Author: Sabaa Tahir
Expected Publication Date: April 28, 2015
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