Amazon Blurb:

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?

Bonds of Brass will be released April 7th, 2020. Preorder now!

Quote:

“No apologies,” he says. But he sounds worried. Maybe he’s remembering that Rana was my homeworld. That I lived at the heart of the Archon Empire before his parents tore it out. That there are years in my history that are still too painful to touch, all because of his bloodline’s conquest.

Review:

Go preorder this. Don’t even bother with my review, just buy it. This is a story of conquest: conquered and conqueror. Both living under the same roof. Fighting for the same team.

And I lived for it.

Ettian Nassun’s life did not go as planned. He lost his family in the war and invasion that ended with his planet, and the entire Archon empire, being captured by the militaristic Umber Empire. After he lost everything, Ettian lived on the streets before joining the Umber military academy. There, he thrives, becoming the best pilot in his class and a new sense of purpose. His old life is gone. He’ll make the best of the life he does have.

Gal Veres is his roommate and best friend. And maybe more, if Ettian wants to risk their friendship. Gal is the kind of guy everyone likes, he can talk people into doing things they wouldn’t want to do on their own. His entire time at the academy has been spent trying to work against the Umber tactics and find a different way.

Oh, and he also happens to be the heir to Umber Empire.

And the secret comes out when their entire class turns against Gal during an exercise and tries to kill him. And Ettian jumps up to protect him, even when he finds out that Gal’s family is the reason he went through all the hell he has gone through. This decision wasn’t without internal debate. Ettian feels like he is betraying his Empire, the Empire he lost, while also feeling like protecting Gal is his way through to the future. Which is a big feature in Bonds of Brass: Ettian’s internal struggles between who he was and who he is trying to be.

But even when Gal is safe again, he isn’t. Locked away in the headmaster’s office, Gal is unable to escape and is about to be used as a tool to threaten his family with. Ettian breaks him out and they go on the run. Which is when the book, and their potential relationship, really starts going. Two teenagers, on the run, trying to figure out how to get the heir to an empire home without alerting those who wish him ill.

So they go to the empire next door, the Corinthian Empire, which the Umber empire hasn’t yet set its sights on. They figure the bad agents wouldn’t be looking for an heir in the territory of their neighbor and not-quite-ally-but-also-not-enemy. However, they’re in a stolen ship they have to unload, with no other resources. And the planet is harboring a rebellion from former Archon Empire.

Which proves perfect for Ettian and Gal’s plans.

Bonds of Brass was perfect. It was young adult, and it read young adult. These two characters don’t always make the best decisions. I loved Ettian’s internal struggle. And Ettian and Gal’s friendship together is great, too. Their dynamic was just ideal. I love how Ettian’s goal is basically just to be Gal’s bodyguard, friend, and helper as much as he can. Even though it isn’t a role that always feels natural, except when it does.

But the real kicker is that ending. Holy shit. That ending. Read this book. You know you want to.

I need book two so badly right now, y’all.

ARC received from Del Rey Books on Netgalley. This did not affect my review.