Title: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Genre: Fantasy YA
Synopsis: 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.
Guys, it has been a hot second since I have actually posted. School started and things got wayy hectic. Plus, as a teacher I get up at 4:30 am and teach until 3:30 with one break. Basically, I have been super tired and not in the mood to read. On top of that, I am coming down with a cold! Boo me.
Anyway, time to get to a new review. I finally finished “An Ember in the Ashes,” which I began my last week of summer vacation. To say this book is an amazing example of a YA Fantasy is selling it short. Let’s break it down.
What I liked: It’s a little hard to break down what EXACTLY I liked since I liked pretty much everything! Elias. He was by far my favorite character. I enjoyed Laia but there was something about Elias’ POV that really captured my attention. He was tortured but dignified. Elias is not a perfect character, which was why I liked him so much. Laia is also not perfect, but she’s not as stained as her counter-part. Elias’ is someone who has killed and not necessarily for the right reasons. His struggle to define himself outside of the confines of his societal role was incredibly interesting and captivating. It didn’t hurt that he comes off as super dreamy. I really felt a deep connection with all the characters; they are all flawed and disjointed but their motivations are distinctly human. In a world of magic and mayhem, Tahir created deeply flawed, yet relateable characters. It was truly a testament to her skill that there was not a single person I truly disliked. Speaking of skill, the world-building in this book is off the charts. Usually, Fantasy novels either have too much world-building and you get bogged down in all the details, or you don’t get enough and are constantly confused. “An Ember in the Ashes,” was a perfect mixture. You knew enough to become engaged in the story, yet the main focus remained on the story. I kept reading to learn more but I knew enough to stay interested.
What I didn’t like: The ending. Ugh, why!! Is it time for the next installment? My biggest gripe is not even the ending-thought that was pretty evil. I struggles with the love square. I’m not someone who complains about love triangles, but I am someone who hates when I don’t know who to root for. I like them all! This is hard.
Overall, this is a captivating YA fantasy that will keep you turning the pages. 5/5