25 March 2017

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Publication: April 28th, 2015 
# of Pages: 446
Source: Purchased Copy 

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.

This was probably one of the few books that I have read so far this year that has caused me a great amount of conflict. I thought at some point that I liked it, but then I found that I couldn't stand it at all. There were a few things that I enjoyed about this book, but a lot of things that I didn't. 

One of the aspects that I did enjoy was the concept of this broken world and the leaders who have utterly destroyed culture, the people, and generally anyone's way of living. It made me really think about what is going on in the world with various leaders who have spent a great amount of time limiting the resources of one or two groups because they do not fit into the mold of what may be typically expected. I also enjoyed the supernatural elements. While I thought that this novel was going to feel completely like a dystopian, I found that there were actually aspects of it that made it supernatural and more along the lines of fantasy. To be honest, it was those specific elements that actually continued to draw me in as a reader. 

There are several things about this book that drove me completely insane and actually made me dislike the book greatly. The first was the love "square." It's enough when a book has a love triangle, but a love square was more than my mind could actually handle. In addition to this, I found the world development to be lacking. It's a fantasy book; however, the world building was done so sparsely that I had a hard time even imagining what it was like in the world that these characters were living in. And since the world building wasn't there the plot fell through for me. There were times when I really enjoyed it and other times when I just thought "why am I still reading this book." To be honest, my opinion wraps down to the most simple of thoughts. I don't understanding the hype behind this book. I don't understand why people love it and I don't understand how it went from being marketed as a stand alone to now being a four part series. With that being said, I have been told that the second book is better so I will be giving it a try. 

If you're interested in reading this book, I won't completely discourage you from reading it, but I wouldn't highly recommend it either. 


  1. Great review! It's hard to be the black sheep sometimes when reading such a popular book. I haven't read this yet, but I'm planning on it. The books have been given such rave reviews, and I want to see what the hype is about. I like the idea that it is more fantasy than supernatural! It does seem a bit odd though that this started out as a standalone and became a four book series. Great review. :)

    1. Thanks love! Definitely let me know what you think when you get the chance to read it.