Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Publisher : Razorbill – Penguin Random House
Genre : Young Adult | Fantasy
Page Count: 446
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. (From Goodreads)
Content warning: Violence, death, murder, rape, slavery.
How do people review books they adore? Because I, for one, don’t know where to start with this one. First of all, this is a case of a book I’ve had on my TBR for a very long time, haven’t picked up and regretted it deeply afterwards. Imagine how different my life would be if I had been flailing about this book for the past 2 years. Iconic, glorious, but also full of feels, pain and withdrawl so a very small part of me is grateful I waited so long to read it. It’s been a week since I finished it (when I’m writing the review) and I still gasp from time to time when I think about it, I still have feels and I need to know my babies will be okay.
I never expected the writing to be quite beautiful and gripping. It’s intricate and yet very simple, Sabaa Tahir has a way with words that makes it seem easy and effortless. An Ember in the Ashes is written in dual POV from Elias and Laia’s perspectives and as much as they are different they’re equally good and I got invested in the two of them so much that I forgot to take notes like I usually do (hence why I’m find this review so hard to write).
I will be honest, there is no easing into this book, it’s fast paced and thrilling from start to finish, it’ll keep you on your toes, fearing for your beloved characters and you’re going to love it (at least, I did). Admittedly, the book takes around a hundred pages to pick up the actual plot but even those early pages are far from boring, they’re actually action packed as well because they are what sets the plot into motion.
The events in this book are very brutal, so I wouldn’t advise reading it if you don’t do too well with the topics in my content warning. The author doesn’t shy away from graphic descriptions of fight and torture scenes, they’re amazingly well done and terrifying. Everything about the plot is raw, brilliant and very well thought out, nothing seems unnecessary or out of place, no event holds the place of a page filler and I really loved that.
When I first read the book description and saw that the world is Ancient Rome inspired mixed with elements from my culture. MY CULTURE *excited squeals*. And since it is ownvoices, I wasn’t much worried about the authenticity part as I was worried about how those elements would work in that setting. AND IT WORKED GREAT, the worldbuilding was so seemless and everything is weaved together in such a mezmerising way and without one single info dump. I was sucked in from the start and fascinated by all the details that were added progressively to flesh it out and make it all real, and every added element was a welcome addition that never felt out of place.
I loved how the jinns, ghuls and wraiths were portrayed, the author described their powers versus describing their physical form which was awesome because we rarely (if ever) know what any of them look like, and there are gazillion different forms people claim to have seen them take, so bonus points for that. And the fact that they were sneaky, powerful and hella scary takes the gold as well because THEY ARE TERRIFYING. You don’t wanna mess with them.
Now to talking about my babies. And the other characters, the inconveniences.
Laia is my queen, not gonna lie, I haven’t loved a female character so fiercely since Lila (Shades od Magic), Inej and Nina (Six of Crows). She starts off thinking that she is a coward and a weakling because she abandoned her brother to save her skin (not a spoiler), which he told her to do. But staying would’ve meant her death too, so that wouldn’t be much help, would it? Anyway. As the book goes on, she grows stronger and more confident in herself and her abilities to save herself and her brother, and thus becomes more resourceful. I also loved how caring and fierce she was. In the smallest and most amazing ways.
Elias is the softest child in the whole wide universe. Okay, he’s not really a child, he’s 20, my age. But, that contrasts with the cold scary heartless brute image he has to convey as a mask soldier and that’s how he’s always perceived (As he’s first meeting with Laia didn’t fail to remind me). But -not so- deep inside he’s such a passionate and gentle soul. He cares about people, wants to change things because he hates them as they are and I just *sigh* I want to hug him and never let go.
Helene is a despicable woman I hated with every part of me. She’s the image of the white feminist girl who should get from her moral high horse because her morals are actual and utter shit. She treats the slaves like dirt and thinks her life is Worth more than theirs. I just wanted someone to shut her up. I learnt that she actually gets her own POV in book 2 and that, I am very mad about. Keenan is cute and all but the fact that he was after Laia was an inconvenience because I obviously ship her with someone else. That being said, I like how he was ready to help her achieve her goals without the whole unnecessary toxic masculinity trope.
There’s no actual romance in this book (but I know there will be in the future) well, actually, this is a bit of a lie because there are few things going on but nothing major and nothing I care about. I am glad it’s not there though, because it gave more space to the story to develop properly and for the characters to actually meet and know each other so I’m super excited to see how things unfold.
Which is why I need A Torch Against the Night. So so so so so bad. And I actually have it. But I’m fighting every part of me telling me to read it right now because Ember 3 is very far away and I’m nor willing to deal with the torture. I’ll be reading it soon though, I can’t resist very long.
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AN EMBER IN THE ASHES 🗡 – Sabaa Tahir 🌟 Rep: Ownvoices Brown MCs. 🌟 CW: Rape, violence, torture, murder, death. • Let's welcome my newest obsession to the family. I finished this a few days ago and if you follow me on Twitter, you know that it has taken over my life. I still can't stop thinking about it. Ancient Rome inspired setting mixed with Jinns, ghouls etc… I AM IN LOVE. ~F
That’s it until next time.
Did you read An Ember in the Ashes? If so, what did you think?
Who’s your favorite character?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.