An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

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Source

Published: April 28th 2015 by Razorbill

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction

Pages: Hardcover, 446 pages

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads

Possible movie adaption in the works!

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.

My Review:

If you’re anything like me and want to look into the entire series to see if you would like it, please, please, please, don’t read the summary for  A Torch Against the Night. It really does have the spoiler of An Ember in the Ashes.

My first thought: It has maps, oh I always love books with maps. This is going to be good.

I wasn’t wrong. I was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole book (in the good way) waiting for the moment that these two would actually talk. The moment was a little farther in than I expected but hey, it really worked out and I wasn’t bored at all even though I kept waiting and anticipating.

I feel like I keep repeating myself over and over saying I wish books had more of the in between bits. With this book, I didn’t feel that way at all. It’s not that there is a lot of the insignificant useless information, it was just the passage of time was presented in a better way. I didn’t feel like I had missed some vital information.

With this book we get two different perspectives, two different stories, and two completely different situations. The author does a really good job at distinguishing the character’s voices. And the development of characters that weren’t even our two main ones, just, wow. Each character changes in some way in this book. Of course the biggest changes are made by Laia and Elias, and there is some serious behavioral and attitude changes and it shows amazing development.

This book has a realistic view on what life can actually be like sometimes. Elias finds himself reacting and having feelings about people despite what he knows shouldn’t happen, and what he never wants to happen. He wars with himself over what he should do, and why he shouldn’t. Laia is a little naive, and people take advantage of that like they would in real life. She is in a single mind to rescue her brother and would do anything to get him back. She trusts the resistance to help her despite her instincts and the fact that her brother had hinted that they couldn’t be trusted.

I only have two complaints about this book. While one particular romance is a way for character development on both sides, another is completely out of the blue and confusing as to why exactly it had happened. These two characters hardly ever see each other anyway! There wasn’t much of a point. The second part was the ending. Yes it was good but I felt that at the end it was a bit rushed. I think I have this feeling because the book took the appropriate amount of time to explain the other details but not enough time spent on the end.

This isn’t really a complaint, more of just a question that doesn’t affect the actual storyline in any way. The book is split into three parts, named for the section it deals with. But, the first part was 121 pages, and the last was only 49. This book is 446 pages long leaving most of the book in the second part. If the first and last parts of the book were so short, why have them at all?

★★★★.7 (4.7) This book really was absolutely amazing. The only reason I didn’t give it a full five stars was because Laia, as naive as she was, was smart enough to figure out what was going on. I won’t say more so I don’t spoil it.

Trigger Warning! This book does contain sexual assault, rape, rape threats, and torture.

For those who are concerned about that sentence, it’s not graphic and mostly it is just mentioned but there are a few places in the book where anyone with a sensitivity to any of the above warnings might want to avoid. That being said I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone under the age of 14. If you are concerned about this, please feel free to ask me on the Contact Me page of Inky Books or in the comments, and I will be happy to give you more information on what exactly happens so you can determine if it’s a book you want to read.

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