An Ember in the Ashes. Sabaa Tahir. Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance. April 28, 2015. 446 pages. [Source: Bought]
“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.”
I’m so excited to review one of my favorite books of all time! This book was originally a stand alone novel, but because of its success, A SEQUEL HAS BEEN GREEN LIT! Stay with me so we can discuss its glory.
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 was immediately attracted to this book because the synopsis reminded me of the Legend series by Marie Lu. I LOVE that series! This book may not be as action-packed as the Legend series, but the feels are waaaaay stronger.
If there’s one thing that the marketing of this book got right, it’s the phrase, “A story that’s burning to be told.” THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I THOUGHT AFTER READING THIS BOOK. It’s the story of two people who want to be free.
We start off with our main girl Laia, who is a Scholar–the people who have been conquered. Her brother has been taken by the evil soldiers–the Masks. She will do anything to get her back, which includes becoming a slave.
Then we meet Elias, who is the creme de la creme of the soldiers. His chances of becoming the next Emperor are pretty high. The problem is that he does not want this life. It’s a life of pain, guilt, and blood on his hands. He wants to be free, just like Laia, and their paths are intertwined.
The world building of this book is terrific, although the world itself is brutal. In this world, ten year old kids are whipped publicly until they die, slaves are burned, raped, and branded, while the Masks are allowed to torture without being blamed. It’s a horrible world, and I praise Sabaa Tahir highly.
Another great aspect of the book are the side characters. There’s a great cast of characters. There’s one that I loved in particular—Helene. She is such a complex character. She is Elias’s best friend, and she is loyal to the Empire to the bone. That makes things difficult for Elias because he wants to escape and run away. I also really loved Izzi, who is Laia’s fellow slave. She provided Laia a much-needed friendship. You’ll also meet some other interesting characters such as Keenan and Cook.
Don’t get me started on the antagonists because the are HORRIBLE. THEY ARE EVIL I TELL YOU. EVIL!!!
Overall, this book is fantastic and I am so excited for the sequel. There are too many loose ends for it to be a standalone novel! I love this book so much and I can’t wait to read the next.
If you guys are looking for a beautiful story, then this book is for you. I’d give this book all of the stars in the universe if I could.
I rate this book
“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.”