"This strong debut featuring two characters who battle to survive a brutal society is perfectly enhanced through its narration. After Laia's family is destroyed, she must pose as a slave in the city's most dangerous location. Fiona Hardingham's soft, cultured tones convey both Laia's overwhelming fear and sheer determination to overcome the horrible abuses she experiences. Alternately, Steve West calls forth the tension in Elias as he struggles to maintain his morality while unwillingly competing to become the next emperor. Secondary characters are well nuanced as Laia and Elias seek comfort and assistance in facing the physical and emotional trials laid before them. Listeners will find themselves drawn in as the narrators bring this society, suggestive of the Roman Empire, vividly to life. J.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine"