consummate gentleman fighting to find his way out of the life path that was chosen for him.
I cannot wait to see what happens next in A Torch Against the Night!
“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”
“Laia and Helene: They’re so different. I like that Laia says things I don’t expect, that she speaks almost formally, as if she’s telling a story. I like that she defied my mother to go to the Moon Festival, whereas Helene always obeys the Commandant. Laia is the wild dance of a Tribal campfire, while Helene is the cold blue of an alchemist’s flame.
But why am I even comparing them? I’ve know Laia a few days and Helene all my life. Helene’s no passing attraction. She’s family. More than that. She’s part of me.”
“The girl (Laia) meets my eyes, and there is that feeling again, low and hot and consuming. Don’t be weak. Fight. Escape. A gust of wind whips a strand free from her bun and across her cheekbone. Defiance flashes across her face as she holds my gaze, and for a second, I see my own desire for freedom mirrored, intensified in her eyes. It’s something I’ve never detected in the eyes of a fellow student, let alone a Scholar slave. For one strange moment, I feel less alone.”