Have you ever had a book you couldn’t stop thinking about? You run over the plot and characters in your mind while at work? You stalk the author for any information regarding book 2? Well…this was me for An Ember in the Ashes. This book blew me away.
An epic story full of courage and wonderful diverse characters. A unique fantasy world that was cruel and wonderful at the same time. I just couldn’t put this book down. Today’s book is An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. I’m happy to report that An Ember in the Ashes in #2 on the New York Times Bestseller list! Congrats Sabaa!
Let’s take a look at the book!
- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Razorbill (April 28, 2015)
A “deft, polished debut” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), Sabaa Tahir‘s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and pulse-pounding read. Set in a rich, high-fantasy world with echoes of ancient Rome, it tells the story of a slave fighting for her family and a young soldier fighting for his freedom.
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.
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I honestly can say only one other book had me glued to the pages and kept by my side until finished. That was Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen. Now I found another book to hold me captive. An Ember in the Ashes was masterfully written. The pace flowed steadily to the point I just read and read.
The world the book centers around is brutal, ruled by the Martial Empire who enslave scholars, taking from them libraries, books and their freedom. Scholars live in poverty serving the Martials as slaves. They aren’t allowed to read or write for the punishment is death. To maintain such order, the Empire has special warriors with deadly weapons to keep the Scholars in their place. If a Martials’ child is accepted into the Blackcliff academy, they train to become these deadly warriors known as The Masks. They must wear silver masks 24/7, so they can form over their faces like second skin, given the name.
However, there is a resistance that has been rising for years against the Empire. Striking out when they least expect it.
The book moves from two different point of views. Laia is a young Scholar who knows how to read. One night a Mask comes to take her brother Darin away, for illegally drawing images of weapons, burns their house down and kills her grandparents. She can only do one thing, join the resistance and go undercover in Blackcliff to spy so her brother can be freed. It’s in the resistance she meets the handsome fighter Keenan who helps her during her time at Blackcliff. She endures much cruelty, especially by the Commandment, the leader of Blackcliff. A woman with much power and cruel determination to search out traitors from the resistance.
Elias is a highborn student at Blackcliff, training to be a Mask. But he wants no part of it and plans to desert only to be pulled back in by the Trials. Whoever wins these tests become Emperor. Those that lose die. He must compete against his best friend Helene under the watchful eye of his mother, the Commandment. Elias starts to have conflicting feelings for his friend Helene and the slave girl Laia. His story was my favorite part of the book. I loved his turmoiled emotions and how he sets out to do the right thing.
Love triangle haters beware, this book has a double whammy of a love triangle. I really don’t like love triangles. Elias has feeling for both Helene and Laia. Laia has feeling for Keenan and Elias. But Elias and Laia’s emotions are more connected with the moment rather than true feelings. He likes Laia’s looks and it seems to be based on that throughout the book rather than her wit. So who knows where it will lead. I love the connection between Elias and Helene and look forward to see what happens in the next book. They seemed the most perfect for each other. So the love triangle wasn’t really that bad because the story is what the book is all about.
Sabaa did a wonderful job weaving a realistic story in this fantasy world. It’s violent with bloody scenes that make the story much more intense. I gasped. I cringed. I yelled. I was a ball of nerves.
The description of the world brought to life every detail of the characters and setting. The action was non-stop and with each turn of the page some sweat gathered on my forehead with concern for Elias…oh and Laia! Sabaa did a wonderful job at this debut novel. I can’t wait to see what she has next because I eagerly wait for the sequel.
Should you read it? YES! What are you waiting for? This masterpiece of a story is something you can’t miss. You won’t put it down. Trust me. It’s a wonderful add to your library collection.
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About the author: Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.
We’re celebrating Sabaa’s NYT bestseller! I loved this book so much I want you to have a chance to read it. Here’s your chance to win a hard cover copy of An Ember in the Ashes from Amazon!
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