Title: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
By: Sabaa Tahir
Published: April 28th 2015
You can buy it HERE: Book Depository
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.
“You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes.”
I’m a bit in shock, because I honestly didn’t expect it to like it that much, but I’m happy to have decided to read it, it was all I needed and more!, I’m still holding my breath, just WOW, what an AMAZING book.
I didn’t expect to love this book so much but here I am all in love with it. I had my doubts because the book is quite popular and I always have thoughts contrary to other people, but with this one I think the hype is real, and now I understand why so many of you have recommended it to me.The characters and the world building are INCREDIBLE, I’m very impressed
The story follows Laia and Elias, jumping between both points of view. Laia has lived with her grandparents and her older brother since she was little, in the impoverished streets of the Empire, where no one dares to challenge them because they know what happens to those who dare to do so. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason she will have to make difficult decisions that will lead her to join the resistance and spy for them, in exchange for them rescuing her brother. And that’s how she ends up as a slave inside the Empire’s greatest military academy. There she meets Elias, who’s the best soldier in that school, but secretly he wants as much as Laia to be free. Elias and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined and their decisions change the destiny of the Empire itself
“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.”
Something I love about this book, is the fact that it’s based on ancient Rome, I think that’s great and super interesting. See the way in which the writer has handled this world and how she has built it to give it a unique and personal touch, it was incredible. I also feel that the way it’s described makes you feel almost inside the story while you read it, and that was one of the strengths of this book, the atmosphere that’s created is very good. Obviously I could see the influence of the author in ancient Rome when creating this world
The plot itself is compelling, although it is a widely used idea, that there’s an evil power in charge and another, which is resistance, you know, but I don’t think it was a cliche. I feel that the author has used these elements in a way that has surprised me. I’m also a big fan of the fact that our main character, Laia, fight very hard and tolerated many things for her brother and that kind of love and loyalty is admirable. The plot is full of surprises and has really hard and dark scenes, like an abuse attempt (I must mention it in case it’s something you don’t feel comfortable reading). But, on the other hand, it also has a lot of action and there are paranormal and magical moments that took me by surprise. In a story where obedience is everything, it’s very easy to feel tense along with the characters and live all that in a very intense way
I loved the characters, Laia is such a strong and admirable girl, I’m honestly proud of her for what she has achieved after experiencing such hard things. I really like how the author has made of Laia a very simple girl when the book begins, with this I mean that it could be in fact any of us, you know?, and for the end I can say that it has grown a lot and has turned almost into a warrior. It has also been even more difficult for her because this is a very “male chauvinist” world, so I think it’s a character that becomes strong due to suffering, and I respect that. I can’t wait to see how it will continue from now on. And then we have Elias and I really liked him, he’s a great character, he has an incredible strength, and despite having had such a sacrificed life, fighting in that school every day to survive through violence, that hasn’t changed him and inside it’s obvious that he’s a very kind and warm person, always caring for his friends and feeling a lot of empathy towards others, even when he shouldn’t show it. I expect a lot from both characters in the next book, both individually and together. I don’t know what will happen, but, YES, I SHIP THEM
“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”
The ending was very intense, I LOVED IT, I feel that it’s a story that has a lot of potential and with that great and unexpected ending many possible doors has been opened for the next book, which I can’t wait to read, really.
I highly recommend this book, I’m sorry if my review isn’t very neat, for some reason it feels strange, I feel that my feelings once prevented me from expressing myself correctly lol. But honestly it’s an extraordinary book, you can’t miss it, especially if you like strong characters and a raw and real plot in a fantastic world based on one we know. That world building is simply so smart. You have to read it but be prepared for the intencity of this story, because there’s a lot of that