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 think of how the Commandant’s eyes shine when she whips a student, hpw Grandfather boasts of his body count. They are my kin; their blood is my blood. What if their lusts for war and glory and power are mine too and I just don’t know it?
“You’ll never forget them, not even after years. But one day, you’ll go a whole minute without feeling the pain. Then an hour. A day. That’s all you can ask for really.”
First, thanks to all the people who voted on my twitter poll and told me to read An Ember In The Ashes. You’re all wonderful, horrible people and I will never forgive or stop enjoying you. Let’s get the trigger warnings out of the way.
- Child Abuse/Murder
- Human Trafficking
- Attempted Rape
- Slave/Master Relationship Trope
The characters in this story were very well developed and, for the most part, relatable. I cared what happened to them pretty early on, even if that meant I really wanted them to die. If you’ve read this book, you’ll understand. We have to remember that my wanting the author to kill off fictional characters and my killing people are two completely different things, but I digress. The character development was beautifully done. Also, it’s become apparent I have some unpopular opinions on the character front.
The world building is done in a moderately immersive way, but it leaves a few holes that have to be filled in my the reader’s imagination. I honestly prefer it that way because it makes it easier for me to put myself into the world but I know that’s not the case for everyone. The important pillars of world building are in place and my mind just had to fill in a few details.
The story flowed relatively well, but the changing of points of view occasionally threw the timing off a bit and made it a little more confusing than it would have otherwise been. At the same time, having two points of view gave a little more depth to the story so I’m kind of torn on whether or not I liked the dual points of view.
I did enjoy the story though, which is evidenced by my blowing off of my TBR to read the next book of the series, A Torch Against The Night. This is partially because this book was really good and partially because CLIFF-HANGER ENDING! [screams into the void]
Also, I want to add in here about the slave/master relationship trope I saw in this book, because it was brought to my attention that Sabaa Tahir actually addressed this specifically today on Tumblr. In An Ember In The Ashes we see a good bit of Elias lusting after Laia, which is explainable in a “slave owner finds slave physically attractive” way. I didn’t like that Laia returns that physical attraction AT ALL, especially considering that she was basically trafficked into the situation she’s in. I did, however, like that this was addressed through Laia continually chiding herself mentally for said attraction. I still don’t like the use of the trope, but I did like that Laia at least seems to mentally fight with herself over the relationship.
Overall, I rate An Ember In The Ashes 3 out of 5 bookworms.
Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of An Ember In The Ashes and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:
- Amazon US
- Amazon UK
- Books-A-Million (US)
- Barnes and Noble (US)
- Waterstones (UK)
- Book Depository
- your local bookstore or local library
For more information about Sabaa Tahir and her work, visit her website.