Author: Sara Alfageeh, Nadia Shammas
3 .5 stars
I received a free ARC copy from Harper360YA in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a Knight. It’s the highest military honor in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, and as a member of the subjugated Ornu people, Knighthood is her only path to full citizenship. Ravaged by famine and mounting tensions, Bayt-Sajji finds itself on the brink of war once again, so Aiza can finally enlist in the competitive Squire training program.
It’s not how she imagined it, though. Aiza must navigate new friendships, rivalries, and rigorous training under the unyielding General Hende, all while hiding her Ornu background. As the pressure mounts, Aiza realizes that the "greater good" that Bayt-Sajji’s military promises might not include her, and that the recruits might be in greater danger than she ever imagined.
Aiza will have to choose, once and for all: loyalty to her heart and heritage, or loyalty to the Empire
This was a really well constructed YA graphic novel. The art work is gorgeous with a beautiful colour palette (from the colour pages within the ARC). It is a lovely storyline of I enjoyed that we got to see glimpses of multiple perspectives through series of training montages. The primary main character is Aiza, who we follow on her quest to become a squire while hiding her heritage due to the prejudice of others. I felt she was a very strong and admirable MC and watching her grow in understanding of the world and her place within it was fantastic. I especially liked the formation and developments in her friend group and the mentor relationship she developed too.
My only hesitation is it feels like it was missing a lot in the build up to the ending. its felt rushed and that as a reader we didn’t get to see a lot of the events that lead to the characters overall decisions. As there was no real indication of time passing I couldn’t gage how long the characters had taken to make there assessment of their situation and their decisions, and that made it all feel a little rushed when compared to the set up. The balance of the two halves of the story just felt off. I would have liked to see a bit more of the background, politics and the characters decision process.