Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Series: An Ember in the Ashes, #1
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Category: High Fantasy

Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
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. 

My Review

Oh my gosh! I so adored this one. A very magical world to get lost in with characters that leapt off the pages. It was intense, filled with an ever rush of events, and action that had me on the edge of my seat. The book is definitely worth all the hype it’s been getting, in my opinion.  Tahir created a world to really get lost in.

I was a bit confused when I first started reading, only because of the world that I was suddenly thrust into was so immense. But that confusion didn’t last long and before I knew it, I was absorbed into this dangerous world.  The book definitely had its own essence of ancient Rome. I could really feel that while reading and I liked that. The detail was vivid; Tahir really allowed me to feel, to experience, the book and its environment.
“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.” 
For the characters, I enjoyed each and every one of them, even the bad guys.  Each held their own personalities well. Laia, by far, is a character I loved watching grow throughout the book. Her life isn’t easily, but with a string of wild and unfortunate events, she’s gets tested in ways she never had before. What I enjoyed about her was that throughout the book, she always thought and felt as if she isn’t strong or courageous enough.  But with her actions, her feelings, and her thoughts, you get to see that she is wrong. She isn’t strong physically, but mentally she is. She may have started off as a girl who would run, but in the end she became such a courageous individual. It was her progression, her fight for her brother, her willingness to do such dangerous things that made me respect Laia. 

Elias’s life is the complete opposite of Laia’s. He is a soldier, a fighter for the Empire. Raised to be the prefect tool for the Empire to control, but that isn’t what he wants. Elias definitely has a free soul, a soul longing for more than the walls that surround him and the silver mask that adorns his face.  I fall for Elias pretty quickly.  Discovering about his past also put into perspective as to why he never really fell into line like the rest of the Empire soldiers. I loved learning about his past, though it did break my heart. And like Laia, his growth throughout the book was very well constructed.

I also enjoyed the other characters in the book, both bad and good. They each played their roles so well. There were some I really enjoyed and some I really hope get what’s coming to them.  The growth in Elias and Laia, as I mentioned, was very well done. Each face very difficult challenges that formed them and tested them. I also enjoyed their progression together. The book isn't focused too heavily on romance, but I do hope that it does in the next book. Elias and Laia have a nice spark. The book also has magical elements within it. I loved the mythological aspects that Tahir wove into her story. That surprised me, but I enjoyed it.
“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.” 
However, the pacing is definitely not for everyone. It is a much slower paced read and takes quite a while for it to build up, place the characters in the situations that allows the plot to really move forward. But I enjoyed that, I love books that take time to build up, that allows the characters to slowly and gradually build and take their place in the book. I will be honest, the pacing did lag a bit too much for me sometimes, but just when I found it too slow, something would happen that would pull me right back in.

All in all, An Ember in the Ashes is a great high fantasy read. It was intense, captivating, and very enjoyable. The ending left me satisfied, but wanting more. I really can’t want to see what’s next for Laia and Elias. 


  1. I am not a slow-paced book by nature. Your review has me wanting to read this one though.

  2. This one sounds sooo good and I am so glad to hear you enjoyed it too. Definitely need to make time for this one. Awesome review!

  3. I'm glad this one lived up to its hype! I do plan on reading it. Perhaps sooner rather than later. :)

  4. I can tell how much you loved this one! I'm glad that it lived up to all of the hype. The setting a lot like Ancient Rome sounds fascinating, as do all of the characters! World building tends to slow down the plot, but now that the foundation has been set, I bet the series will pick up pace. Excellent Review!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape


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