>> Nº 4 on My 2015 Reading Challenge –A book published this year <<
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.
I adored this book! I found the world building exceptional and a bit terrifying, but it was complex and well-constructed, and the setting is amazing.
It took me a little time to get really into the book – not the book’s fault though – it just coincided with me being at a new place, less time to read in my commute to work, the raging heat and the fact that I own the hardcover and it is heavy as hell. Still, the pacing is great, especially when Laia and Elias’s lives become entangled.
Speaking of Laia and Elias, they are both strong characters and I really liked the dual perspective of the book, given that their time together is not that much, it is important to have both sides of the story. But if I had to pick one over the other, it would have been Elias, I LOVE Elias, and his chapters had so much feeling to it. Laia kind of annoyed me at first, with her feeling guilty and wanting to save her brother at all costs – honey, your brother told you to run, if you had stayed he wouldn’t be happy about it.
But once she meets Elias and begins to open her eyes to everything around her, she grows so much, she has an incredible amount of character development and I can’t wait to read more about her.
The writing is amazing, and Sabaa Tahir knows how to play with our emotions… OMG, that third trial broke me! I was sobbing in the subway… SOBBING! Worst! I cried for MARCUS!!! Can you believe it? I cried when he was telling Elias what he had done during that trial, and I could have killed the Augurs for it.
I love how the Augurs manipulated all the situations so Elias and Laia could run, because they are both embers in the ashes… well played!
Some random stuff – there might be SPOILERS:
- Those masks… they go exactly to where? Because I thought that they covered the whole face, but then when Elias returned from the first trial, he explicitly said that his beard was visible… so how? Does it grow through the mask? Does the mask not cover the whole face? Do you have an answer for me? I’m dying to know.
- I really liked Elias family dynamic, I loved that even though his grandfather was a ruthless mask, he did love his family and defended Elias with all he had.
- The Commander though, right? I mean, is she for real? I kind of love hating her.
- This world is cruel as hell, but incredible in a world where rape is talked almost nonchalantly, woman have important roles and can ascent to any position.
- I really liked Helene, though not for Elias, and I’m seriously afraid of what will happen to her now, that she swore herself to Marcus and will not break her promise.
- Keenan though, I wasn’t such a fan. Sure, he had a few moments, but he didn’t understand Laia at all and I can’t help but feel that, given his feelings for her, he could have done more to warn her of Mazen’s intentions.
- I need to know more about Cook, and about what Laia’s mother did. And I need to know who Elias father was.
- Oh, and I need them to hook up for real in the next book, that kiss was more than all right, but come one, they can do better.
- That third trail though, I still have bad thoughts about it. It was so damn cruel, Elias and Helene having to kill their friends and have their friends kill each other, and ultimately having to kill each other… nasty.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
32 thoughts on “An Ember in the Ashes (Sabaa Tahir)”
Great review! I really really REALLY need to read this book! I’m hoping to get to it soon, before the end of the year. But then again, SO many books and so little time. xoxo
I so understand you! This was a great read though 😉
I’m so glad you loved it too! It was really amazing book I Hope the sequel is released soon and great review BTW. 🙂
I really loved it.
What do you think of the masks though? it is eating me…
They are kinda mysterious and cool but sometimes creepy too.They seemed like cold hearted assassins well except Elias.Reminds me of the movie named Soldier where Kurt Russell is the lead actor.
but do you think it’s a full mask? and if so, how does the beard grow? I’m seriously thinking way too much about the masks… lol
LOL! I definitely think it’s a full mask and for the beard that thought didn’t crossed my mind and I think people with masks didn’t have beards and they are too young to grow beards and I can’t imagine them like that. 🙂
at first I didn’t think about it either, but they’re not that young, and Elias clearly says that his beard is long when he returns from the first trial, and then he notices that somebody shaved him… i was like “wait, what? how?”
But I still think it’s not too long I couldn’t imagine him with large beard on him do you?
it depends on the mask, lol. that’s why I thought that maybe the mask only goes to the cheeks… but he says that the mask goes to the jaw bone, so I’m kind of lost… I’m considering tweeting Sabaa Tahir to ask
If it’s eating you too much then it’s better to ask the direct source it’ll solve all your questions. 🙂
i think i will, she might respond, she did it before 🙂
well, good luck with that 🙂
Great review! I think this is one of my favorite YA books this year!
Great review! I’m so glad you loved this book, I did too. Can’t wait for the sequel! 🙂
😀 me neither 😀
I just need to know more, I want to see what the Augurs have planned for them and how they will bring down the Empire
Omg I know right? The suspense and everything is killing me…
and I NEED to know the backstories, something went down with Cook and Laia’s mom, I need to know what!!! 😀 And Elias father?! I’m so curious about the story there
Still haven’t read this yet, but I own it already! I’ve been seeing everyone rave about this. It’s making me really excited!
I really liked it 😀 read it and I hope you enjoy it as well
I just finished this book this morning (and I read Red Queen before it, so it’s funny that you wrote posts about each of them this week…). It was AMAZING. I agree with you on everything!
The third trial tore me to pieces so much that afterwards, I had to put the book down and just take a break. Just WOW.
“Oh, and I need them to hook up for real in the next book, that kiss was more than all right, but come one, they can do better.” Yes. I need more.
That trial was just so brutal… i had tears rolling down my face the whole time, and I was feeling super sorry for Marcus (of all people)…
I really like Helene, but come on, I need more Laia and Elias!
I can’t wait to read about him training her, as that’s totally where this is going. I have a thing for guys who can use a sword… (And that came out dirtier than I intended!)
LOL, I think it’s natural! And Elias sounds pretty hot! I totally love Elias… not ashamed of that…
Awesome review. I couldn’t agree more. Not sure about the masks. But honestly I keep getting the feeling that cook is laia’s mother. And she hates herself for causing so many deaths. I could be wrong as it’s just a shot in the dark but I have a gut feeling. When she first saw Laila she left the room. Laila thought it was because of her scarred face but I think she recognized her daughter and didn’t want to give herself away. She is a healer just like pop. I don’t know. Seems to be to much in common. As for Elias’s father, at first I thought his grandfather raped his mom and conceived him which is why I thought she hated him so much….now I have no idea. I CANNOT WAIT for the next book.
I don’t think that Cook is Laia’s mom, she fled the kitchen because she looks just like her father and Cook saw that. And she’s older, maybe closer to her grandmother’s age… I think Laia’s mom was selfish as hell and did something that destroyed Cook, and Laia’s father tried to help but couldn’t.
I think Elia’s father has to be addressed in the second book, right? I don’t think his grandfather raped his mother, it wouldn’t fit =/
I can’t wait either, but it will take at least an year