Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes
Author:  Sabaa Tahir
Publisher:  Razorbill
Expected Publication Date:  April 28, 2015

From Goodreads:
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Vow your blood and body to the empire.

Keep your heart for yourself.

Wow.  Just wow.  This was an amazing debut and here's why:

1.  World-building.  Sabaa Tahir has created a fascinating and brutal world and when I say brutal, I mean brutal.  The Empire is evil (I know, it's the EMPIRE, so I shouldn't be shocked that it's evil), and it's horrible what happens to the soldiers at the academy, and the atrocities committed against the Scholars.  Reminded me of Red Rising and The Winner's Curse.  There's torture and death.  Prepare yourself.  

2.  Laia.  I liked that the main character is weak in the beginning and she stays weak physically, but slowly becomes brave.  That was a refreshing change.  She's tried to quietly live her life in this world where the Scholars were conquered by the Martials, but circumstances force her to join the rebels.  She's scared, she's in over her head, and she grows a tremendous amount in this book.  Loved her internal journey.

3.  Elias.  One of the strongest soldiers, but at the same time, he's good and moral and fed up with how horrible the Empire is.  He just wants to live his own life, but he becomes ensnared in the contest to choose the next emperor and he has to make impossible decisions.  It just hurts even thinking about what happens in this book.

4.  The relationship between Laia and Elias.  It's slow and subtle and not really a romance at this point.  I loved that it's not the typical fall in love, can't live without each other type of relationship, but there's a spark between them and I can't wait to see how it develops.  

5.  The relationship between Elias and Helene.  Elias and Helene have been friends since they were children.  They have each other's backs, but their relationship is tested in this novel.  What happens is HEARTBREAKING.

6.  Secondary characters.  Other than Helene (who is a complicated character), there are other slaves that live and work in the academy.  And then there are certain rebels we get to know.  Each and every character is vivid and real.  And the evil characters...I hate them so much.  For an author to evoke this much emotion from me...she's doing something right.

Spectacular, I highly recommend it.

Posted by:  Pam


  1. Ahh, so excited about this book so your review makes me super happy! I love the sound of the romance, slow build up are my fave kind of romances! The mc sounds great too, I love seeing a character develop. It's also awesome that secondary characters made an impress on you, too, as sometimes they kind of just feel like 2d cut outs if you know what I mean. xD

    Wonderful review!

  2. Sounds like I need to add this to my TBR asap!

  3. I am just so excited to start this!! And I am actually glad that it is a massive book because the more the merrier when it comes to a book I think I will love! Thank you again for lending me your copy!!

  4. Ahhh this sounds so good! I'm a little nervous about a love triangle though? I can't tell if there is/will be one or not. YOU NEED TO DM ME ON TWITTER, PLZ. :)

  5. Yay! This one sounds awesome--although a bit sad. I don't like your use of the word heartbreaking when it comes to the secondary characters. Eep! I don't know if I will read this one right away. I've been seriously trying to limit my series intake until all the books have come out. I don't know if I'll be able to hold off on this one, though. Great review!

  6. I love seeing how much you loved this! I definitely love books that have strong world building and are intense. I also love heroines that aren't the typical badass fighters. That's for sure intriguing. I don't mind slow burn romance spread through a series, but I'm still curious about the shape of this one. Are there other people involved? I know I'm being obnoxious about this! I'm just so careful about what I invest in.