An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Publication Year: April 28th 2015
Goodreads Rating: 4.31/5
My Rating: 4/5
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.
You know when you read a book and it just ends up being so lackluster because the author just didn’t do the storyline any justice at all? This book isn’t like that. In fact, the amount of detail and hard work that went into this novel is 100% obvious. Tahir went above and beyond what a lot of authors do nowadays and I wouldn’t be surprised if this became adapted into a movie. An Ember in the Ashes was an action-packed fantasy novel with very few dull moments.
That’s why I’m a little confused because I liked the novel but I didn’t love it.. and I’m not really sure why. I actually tried to avoid peoples reviews so I wouldn’t go into reading this novel completely hyped and full of expectations. The only thing I went in “knowing” was that people were raving and it had a nice cover. So there wasn’t an external influence totally destroying my perspective, but… this novel just didn’t reach the “holy balls this is amazing” part of my brain.
This novel focuses on two main characters: Laia and Elias. Laia is determined to make up for her lack of bravery when her brother needed it most, and Elias is trapped in a commitment he desperately wants to escape from. Both the main characters were dealing with their own demons and fighting their own battles, and slowly but surely came together for the bigger picture by the end of the novel. In fact, the dual POV feature reminded me a lot of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy (which I really enjoyed!). Unfortunately, what Tahir failed to do with her exquisite POV writing was give me enough information to care. The MC’s had purpose and intent but nothing really had me rooting for them, and that’s a really big let down.
Tahir has an excellent writing style for a fantasy author. Each scene in this novel does play an integral role in the future of storyline, and I really don’t think fluff is anywhere in this novel (AWESOME). When I had finished reading this book, An Ember in the Ashes was a standalone novel, but it looks like it’s now a trilogy. You can pick up A Torch Against the Night on August 30th 2016.
Overall thought: MEH