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An Ember in the Ashes

RATING: ★★★★★
TITLE: An Ember in the Ashes, book 1
AUTHOR: Sabaa Tahir
RELEASE DATE: February 9, 2016
PUBLISHER: Razorbill Books
GENRE(S): young adult fantasy, romance


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.

All Laia wants to do is save her brother.

All Elias wants to do is get free from the life he lives.

This was such an amazing first book in this series. I cannot believe that I waited so long to read it. The world building was amazing, but the storytelling was phenomenal. Very rarely do you (well, I) get a book that pulls me under so quickly after starting it. This gripped me from the first chapter and never let go. Even after finishing it, I am trying to rearrange my schedule so that I can start A Torch Against the Night as soon as physically possible.

I felt so strongly for Laia. She watches terrible things happening to her family. Her brother is arrested for treason and taken away and she doesn’t even know the full reason of WHY. She grapples with her fear and shame of being cowardly in the face of the people taking her brother. But even through her initial self-declared cowardice, she rises up and fights against her fears. After going to the resistance, she does everything in her power, all at great risk to her own life, in order to save her brother.

Elias was my absolute favorite. He is the son of the absolute worst freaking woman ever. She is cold, cruel and vindictive, with nothing but hatred running through her veins. He is Blackcliff Academy’s best soldier, though he secretly hates it. All he wants is to be free from the Empire. But it is impossible.

I love how intertwined Laia and Elias find themselves. They have this pull towards each other that is so undeniable. But, she is a slave and he is a soldier on the fast track to becoming the next Emperor. They help each other so much through this. While everyone else at the school, Elias’s friends and other classmates included, look down on the slave girl, he risks his own life to help her when she is in trouble, causing a huge rift in the relationship he has with his best friend, Helene.

I knew going into this book that there were going to be secrets and lies and all of that super great stuff that goes along with these kinds of fantasy reads. I am eager to learn more about the resistance and who is truly loyal to it.


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