An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

aeitaPages: 364

Goodreads Rating: 4.26 / 5 stars

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy

Publication Date: April 28th 2015

Publisher: Razor Bill

Summary (Goodreads):

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:

Review also posted on Goodreads

I have a bad case of reading slump on Fantasy novels and this was my attempt to break it. An Ember in the Ashes is surprisingly good! Sabaa Tahir’s writing style is captivating, impressive and intricate. The story is told in dual perspectives, each chapter is engaging and I can’t help anticipating what happens next. It’s action packed and some scenes are gruesome (if you’re uncomfortable with violence, it’s a heads up). It’s quite barbaric but I love Ms. Tahir didn’t hold back the gore details, it made the book more intense and atmospheric

When the Martial Empire conquered the Scholar Empire, they’ve been oppressed and deprived on many things. Laia is a Scholar residing with her grandparents and her brother, Darin. One night changed when Martial soldiers killed her only family except Darin, who was captured for disloyalty. She escaped and seeks The Resistance to rescue Darin and as part of their deal, she’ll be a spy for them on Blackcliff Military Academy – where the Empire trained their ruthless soldiers- by being a slave to Commandant Keris Veturia.

Elias Veturius is in his final year in the Military Academy. He’s well known for being one of the best soldiers in his batch. However, he wants to be free from violence. Unlike the other soldiers, he has conscience and soul. However, the Augur prevented him to escape by telling his prophecy and encourage him to face his destiny to participate The Trials — a test to determine the next Emperor. These two characters crossed paths, both shared sentiments about the Empire. By fate, they have the power to change it and beat the odds. Will they be free from it? Will there be peace?

Elias and Laia exhibit great character developments. Both are strong and courageous to take risks. Especially Laia where she endured pain in the hands of the Commandant. I wish she’ll be more careful on who she trusts because sometimes these people are traitors. Helene Aquilla is one of the best secondary characters. She’s complex and willing to bend the rules for the sake of people she cared. She valued her friendship with Elias and remained loyal. It speaks greatly of her character. As much as I hate Keris Veturia, she is a remarkable villain. This woman is small but ruthless. She’s so vile and unmerciful. Unfortunately, she lost her humanity and she’s scary.

In the romance aspect, I don’t know how their respective love triangles will work out. Elias – Laia – Keenan and Laia – Elias – Helene. If you’re going to ask me, I am rooting for Elias and Laia. Keenan is so bland and I want Helene to be pair with someone else. Sorry Elias – Helene shippers! Overall, it’s a great start and with that ending? I’M DEFINITELY GOING TO READ THE SEQUEL. There is so much to offer in this series and this is just the beginning of their journey.

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