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


An Ember in the Ashes
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Published June 4th 2015 by Harper Voyager

Goodreads Synopsis
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.
What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?
For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.
For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.
When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.
But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.

I had this book on my tbr for ages, and after loads of people telling me I needed to read the book, I finally gave in. 

Laia's family and people are enslaved by the Martials, and live in horrible conditions. When her brother is arrested for treason, for working with the Resistance to undermine the Empire, Laia finds herself becoming a spy. Placed inside the Blackcliff academy, she has to find a way to protect herself, and also gather vital information to save her brother.

Elias is different. Born into a leading Martial family, he is one of the best students at Blackcliff. However, all he wants is to escape, and has absolutely no goal to become a Mask. The only way to become free is to take part in the Trials, but even he may not be good enough to succeed and win.

This book reminded me so much of Ancient Rome, with the Blackcliff Academy being just like a mix of gladiators, and legionaries. From the get go, it was brutal, and every page has another key point happening on the page. The action just ramps up, more and more, and by the end of each part, you feel like you've actually gone through the same as them - the story just gets into your soul.

The book is written in dual POV, and I found myself enjoying both as much as the other. As Laia and Elias are from completely different backgrounds, they shouldn't really have anything yo do with each other, but whenever they meet, the chemistry flies off the page. I loved how Laia grew into her role as a spy, and strengthened herself against the Martials in order to protect herself. She was at risk in pretty much every single scene in the book, and she managed to overcome her original weaknesses to become a strong willed fighter.

The problem I have, is that I'm writing this review over a year after I read the book, and, honestly, I've forgotten the vast majority of what happened. I can remember I liked Laia and Elias intrigued me, as did Helene. I remember the trial was something to do with the new Emperor, and that Elias' mask hadn't melded with his face yet, because he kept taking it off. Other than that, I'm a bit blank on the rest of the plot. I know so many people adore and rave about this series, but even though I enjoyed it when I read it, it didn't become a favourite of mine, at all. I mean, it took me two weeks to finish it, when I would've normally flown through it otherwise.

I might try and re-read it in the future, and give the other books ago, but I'm not too sure if I'm ready for how brutal the book was, and the series has probably become. Let me know if you think otherwise.

Dates Read:
July 24-August 9, 2016


4 Stars

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  1. I haven't read this book yet but the series is on my to-read shelf. A lot of people have enjoyed it so I think I probably will too. I'm sure I will get to it soon enough. Glad you enjoyed it! Wish I could help you out on the second book, but I'm not quite there!
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
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