Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Date Started: September 13
Date Finished: September 14
Format: Hardcover from local library
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.
So in one of those weird twists of fate, I’ve heard about this book for months and have been wanting to read it for months, I finally found it on the new release shelf at the library and picked it up along with a few other reads. And because I’m a little OCD about how I read books, this one was going to be last in my stack, until Monday morning. Apparently, this book wasn’t on the new release shelf, it was on the ‘hits’ shelf, which meant that instead of three weeks, it was due back in two days. Meaning I had 48 hours to speed read through this thing – less because I didn’t bring it with me to work on Monday – and return it before I got charged a late fee. So Tuesday morning, I began my challenge, and it helped that An Ember in the Ashes was action packed and quick paced. By the time I left work, I only had 105 pages to go.
Anyway, in a lot of ways I liked this book. The characters were wonderfully created and jumped off the page. Laia, Elias, Izzie, Helene, and the Commandent especially. The plot of the book was intriguing and slightly confusing, but in a good way that sets up for clarification in future books. My
only complaint scratch that my only two complaints are the following: one, I didn’t love that both Elias and Laia were in a love triangle with Elias it was with Helene and Laia, with Laia it was with Elias and Kennan. Isn’t it possible to have a female/male best friendship not end up with one of the parties developing feelings for the other? Or having a female MC who doesn’t have a love triangle? Just once? And secondly, this book was almost a little bit too dark/everything you love will die ala George M. M. Martin. It’s nowhere near The Rose Society, but there were a few times where this book’s situations – the fact that one of the Trials to become Emperor involved Elias and Helene to face off against each other and someone had to die – were just mind blowing hard to read because you knew something bad was going to happen to characters that you were starting to love.
Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Other than the love triangle and the do or die situations these characters were getting themselves into, I rather enjoyed this read. The whole Empire/Scholar rebellion was quite interesting and I wish there was a little bit more info – that wasn’t one sided – on that. I’m curious to see what happens to Elias and Laia now that they’re off to save Laia’s brother from prison and that Elias is a wanted man by the Emperor. Good thing the next book is already out, now I just have to get my hands on it.
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