Annike: Hey guys, I’m here today with a book review on An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. I am so pleased to say that it definitely lived up to the hype for me and it is definitely my favourite of the year so here we go!
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 grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the empires 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 empires greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the schools finest soldier – and secretly, it’s 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.
So as a whole, the story focuses on the characters of Laia and Elias. Laia is a slave, helping the rebels in a military academy called Blackcliff as a spy. Elias on the other hand is one of Blackcliff’s finest soldiers who is just about to graduate the academy. Elias also has secrets of his own though as he wants to desert the Empire, hating what it stands for. However, the Empire is looking for a new Emperor and the best of the graduating class have to compete in trials, meaning Elias is forced to stay. The story follows both the cruel punishment that Laia undergoes as a slave under the Commandment and the struggle that Elias has to go through in the trials where he is facing his worst fears.
This book was an absolutely INCREDIBLE read. I was skeptical at first because it was so hyped up and it was a fantasy book – a genre I don’t usually go for. However, when I started reading, I got so engrossed that I couldn’t bear to put it down. It was a really big book, but I really didn’t want it to finish.
Laia was a really great character. She was forced to go to Blackcliff as a slave for the rebels and the way that she was treated was so powerful while being so cruel. Laia was both defiant and clever and I really loved that about her. She was so strong for the brother that she wanted to save and I loved how she found a friend in Izzi.
Elias, was another really amazing character. It was great to get to see him clash against his mother and his disgust for her, while also navigating his friendship with fellow soldier Helene and the soldiers he had grown up with. He was loyal but he also had his shortcomings and it was so fun to see him come to revelations about himself.
The book was super powerful and while it had some quite intense violence and themes in it, these were some of the things that really made it so great. The new world that Tahir created is so original and well developed that it was great to see it come to life with different groups and collections of people.
I would have loved to see Elias and Laia in scenes together interacting because their stories were quite separate but the book was so driven and exciting that there was never a dull moment. I wanted to read both perspectives so bad and I cannot wait to read the second book! I am rooting for Laia and Elias so much and I hope Keenan doesn’t spoil things even though as a character he wasn’t too bad 🙂
Thanks for reading, we’ll be back soon again this week for another review. Let me know if you have read this book or if it is on your TBR!