Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Laura’s rating: 5 stars
Daniela’s rating: 5 stars
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.
This book got me calling in sick so I could read all day long (please don’t tell my boss) I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, I felt so many emotions, I got angry, frustrated and hopeful in a matter of 4 days, I felt love and betrayal like a second skin. UGH!
There are to POV’s: Laia and Elias; they are polar opposites, but somehow keep bumping into each other. Laia is a Scholar, her land and people were subjugated by the Empire, nowadays the scholars are illiterate and treated like slaves, but once upon a time they were somewhat technological and educated. Now they live like peasants and fear the Empire, because any action that smells of rebellion means torture and death.
So that’s how Laia got herself a spying job at the Blackcliff Military Academy. In exchange for information the Resistance will help her rescue her brother. I cannot stress enough how bad things are for her, this world is ugly, and good things almost never happen.
Later on, she meets Elias, he’s the Commandants son but he’s NOTHING like her, that bitch’s a psycho. Elias is planning to run away, but stuff gets messy and he ends up in a contest to become the Empire’s ruler (how fitting!)
Anyway, everything goes downhill from there, there are some love triangles running around, but the world building is so savage is not even that important. I just wanted people to stay alive.
As for the characters, between the Commandants egomaniacal personality and Augurs aloofness I was like ENOUGH. I found myself reading 2 pages and putting the book down so I could think about what was happening and how that made me feel. YUP, it was that good.
This book started at a jog and ended in a freaking run. I’m still reeling.
I absolutely LOVED this book. The story, the action, the possible love interest, the betrayal… everything was just on point.
We’re set in this world in which there’s an Empire that controls everything. They rule this side of the world in which there are Scholars that are the lowest kinds of trash to them. The Empire slaved the Scholars years and years ago and have been killing them and hunting them as they please, but something is rising among them.
We have two pov’s in this story. Laia is a scholar girl who found herself losing absolutely everything one sad night thanks to the Masks, the Empire’s army. That’s how she finds herself becoming a spy for the rebellion. She’s set into this journey in which she must find all the info she can about the Commandant’s plan to get some help for her brother. And so she does. She becomes this part of the rebellion all so she can find her brother alive. Then we have Elias. He’s been a Mask since he was taken from his adoptive family at the age of six. He’s seen and brought death his entire life, but there’s nothing he despises more than hurting those around him. He hates being a Mask and what it represents. So he’s been planning on running, going away to find his freedom. Only it might not be what he expected.
Elias and Laia are constantly running into each other, helping each other in some way. I enjoyed reading their separate stories and those moments they shared were highly appreciated too. There’s something intense when it comes to them, something I can’t possibly describe, but it’s there. It’s completely raw and grows little by little with every encounter.
In this story we have everything, absolutely everything you might want in a book. It was everything I was hoping it would be and more. Between the crazy obsession of the Commandant, Laia’s need to get to her brother, Elias’ raw desire of being or doing something good for those around him, the betrayals, the plot twists… You find yourself creating a thousand possible theories, but then, something changes and your thoughts all go to shit.
So yeah, read it. It is AWESOME.