An Ember in the Ashes By Sabaa Tahir

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An Ember in the Ashes: Summary by Goodreads

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.

My Review:

Right off the bat, I would rate this book a 3/5👍 . Before I even read this book, it was widely known in my age group for being a great read. So obviously, before I even got my hands on this book, I had very high expectations for it. However, perhaps because I had such impossibly high expectations for it in the first place, I wasn’t exactly blown away. It was a fast-paced read, and I definitely enjoyed reading it, but it was just a fun book. I didn’t learn anything from it, nor did I find anything spectacular; all I could say is that it was just really fun.

However, I did really enjoy the how and where the story was set. It was definitely a “young adult fantasy/action book”, but it was something I’ve never seen before, setting wise. The plot was pretty typical as well as the characters. Historical Roman themes of war and brutality were weaved nicely into the story, as well as an ethereal feeling associated with old myths and folklore. All in all, it was a fresh YA novel. However, I didn’t relate at all to the characters in the story. The book was told in a two-person alternative POV style, and all I really got from the POVs was the fact that both main characters are really brave. Their motives for what they were doing were unclear, and I felt that I only stayed to finish the book due to the exciting action scenes. I was also extremely frustrated with Laia, the female main-character, throughout the whole book: her “bravery” seemed more like bad reasoning to me. Also, the double love-triangle was not necessary to aid the plot (Laia and Elias both have love-triangle scenarios). The story would have been better off only with one main romance line connecting all the main characters. However, the dialogue was great and the plot was action-packed and full of twists and turns. The supporting characters were actually my favorite characters; Tahir immediately attaches the readers to the characters with their endearing descriptions (would have been nice to do with the main characters). All in all, I would recommend this book if you’re looking for something exciting enough to read in one-sitting without much thought. The book was good to keep me occupied, but my brain was practically dead throughout the entire book.

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