AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

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. 


Title : An Ember in the Ashes
Author : Sabaa Tahir
Series : Ember Quartet (book one)
Format : hardback
Page Count : 446
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Razorbill
Release Date : April 28, 2015

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

While it might seen like I am hella late to this series.. I am but I’m also not. I read this book a hundred years ago, when life was simpler and less strange, but it’s a series I never continued; thankfully, unlike other series I’ve been trying to tackle this year, I didn’t keep buying these ones only to let them gather dust on my shelves. Because that might mean a few less books to unhaul post-pandemic season. Yes, that’s getting a bit ahead of ourselves, isn’t it.. (also I might love them and wish I had bought them; who can say).

Regardless, this was a reread for me, but the rest of the series will be new-to-me. Now that the series is over it’s safe to dive in because it’s binge time, baby. Because ya gurl’s memory can’t handle long drawn series that span years of release dates. We are getting old.

Case in point? I remembered almost nothing about this. For every new chapter it was like a whole new experience. I remembered maybe two aspects of this whole installment and they were the most basic concepts, nothing major, and considering all the directions this went, I’m surprised I didn’t remember more. I also didn’t remember it being so violent and brutal (not adult fantasy levels of brutal but still.. it’s close, and still worth mentioning). And the ending? Complete surprise. Suffice it to say it was like I hadn’t read this at all but only briefly glimpsed the synopsis.

And ultimately? I really enjoyed it. I feel like it stood the test of time and still holds up all these years later. Nostalgia is obviously not a factor as my memory didn’t play into this, elle oh elle. Also, of note, I haven’t picked anything up in over a week and this was basically a one-sitting read, so. It gets extra points for that.

Time to see what book two holds!

(Yes, I realize I spoke nothing of plot or concept or themes or.. anything, really, about this book. There are like three people in the world who have yet to at least read book one in this series so I’m even less inclined than usual to summarize the plot itself or bother with much detail. I’ll try and do better for the next books but no promises.)

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