Thursday, May 14, 2015

Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publication: April 28th 2015 by Razorbill

Genre: High Fantasy ~ Young Adult
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depostory | Kobo
Rating: 5/5


AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and pulse-pounding read. Set in a rich, high-fantasy world with echoes of ancient Rome, it tells the story of a slave fighting for her family and a young soldier fighting for his freedom.

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.

I've wanted to read An Ember in the Ashes ever since I saw the cover and read the synopsis. I just knew I was going to love this book and I'm so glad that I was right. There's so much I loved about this book. How it was inspired by ancient Rome, how engrossed I was by it - I simply couldn't stop reading and how shocking it was at times. It was in one word: unputdownable.

I have to admit that I wasn't a fan of Laia, one of the main characters, right away. I actually thought she was a bit weak but reading more she started growing on me and she made a huge change from the girl she used to be. I just love it when you can see growth in a character through the book. Elias, the other main character, on the other hand I liked right away. I really enjoyed reading about him because he was so unwilling to serve the empire. Especially once Elias and Laia's lived touched. 

When Laia's brother gets arrested, Laia goes to help with the Resistance. In exchange for their help Laia must spy on the Commandant of Blackcliff Academy by posing as a slave. It's there that she meets Elias, one of the best students in the academy and also the Commandant's son while also in the running to become the new emperor. 

This world is a harsh one. It's a completely fascinating world with equally fascinating characters but damn harsh. The Commandant was so hateful and life at Blackcliff was so hard for Laia but the constant threat of beatings, rape and other punishment didn't stop her from doing what she needed to do to try and help her brother. That's why I started liking her - she had so much courage to do that. 

I loved this book so much that I even didn't mind the love triangles. These were not your usual annoying love triangles. They were far more complicated because in the end their relationships and romance wasn't what mattered the most to the characters. There were a bunch of other characters that also stood out to me, but my advice? Do not get attached too much to them. 

I also loved the writing. Sabaa Tahir really impressed me with her way with words. Some pieces of the story were really beautifully written. She made me crave more of the writing and the story altogether. And that ending, leaving us hanging like that. I do hope a sequel will come with all my heart. An Ember in the Ashes is now one of my top favorite books of the year!

       Favorite Quotes:

"This life is not always what we think it will be," Cain says. "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."

“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.”

“You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes.”

       About the Author:

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.


  1. I started this one a while back but then I didn't pick it up again when I fell in the biggest slump ever, but what I read was pretty brutal. Really excited to read it!

  2. I've been waiting for your review ever since I saw that you had it and I'm glad I did as it's a great review..... so good in fact that I've just gone and bought the book for myself! I wasn't convinced it was the book for me but you've convinced me!

  3. It's fine with me when I don't connect with the main character right away as long as s/he ends up growing and developing. Elias sounds fantastic, though! I adore "harsh" worlds as well. I'll have to admit that the love triangle is still scaring me a bit though. Awesome review, Stephanie!

    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

    1. The love triangle(s) aren't that big a part of the story. There's not even that much romance. I probably should've mentioned that but I didn't think of it at the time. But anyway it didn't bother me like it usually would.


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