About the Book:
Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: February 9, 2016 (first published April 28, 2015)
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
Oh my goodness, now I know what all the fuss was about! Why didn’t I read this sooner?! What a magnificent debut novel! This one captivated me right from the start. I loved the ancient Rome inspired world and all the heart pounding action. This book was definitely well paced, gripping, and brutal.
I loved the dual point of view between Laia and Elias. Laia is a perfectly imperfect character. In the beginning she’s quite naive as she’s had a fairly sheltered upbringing, and then finds herself thrust into this ruthless world when her brother is arrested for treason and she has to risk everything to save him. She thinks of herself as weak and a coward in the beginning, and it’s just amazing watching her grow into this strong, loyal, and fierce character. Elias is a part of the Martial Empire and has spent 14 of his twenty years training to be a solider. Now he’s a Mask, and is a high ranking and deadly fighter. Secretly, he wants to be free from the tyranny of the Empire. I admired so much how Elias, despite everything he’s been through, remains a good soul. There are so many other great characters that come into play in this book as well. I also enjoyed the mythological characters we meet and where we learn about the efrit, the jinns and the ghuls. They are pretty darn scary!
If you love books about family, friendship, loss, and facing your fears, I definitely think you’ll love this book. The good thing about being late to the game on this series is that I was able to immediately start A Torch Against the Night. Huzzah!
About the Author:
Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.