21 February, 2017


Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Razorbill
Release: 2015
Source: ebook, paperback
Pages: 453

// Goodreads /BookDepository // Amazon //

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.


EXPECTATIONS: Another Tumblr/Goodreads favorite. Literally everyone on my dash was talking about this book and how awesome it was! Therefore, I was expecting a lot. A LOT. I was dying to read it but it took me several months to get my hands on a copy at a reasonable price (I'm a poor student, my reasonable is what others would call "a misery") anyway it was supposed to be a November read but I couldn't wait and actually finished it the 31st of October. Bravo. Applause for me and my impatience.

THE WORLD: It is set in the deeps of the Martial Empire. The Martial Empire enslaved another powerful group called the Scholars. I put a picture of what it's supposed to look like although is not high quality, sorry. So anyway, once, the Scholars were the supreme people because they possessed the most wisdom. They knew about medicine, war and weapons, history, etc but their ambition led them to be defeated by the Martials, which are the "pure brutes", no brains. The majority of this book happens in Blackcliff, where the finest soldiers of the Martial Empire are trained from the age of 6 until the age of 20 (ages are approximations) and these highly trained soldiers, the elite, are called Masks. The Masks are supposed to be the cruelest and deadliest of all. Always following orders. Always. They never defy their orders. This is the system the Martial Empire uses to control the Scholars and rebels, they send the Masks to kill them or kill their families and torture them. Of course nobody does a thing, not even the Emperor oh yes there is one but he's the cruel as well and actually is barely mentioned at all... ah, and there is also a free country called Marinn and the tribal desert where the tribes live. The desert is not exactly free but the Empire cares nothing for the tribes and only uses the desert as a training area for the Blackcliff students.

CHARACTERS: The main character is Laia, she is 17 and a Scholar living with her grandparents and only brother Darin (just in case you're wondering the Scholars don't have surnames anymore). The Empire killed her parents and older sister because they accused them of treason so the remaining family just tries to survive making marmalade and being obedient, staying out of trouble... until Darin does the "Stupid Thing" and sentences the family to death. Actually Darin is just sent to prison and Laia seeks out help from the rebels. She ends up in Blackcliff and meets Elias Veturius, the finest soldier of the academy. Elias is a Mask about to graduate but he wants to escape and be free. Not a chance. You know who has the power here? the Augurs. They are like humans with red eyes but live thousands of years and have powers, all kinds of powers. The Augurs had a prophecy that one of the soldiers of Blackcliff would be the new Emperor so they set out The Trials.

Four they are and four traits we seek: 
Courage to face their darkest fears. 
Cunning to outwit their foes. 
Strength of arms and mind and heart. 
Loyalty to break the soul.

(That's super creepy right?)

They choose four soldiers: Marcus, the antagonist and a complete as*hole, his brother Zak who follows him like a puppy but has troubled morals, Helene who is Elias' bestfriend and Elias himself. They will all have to fight between them. The winner will be Emperor, the runner-up will be the Emperor's Blood Shrike (basically the Emperor's slave because he/she will have to do anything the Emperor asks him/her to do. They can't say no and they can't resign unless the Emperor gives them freedom.) and the other two will die.

I'm not going to give away much more but let's just say that there is quite a lot of action, there is some romance, there is backstabbing, etc. Laia will have to fight for her survival, Elias for his freedom, and I will have to wait an eternity for the second book. Darn it.
Oh! and let's not forget the character of the commandant, Keris Veturius. That woman is insane and a complete lunatic!

GOOD: Everything is a plus! The whole Empire thing reminds me of the Ottoman Empire and the Scholars remind me of the ancient Greeks. That's just a comparison to make it easier to wrap my head around the story. The characters are enjoyable except for these two villains who I just cannot stand, they're disgusting and I hope they die soon but I don't think so because good villains make good stories. I specially liked Laia's, Elias', Helene's and Izzy's dynamics. You will see. They're noble and human and flawed...

BAD: No big minuses for me. The reading was fast, super fast indeed, and the characters had good dynamics so I won't complain. If I have to complain is because of a hinted love triangle which I don't think will be a thing in the next book. I hope so at least.

OVERALL: 5 stars and goes to favorites just like The Wrath and the Dawn did. I cannot wait for the second book! It's going to be called A Torch Against the Night and will be released in April 2016.


EXPECTATIONS: So I knew Laura loves this book and as our taste used to be pretty similar I eventually got the paperback of it. Needless to say it ended up standing on my shelf for a really long time before I finally read it.

THE WORLD: Have to admit this world reminded me a lot of Fallen Kingdom. Or any fantasy novel to be honest. Basically we have this empire who enslaves people and so they train soldiers and you have to serve the empire or die...jaba jaba jaba. Heard this story million of times before. Also there is of course slavery, how else to shock the reader right? But to be honest I just could not buy it. If you write about slavery then make it sound like it actually is slavery and not just underpaid servants. Really, I have read books with slaves before and Ember in the Ashes had no actual slaves in it. The whole world to be frankly was just blah...Maybe I just read this book too late and have read way too much good fantasy books so it pails in comparison or maybe it just me personally but I really really felt nothing for this world. 

CHARACTERS: The main characters as Laura already mentioned are called Laia and Elias. Now is it me or were their names on purpose made to sound very similar? I half listen to audiobook of this book and it was actually confusing sometimes who is who. Anyways let's talk about personalities here. Which would not be much. So Laia...can be please just take a second and talk about how incredibly whiny and annoying she is? Seriously! Or do I just have too much common sense to understand her stupid choices? I mean really, she remind of many characters but only a few I ever wanted to slap this much. Now I know this will sound horrible but I was rooting for her to die. And then there is Elias...a forever victim...you know I might have okayed his if it wasn't for his mother. Do not tell me she was an actual character! We all know she was just a prop for us to pity Elias. Why cannot we have books where we ain't liking the character because he/she is a victim? Honestly, just horrible. 

ROMANCE: We all know this book is one sad love story between a soldier and a slave. At least that's the plot it advertised. Well I am sorry but this ain't no Romeo and Juliet. Just no. No no no.

GOOD: It ended. I know I am coming of here as a hater but I really really disliked this book. So for me the only good thing truly was that it eventually ended. 

BAD: Okay so you already got the idea that I disliked this book. Well to be honest I might have been able to stand the characters and the plot if it was original but for me this was just another same story I have read many many times before. I am very much trying to think of anything that was original and I just cannot. I might read too much, I guess.

OVERALL: This turned out to be yet another Wrath and the Dawn for me. I guess Laura and I ended up having very different likes for the books which is fun expect when you ended up with very bad feelings for the book and super disappointed. Anyways, that is that. Ain't gonna touch the second book ever. 2.5/5 stars.

What do you think about AN EMBER IN THE ASHES?