I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Penguin on April 28th 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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I WILL TELL YOU THE SAME THING I TELL EVERY SLAVE. THE RESISTANCE HAS TRIED TO PENETRATE THIS SCHOOL COUNTLESS TIMES. I HAVE DISCOVERED IT EVERY TIME. IF YOU ARE WORKING WITH THE RESISTANCE, IF YOU CONTACT THEM, IF YOU THINK OF CONTACTING THEM, I WILL KNOW AND I WILL DESTROY YOU. 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.
I’m just gonna say it…An Ember in the Ashes is the newest superstar on the Young Adult fantasy stage. It should be given all the awards and everyone should go out and get their own copy to devour! I’m borderline obsessed with this book and am not quite sure how I’m supposed to wait for book two. I mean…a second book hasn’t even been annoucned yet. So be sure to get those pre-orders in and if someone could send me some coping mechanisms in the meantime that would be great, because I’m going to need all the help I can get! This book is EPIC!
Oh my….this book gave me a lot of feelings. As I read I had such a strong mix of emotions. Fear, confusion, sadness, hope, longing…it was all there. An Ember in the Ashes is the story of Laia and, at its core, her search for purpose in life. At the beginning of the book she’s lost virtually everything and is faced with the monumental task of crawling out of a horrible situation. In a desperate attempt to make things right, she finds herself thrust into an even darker and more miserable fate. To me, the mark of a great book and great author, is when I can completely relate to a character even though their situation is so far removed from anything I’ve ever experienced. I really felt for Laia and was rooting for her the entire book, even when I felt like she was trusting the wrong people or making the wrong decisions. There was a strong theme of loyalty and betrayal throughout this book, and it comes at you from both sides so fast that it makes for a breath-taking read.
There are a lot of characters in this book…A LOT! I usually have a hard time with so many characters in one book, but it worked for me this time because Tahir did such a fabulous job of fleshing out each character and giving them individual motivation. Speaking of motivation, everyone has their own agenda and most of them conflicted with each other. There’s so much drama and intrigue between every character, that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to find out how they would affect the other. We have the terrifying Commandant who brutally rules over Blackcliff Military Academy; Elias the dark and tortured soul trying to find meaning from his dark life; his classmate Helene is a conflicted woman with secrets of her own and Keenan…ohhh Keenan…you red-haired smoldering hunk of a man. Oh, and I can’t forget about the Augurs, those creepy magical creatures really creeped me out.
In a way this book reminded me a lot of Game of Thrones which, as it turns out, is a comparison that is being made quite often by many people. In An Ember in the Ashes, Tahir creates such a vast and complex world that to me translated as a fascinating mix of ancient Greece and middle eastern culture. There are so many layers to this world, from colorful and vibrant marketplaces, to an endless desert to a dark and terrifying fortress filled with danger. Just as in Game of Thrones, this world seems so vast and endless, and I was totally swept away by the mythology of it all.
What I loved most about An Ember in the Ashes, were the quiet moments that Tahir weaved throughout the action and drama. These moments were some of the most touching and emotional throughout the book. They help to create fully developed story that touches on very real feelings of mortality and the search for meaning that we all deal with in our own daily lives.
An Ember in the Ashes is a non-stop emotional ride with vivid imagery and masterful world-building. A stunning debut novel that will leave you breathless.