BOOM! Studios’ Archaia imprint is bringing readers of Sabaa Tahir‘s best-selling novel series An Ember In the Ashes back in time to explore the beloved characters’ pasts in a three-volume graphic novel prequel series debuting July 2020. Announced on Tuesday, A Thief Among the Trees will feature writing by Tahir and Nicole Andelfinger (Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance), as well as art by Sonia Liao (Kulipari: Heritage).

Elias, Helene and Tavi are Fivers — in training to become elite military recruits for the Martial Empire at Blackcliff Academy. When they’re sent on a dangerous mission to steal a heavily-guarded poison on Isle South, they soon find themselves up against surprising enemies — including other recruits! As the true horror of their assignment is revealed, these three will begin to confront the harrowing realities of Martial rule, their place in the system . . . and the choices they must make to survive.

A Thief Among the Trees is Tahir’s first graphic novel collaboration. In a statement, she said, “I’ve loved graphic novels and comics since I was a kid thieving The Sandman from my older brother. It’s an absolute joy to use this medium to explore the life-altering events that helped shape Ember characters like Elias and Helene. And working with Nicole Andelfinger, Sonia Liao and the team at BOOM! Studios to bring these characters to life has been an inspiring and joyful collaboration. I’m so excited for readers to discover this new piece of the Ember world.”

There are currently three books in the An Ember In the Ashes series, which are high fantasy novels exploring a Roman-inspired society in which defiance under the Martial Empire is met with death. Those who don’t vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk everything, including their loved ones’ lives. Laia, her grandparents, and her older brother scrape by in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets, keeping their heads down. Then Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, and in exchange for a promise to rescue him, she agrees to spy for rebel forces from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets the school’s finest soldier, Elias. But Elias isn’t what he seems to be on the surface — he yearns to be free of the tyranny he’s trained to enforce. Soon, the pair learn that their destinies are intertwined, and their choices will affect not just them and their loved ones, but the Empire itself.

“Sabaa has created something truly inspiring with her An Ember in the Ashes series,” Andelfinger said in a statement. “Relevant and thought-provoking, the story is one that continues to stick with me. It was an honor to work on A Thief Among the Trees and to help Sabaa bring this story not only to long time Ember lovers but also introduce this deep and poignant world to new readers as well.”

Liao added, “An Ember in the Ashes has such a rich world and history — truly the best part of any fantasy story! Elias’s, Helene’s and Tavi’s different worldviews give their interactions dimension as they strive for the same goal. The setting may be restricted to a single island, but from the characters and story you can tell there’s a greater world beyond.”

A Thief Among the Trees: An Ember In the Ashes is slated to hit shelves in July 2020. Check out Liao’s cover art below and stay tuned for more.

A Thief Among the Trees: An Ember In the Ashes OGN