Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Synopsis: 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 was SO GOOD! I don’t even know where to start…
The characters were woven so beautifully. Laia feels as though she is weak and doesn’t live up to her mother’s legacy, yet she constantly demonstrates her strength and continues to grow both in confidence and character throughout the novel. I loved how Elias refused to lose who he was and was such a good person yet SO badass at the same time!! Even Helene – normally as the other girl I’d be tempted to dislike her but I loved Helene and I could appreciate her friendship with Elias and her feelings for him and especially her character as a result of being the only girl in her year.
The romance in this book was not set up how I expected it at all, which made it even better! It was a refreshing and unique way to read it which made it feel more real.
The theme of identity was definitely huge. Everyone struggled to be who they truly were despite what they were identified as by everyone around them. It was also interesting to see the contrast between Mask and slave, and how they’re not so different after all.
“He’s a martial. A mask.
But not here. Not tonight, in this room. Here, now, he is just Elias and I am just Laia, and we are, both of us, drowning.” pg. 371
Anywayssss, I absolutely loved this book and I’m about to go to the bookstore to buy the second one and I just can’t wait! I recommend this book to everyone !!