Published by Penguin on April 28th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Sabaa Tahir‘s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and pulse-pounding read. Set in a rich, high-fantasy world with echoes of ancient Rome, it tells the story of a slave fighting for her family and a young soldier fighting for his freedom.
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.
I THINK THIS BOOK BECAME ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS IN 2015.
Perfectly written, I completely devoured this thick book. And my, it was thick. Throughout this whole book, my whole mind was running so fast, trying to take in as much information as I could. I think this book scared me half to death, and it was freaking amazing.
This book damn near gave me a heart attack even before the first chapter, as we went on to see Laia’s brother being captured by the Martial Empire. And the Masks. THE MASKS ARE SCARY PEOPLE. Like, I am legit scared of them HEHE. Until they introduced Elias, that is. But let’s put that guy one side first.
I am definitely impressed by the world building, and I am rarely impressed by that. Probably because most of the times, I would get confused by the tons of facts. But not in this book. Sabaa Tahir did not put a whole CHUNK of information about the world in one paragraph. Instead, she spread them out and as the story goes on, I can slowly imagine the whole world in this book. Her writing was incredible, and the amount of quotes that I could take from this book, HEHE I might have finally bought a quote book thanks to An Ember in the Ashes.
This book taught me to always listen to my own opinions, because yeah, I have been putting off from reading this book as I heard from others that it wasn’t good. BUT HELL YEAH, I LOVE IT. So, you know what? I shall make my own opinions from this day forward HEHE.
Laia was quite weak at the start, and I was one of those people who, with Keenan (who is utterly cute and swoon-worthy), actually doubted that she could survive at the hands of the Commandment. But her character went through a whole lot of change in this book, from doubting her own strengths, to figuring out that she is stronger than she gives herself credit for.
Elias, on the other hand, was brave from the start. He was a Mask, and like I said, I am terrified of the Masks HAHA. But reading it from Elias’ perspectives made it seem like there’s more to Masks than just brutal assassins. Elias was defiant. He challenges everything he sees, but he’s smart. He knows to not draw attention to himself. And I actually admire him for defying, BECAUSE THE EMPIRE IS A SCARY PLACE HAHA.
This book, written from alternative point of views by Elias and Laia, actually made my heart skip a million beats. I could not sit still, because I was really really terrified of the ending. I am SO GLAD that this series is far from done, because I LOVE IT.
“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.”