[Review] ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ by Sabaa Tahir

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Title – ‘An Ember in the Ashes’
Author – Sabaa Tahir
Published – February 9th 2016 by Razorbill  
Pages – 446
Format – Paperback



Book Summary –

‘UNDER THE MARTIAL EMPIRE, DEFIANCE IS MET WITH DEATH.

When Laia’s grandparents are brutually murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the Empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels.

But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s greatest military academy. Should she fail it’s more than her brother’s freedom at risk… Laia’s very life is at stake

There, she meets Elias, the academy’s finest solider. But Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realise that their destinies are intertwined – and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.’



Review –

*Warning – Contains spoilers*

This book was so wonderfully intense and just action packed from beginning to end. This was definitely not a boring book, it was yet another book which had a massive amount of hype surrounding it. And with it’s sequel coming out very soon I just had to get this first book read. I am very glad I got round to it.

We initially meet young Laia and her brother Darin under rather… difficult circumstances. It seems Laia suspects her brother of hiding things and she would be right. She mentions a sketchbook and that whats within is dangerous, it instantly makes the reader intrigued and I have got to say a fair few of scenarios played through my mind. From the moment ‘raid’ is mentioned we essentially go through a roller coaster of emotion, action and massive amounts of story development.

I like that we got to see both Laia and Elias’ point of view. How we get to see both of their stories develop… I particularly like that the two don’t meet straight away and that even when they do see each other for the first time it takes a while for them to converse. It’s not the stereotypical ‘love at first sight’ story line which is good… as that is a widely overused element of many books now days. I especially like when Laia finds out Elias is a member of the academy, her disgust with him and with herself for feeling so at ease with him.

I particularly like finding out about both of the main characters backgrounds, the reason why they both so hate their current situations. A lot of it has to do with their younger years, with Laia losing both her parents and a sister to the Empire and with Elias it’s being abandoned and unloved by his mother, the Commandant. Also the fact he was taken away from a home filled with stories and love to be thrown into the life or death ways of Blackcliff academy.

In terms of the personalities of the characters, I massively liked them, I also enjoyed their development throughout the story. Laia in particular grew massively throughout this book. She started of frightened and guilty for leaving her brother at the mercy of the masks… but grew into someone willing to fight for the ones she loved. She overcomes a massive amount, including being the personal punch bag of the Commandant. She is an incredibly strong character although… I have to admit she was a little naive when it came to the Resistance. I think many of us could see it coming that her brother simply wasn’t going to be rescued and that there was a much bigger plan in motion.

Elias was an incredible character, he hid his true desires and feelings so well, wearing his ‘mask’ perfectly until dear Laia came along. Until the Empire and their ways finally got to him and broke him, to the point where he nearly killed his own best friend. Something that almost broke him even more, to a point which was almost impossible to fix. Talking of Helene… she was an interesting character. Her love and feelings towards Elias were very clear from the get go, it was easy to see that things were going to get complicated between the two of them once Laia joined the party. Her loyalty towards him was complicated and complex… at one point I wasn’t sure whether she was going to be one of the ‘bad guys’ or ‘good guys’. It seems all her actions, her pushing Elias to win those evil trials was for a reason after all, one that becomes clear towards the end of then book.

I also want to give a special mention to another character, Izzi. She was such a wonderfully warm character. She had a certain innocence about her, a warm compassion to help anyone in need… even if it got her in trouble. The fact that she’d spent most of her life as a slave of Blackcliff was heart wrenching and that she’d lost one of her eyes through no fault of her own definitely tugged at the heart strings. I’m so glad Laia went back for Izzi and managed to get her away from the darkness she’d spent pretty much her whole life in.

I’m excited for the second book in this series. I hope there’s as much action in the sequel as there was in this book. It felt like it was non-stop from the beginning and that was amazing to follow… I also liked that both Laia and Elias went through their own separate bouts of action, they didn’t spend the whole book together which was nice. It’ll be interesting to see how their relationship develops and if they manage to save Laia’s brother. I actually most curious to see what happens after that fact, where the two of them will go… whether they’ll go their separate ways or whether Elias will stick around with Laia and her brother.

It’ll also be interesting to see how Helene fairs in the next book. Especially with her commitment to the Empire and it’s new, not so kind, leader. She helped Elias and Laia escape but she made of point of stating that it was the last time, that after that point they were enemies and that nothing would change that. I would also like to see Elias go up against his mother, the Commandant. That would definitely be interesting… either way I hope the Commandant gets what she deserves.

So many wishes and desires for the next book that’s for sure. I can’t wait.

Would I suggest this book to other bookworms? Yes!
Will I be reading the other books in the series? Pffft.. of course!
Am I completely in love with this book? Sooooo much action packed awesomeness! How could I not be in love with this book!?

[I rate this book 5/5 stars]

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