An Ember in the Ashes (Book #1) by Sabaa Tahir.

by - November 17, 2020



I think all of us can agree that a good book evokes emotion. My most beloved books filled me with the standard emotions; joy, happiness, excitement, and adrenaline. But, no book has taken me on the emotional ride that An Ember in the Ashes created. It was packed with so many emotions and mind-blowing adrenaline that I found myself needing to take several "moments." From start to finish, Sabaa did not let up, and while I'm still recovering from the opening scene, I applaud her for creating something so incredibly special.

I knew deep down that I would always love this series. Maybe that's why it's taken me so many years to pick this book up. I wanted to keep it hidden in the back of my mind until I was finally prepared to open this world up and discover all its beauty. No one warned me that An Ember in the Ashes is not beautiful at all. 

Instead, I found myself reading about an unlikely pairing that has been placed in a harsh and unforgiving world. I don't think I was ever prepared for just how dark this book went. Granted, there are much darker books to read, but for some reason, I thought this series was tame, following the typical Young Adult route of soft fantasy. It ended up being so much more.

Although I applaud Sabaa for creating such a dark world and lush scenery, I do understand why some believed this series needed more detail. The world-building was the bare minimum, with the author opting to focus on the now more often than not. To distract us from this obvious glare, we're constantly placed in high-stakes situations that we completely lose ourselves in. This often meant that traditions and histories and cultures were not fleshed out enough.

However, this is all rudimentary when one considers the absolute fun this book delivered. Heart-pounding, "no she wouldn't," fun that gripped me from the first page. Our characters are brave and a little bit naive but I have not read about strong characters in a while and our protagonists all delivered. It took me a moment to bond with Laia but eventually, I grew to like the girl, despite her shitty taste in men.

With that being said, there is a love triangle (square?) to look out for. This was also the initial reason I avoided the story. While Sabaa did a great job at incorporating small love stories throughout, it never crowded the page or made me feel overwhelmed. I appreciated the little moments we got, especially between Laia and Elias. They added a human touch to a very inhumane world.

I thoroughly enjoyed this first installment and can already see this becoming a favorite series. It's incredibly fun and adrenalin-filled, with a soft story deep within its center. I can't wait to learn more about this world and its characters.

Rating: 4 stars.

Book Description:

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.

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