An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Every once in a while you come across a great book that impacts you in every possible way. It leaves you tattered and completely destroyed to the bones because it was simply that great. This book made me feel all different kind of emotions -anger, frustration, joy and sadness. It was a mixture of everything and not even kidding, there were times when I needed to calm down so I had to put my kindle down and walk around the room until I was okay enough to resume reading. This is the kind of effect this book will have on you. It will make you feel emotions that you didn’t know existed within you and it will teleport you into a world that is so unlike our world (and you’ll be grateful that it’s so unlike our world). After I finished this book I couldn’t sleep at all because the story kept going through my mind and I couldn’t forget about the characters. My mind just kept playing it over and over and it was hard to get back to my normal life and that’s when you know you’ve found a rare book that has impacted you in every possible way.

You have Laia who is a slave and then you have Elias who is a solder. Neither of them are free. They live in a world where the Martial Empire rules and any defiance is met with death. It does not matter if you are a slave or a soldier who serves the Martial Empire; if you defy against the Empire then you will die. Sometimes a slow, torturous death or sometimes you are given mercy and you die quickly. 

Laia lives with her older brother and grandparents. Then one night, the Martials raid her home and her brother is arrested for treason. Without any choice, she makes the decision to make a deal with the rebels -in exchange for her brother to be rescued from the Empire, she is to be a spy within the Empire’s greatest military academy. Within the academy she meets Elias who is one of the school’s soldiers. However, Elias is battling his own wars: he wants to be free of the tyranny that he’s been trained to serve. As their lives intertwine, choices need to be made: choices that will either support or defy the Empire. 

This book explores freedom, loyalty, love, family and morals and its done in a way that really digs your heart. I told my friend this but this book is more complex than just romance and I think that’s so important. I think it’s important to know that it is not a “love story” (while there is nothing wrong with a love story). It really does capture the idea of freedom and morality and there is such a good balance between all the different concepts.

It is extremely fast-paced and told from two perspectives: Laia and Elias. Both perspectives are so intriguing and completely action paced. Even though it’s full of action, there is still so much room for solid character development. The growth and unravelling of each character is surprising. You see some of the characters growing into individuals who are discovering their own strengths and weakness. You see characters developing into individuals who can stand up for themselves, even if it causes pain. You see growth; and it’s good.

This book doesn’t skim over the gritty details -it’s gory and downright nasty. Be warned though, there’s torture, child abuse, rape and violence. It’s brutal and the Commandant is evil. She shows no mercy and no kindness. While I absolutely detested her, the Commandant really did add a special element to the story. Her wicked personality enriched the story to another level.

This story incorporates prophecies, which really adds a magical feeling to the story as well. The prophecies in the story really raises conflicts with the idea of destiny and fate. And you’ll see Elias dealing with these prophecies and it’s great to see him grow as a person as these prophecies are following him around.

This book was brilliant in every single way. I went into this book without knowing what it was about and I am so glad because it surprised me in the best way possible. It tackled every issue that I never knew I wanted until I finished this book. It explored different concepts and it was done intricately and so well. The aura of the world is dark and gruesome and it’s had me tossing around in bed because I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The way Laia and Elias’ lives intertwined was done in such a good way, it seemed so authentic.

Authentic and real.

Please, give this book a go.


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One thought on “An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir”

  1. Pingback: A Torch Against the Night (#2) by Sabaa Tahir | Speak Now

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