Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Genre: High Fantasy/YA/Adventure/Dystopia/Romance
Publication Date: April 28th, 2015
Edition: Kindle Edition, 453 pages
Synopsis:I WILL TELL YOU THE SAME THING I TELL EVERY SLAVE.
THE RESISTANCE HAS TRIED TO PENETRATE THIS SCHOOL COUNTLESS TIMES. I HAVE DISCOVERED IT EVERY TIME.
IF YOU ARE WORKING WITH THE RESISTANCE, IF YOU CONTACT THEM, IF YOU THINK OF CONTACTING THEM, I WILL KNOW
AND I WILL DESTROY YOU.
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, 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.
It took me a long time to get through this book. The main reason being I got pretty ill in the middle of September and it threw off my reading a little, then I just took what felt like forever getting back to reading at all once I was better. But once I re-picked up this book, I could hardly put it down.
This book was really intense. I didn't know what to expect half the time, I didn't know who could actually be trusted, and what anybody's motives were. Although I had my suspicions about where the story was going just biased off the synopsis, that two people were going to team up eventually.
Laia and Elias were two very well written and complex characters. I actually liked how all the characters were developed and even the douchey characters that I knew were going to be some kind of antagonist in the story. They were interesting and actually added something to the story rather than just being what this kind of character sometimes ends up being, just a small annoyance to the story as a whole.
I really liked that Laia wasn't a tough as nails character, but a really unique character that knew she wasn't that brave but still did what she could to save her brother. It made her interesting instead of one of those near emotionless characters that had no complexity to them at all.
Elias, he was equally interesting. Him being slightly different than the other soldiers because he never wanted to be one. That he had sympathy for the Scholars. His complexity is really interesting and he's never completely sure what the right thing to do is.
I really liked that this book wasn't exactly a romance. There are some subtle attractions between a couple characters, but it barely goes past that in this book. I think it will many any growing romance more believable that there was no insta-love. Though the attraction between two different characters that who I am talking about came across as a little bit insta love. They hardly had any interactions and half the ones they had were a little hostile.
One thing that, for me, made this book really stand out and something that I didn't really think about or notice until I started writing this review was, neither the Soldiers or the Scholars were depicted as being darker than the other. They were just people, and one faction just happened to be ruling over the other. It's subtle but for me, it really stands out because it means the rift between the two was never about one race ruling over the other.
I am really excited to read the sequel. This series is going to be one of my new favorites, I can already tell.