Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Tahir Sabaa

book review

ember in the ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes Book 1
446 pages


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.

My Review:


Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.

An Ember in the Ashes was such an amazing read. It really surprised me because I didn’t know anything about this book but it had high ratings. Right from the beginning, the book sucked me in with its plot and its world. I didn’t even know that it was a fantasy book. Tahir’s writing was just fantastic. It was easy to get into and it kept me glued! I couldn’t put the book down. What I really liked about the book was how brutally honest it was. A lot of YA books either sugar coat or glaze over the difficult things happening in the book. Ember definitely does not shy away from it. It made me uncomfortable at first because I wasn’t used to reading about whippings, beating, burning, killing, raping, and so on. However, I felt that it helped to convey the darkness of the Empire.

There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.

Along with that, I feel like Tahir’s writing excelled with the world building. When it comes to fantasy novels and other worlds, the author needs to be well versed in world building and I thought that it was apparent in this book! I can’t wait to know more about the world in the second book. I felt like we only got a glimpse of it in Ember. I feel that going with dual point of view was perfect in this book. It gave us the ability to see how Laia was a slave to the Commandant and how Elias was a slave to the Empire. It gave us the ability to see what was going on without having it written in the third person point of view. It also helped me like Elias more. Without his point of view, we might have been less inclined to like him.

Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be. Too much fear and you’re paralyzed. Too little fear and you’re arrogant

I also really enjoyed the other characters .. I mean within reason. Laia was a great main character. You can see her journey and how she became such a strong person. To be honest, I wasn’t too fond of her when I first met her because she wasn’t that readily strong character but the damsel in distress. But she quickly learned and I like that she grew into her own strengths. I love Elias. I love that he questioned the Empire and the academy that he was forced in. I love that the mask didn’t meld into his face and that he had a heart. I thought Helen was the cool best friend at first but then she really annoyed me as the book went on. I still don’t know how I feel about her at the end but she was interesting. The book was filled with great, complex, and hate-able villains. I honestly really despise the Commandant and Marcus. They were so cold and brutal.

When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible, to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.

Overall, the book was a fantastic read and I can’t wait for the second book. I’m not exactly sure if this will be a duology or a trilogy. I’ve found conflicting things. Nevertheless, I will read the books! The plot was so captivating and the plot twists were so so good! It had a great ending! It wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger but still gives you that feeling of one.



About Anjie @ Love thy Shelf

Hello there -- call me Anjie! I made this book blog where I can put down all my bookish ramblings and talk to those who have the same interests!
This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Tahir Sabaa

  1. Alright, your rave review convinced me. I must read this book!

    Liked by 1 person

What's on Your Mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s