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.
Rating: 5 Stars
Book Title: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
I’ve been wanting to start this book since I attended BookCon this year and heard about it from a few people, but somehow it kept slipping my mind! When I heard Sabaa Tahir was coming to a bookstore near me for a signing next month though, I rushed to pick up a copy and see if the series was as good as everyone said! Needless to say I LOVED this book and I can see this series being an overall favorite for me and I can’t wait to meet Tahir next month and get the next book in the series, A Torch Against the Night, signed by her!
o The Trials: It was very Hunger Games meets The Arcana Chronicles meets The Divergent Series. Or if you’re a Harry Potter fan and the rest of those references are lost on you, just think The Triwizard Tournament from book 4, but with expected casualties by the end of the competition. The Augurs know people will die; it’s just a matter of which of the 4 contestants will die first and which will have a chance of becoming the new Emperor/Empress.
o The myths/legends: I loved the inclusion of legendary creatures such as the jinn, ghuls (a new one for me), efrits, and wraiths, and I enjoyed how their appearance was gradual because few people believed in their existence. These creatures were ones that they grew up listening to stories about, not things that lived in their world with them. The further into the book you get though, the more they realize just how real these legends really are.
o Izzy: She was one of the bravest, most selfless minor characters I’ve encountered yet and for that I couldn’t help but adore her. From Laia’s first day of work, Izzi does whatever she can to help her even though she risks punishment at the Commandant’s hand. What’s more is that Izzi has been a slave working at the Blackcliff Military Academy since she was a child, so you would think she would be the most withdrawn person Laia is working with, but she’s not. The second Izzi finds out Laia’s real reasons for being there she instantly offers to help. For someone who has endured so much suffering Izzi is more than the timid servant girl everyone believes her to be.
o The honesty: There’s a few scenes, especially one in particular, where the characters are tested and their decisions aren’t necessarily what you think they’re going to be. I feel like we, as readers, always give our favorite characters the benefit of the doubt and expect them to do the right thing when reading books, but doing so doesn’t allow room for error. Humans make mistakes, and An Ember in the Ashes does a great job of showing this. There’s also the fact that many of the important characters in this book are brought up a certain way, whether that’s to be ruthless, obedient, or brave. Whatever role they are expected to fulfill is one that’s been drilled into their head for a long time. So fighting against that, even if it’s the right thing to do, comes with its hardships.