Review: An Ember in the Ashes


An Ember in the Ashes
By Sabaa Tahir

Source: Personal purchase, ebook,
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Dystopian, 

Goodreads Synopsis:

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:

From the moment I began this book, I knew I was going to absolutely adore it. Everything about the book was perfect - the writing was vivid and beautiful, and it was fast paced so I was never bored. There was lots of action which was really exciting, so I constantly wanted (needed!) to read on.

The characters were so well-developed and complex. I loved all the characters we were supposed to like, and I loathed all of the characters we weren’t. I cared about them all so much because of the way they were so cleverly written - I had sympathy and empathy for them, even though I’ve never been in a situation like it.

My favourite character was Helene. She was fierce and independent, yet was flawed in a way which made her so much more realistic. Although she was a side-character and sometimes got overlooked, I would much enjoy a book entirely centered around her because there was so much depth that we didn’t get to see.

The romance was done so well. It didn’t distract from the main plot, though did take up a significant amount of the book. This was the perfect balance for me - I was invested in it (though I really didn’t mind who Elias and Laia ended up with - everyone was great!), yet didn’t want it to be the main plot. The love triangle was done really well because there was no deliberating over who to choose, which can sometimes get boring.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Everything was perfect, so I’d recommend to fans of The Wrath and the Dawn, or The Winner’s Curse (though this is so much better in my opinion). It ended on a huge cliffhanger, so I’m extremely glad that it has been announced that the book is turning into a series! I know I’ll definitely be impatiently waiting for everything to do with it.


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  1. I am so happy to find a fellow Helene fan! She is so fierce and I love her capability for loyalty and love despite her terrible childhood - much devoided of any sort of nurturing.

    While I didn't enjoy the romance, I certainly loved the rest of the book :D Glad you had fun with it!

    1. Helene is by far the best character in this book! She has so much depth, and because of the way she had such a tough childhood she's so interesting now. Thank-you for the comment!


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