Title: An Ember In The Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Published: February 11th 2016
Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death.
When Laia’s grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels.
But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s greatest military academy. Should she fail it’s more than her brother’s freedom at risk . . . Laia’s very life is at stake.
There, she meets Elias, the academy’s finest soldier. But 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.
Trigger warning for sexual assault and violence.
“YOU ARE AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, ELIAS VETURIUS. YOU WILL SPARK AND BURN, RAVAGE AND DESTROY. YOU CANNOT CHANGE IT. YOU CANNOT STOP IT.”
Set in a world inspired by Ancient Rome, An Ember In The Ashes alternates between the perspectives of Laia and Elias – giving us a glimpse into the lives of both Scholars and Martials. I don’t know much about Ancient Rome but I got major Star Wars vibes whilst reading this! Laia? Empire? Resistance? Rebels? Or maybe I was still hyped from having just watched The Last Jedi since I read this back in December. It took me about three years to actually pick up the book in the first place and three months to actually write my review.
The plot itself is relatively fast-paced, which is definitely a good thing overall, but I did feel as if certain scenes progressed too quickly and there wasn’t a lot of dedication to world-building. The Trials, for example, seemed to be over as quickly as they began despite how difficult and life-threatening the situations were supposed to be. That being said, I did love the diverse cast of characters and what each of them brought to the story. There wasn’t anything striking about the romance aspect, especially since there’s a love triangle
that’s more of a square, but the friendship and loyalty between Elias and Helene was to die for.
I loved the internal conflict that both Laia and Elias possessed. Laia’s determination to see through her mission for the sake of her brother despite how scared she was. And Elias, torn between serving the Empire and following his heart towards freedom. Not to mention, I loved that the book mentioned his tribal name – Ilyaas – which is the Arabic equivalent of Elijah/Elias.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this. The ending left me with a lot of questions, but it may just be another three years until I actually read A Torch Against The Night.