An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Release Date: April 28, 2015 
(PB: February 9, 2016)
Publisher: Razorbill
Series: An Ember in the Ashes, Book 1
Rated: YA 14+
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository
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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.

Holy shizzlesticks. I'm literally grasping for words here, because how do you explain reading such an awesome book?!? An Ember in the Ashes BLEW. ME. AWAY. I loved it so much. It's been a while since I've read an epic fantasy of sorts, something like Shadow and Bone, whee the story just sucks you into this brilliantly constructed world and enthralling narrative. I inhaled this one. When I wasn't reading it, I dreamed of it. I can't believe it's taken me this long to get to such a wonderful book–I've got so many regrets for not getting my hands on a copy of this one sooner.

The story is told through the alternating perspectives of Laia and Elias. I loved both of these characters so much. Laia...damn, that girl is STRONG. I mean, if everyone I had was taken away and killed, I would be a shrivelling mess, unable to do anything. But nope, not her. I liked the conviction she possessed.

You won't stop until you do. I lift the gate and stare into the black hole below. I have to go down there. I have to find the Resistance. Because if I don't, my brother doesn't stand a chance. If I don't find the fighters and get them to help, I'll never see Darin again.
–p. 23, paperback

And she's not the only super strong female character. There's the badass Helene, who I so desperately want to learn more about, because boy–she's a complicated character. There's also Izzi and Sana, and I'm hoping that the both of them make more of an appearance in the sequel.

Elias–other than being particularly swoon-worthy–was also really interesting. Raised to be a Mask, a soldier for the Empire, he hates his life and wants to escape it. Difficult, considering his grandfather is an important figure and his mother is the Commandant (and absolutely terrifying). I loved seeing the inner conflict play out, especially as the story progresses on, and he finds himself part of a larger scheme: the Trials.

'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.'
–p. 65, paperback

There is a love triangle in this book (or rather two-ish). I normally don't mind love triangles, especially if they're done well, and this one was no exception. I love a complicated romance but once it gets stupid or weird then I'm out. But this one seem to work, and I'm excited to see how it goes. Obviously I have my choices down, buttttttt...things could definitely change. I have a fickle mind people, and I love the romance.

As I mentioned previously, the world-building is SPECTACULAR. I could actually imagine this Roman Empire-esque world, filled with magic and combat, scholars and militants. What I also liked, though, was that the characters were also clearly diverse. There's also some paranormal undertones, which I'm sure will be explained more in the second book. I'm so glad that the series has now been expanded to four books, because I desperately need MORE.

Absolutely breathtaking, An Ember in the Ashes is definitely one of my favourite reads this year. Heart-pounding, bewitching, and beyond magical, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, and I now wish that I could read it all over again. Sabaa Tahir's debut is a powerful portrayal of the fight for freedom in a world of oppression and rigid command, and I seriously cannot recommend this one enough. A Torch Against the Night–I'm ready for you.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Ingrid at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

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  1. Ohhh Wow..... I still haven't read the book yet. I will so be doing that as soon as i can. The narrative sounds so amazing and your enthusiasm about it shines through.

    Great review :)
    Aparajita @Le' Grande Codex

  2. I'm glad you loved this! I recently read this one and A Torch Against The Night.... I loved them both! Also, your review is gorgeous, you certainly do the book justice!

    Emily @ Reader Rising

  3. I'm the black sheep when it comes to this book. I was annoyed for the most part. I did wonder whether or not it caught me at a bad time, though.


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