Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes series | Book 1
Pages: 464 pages
Publisher: Razorbill (February 9, 2016)
Rating: 4 stars (Read It!-Choose It!)
The novel, An Ember in the Ashes, intertwines the stories of Laia, Elias, and Helene.
Laia is a Scholar, a part of the Scholar Empire, which the Martial Empire conquered. She lives with her grandparents and her brother on the Empire’s back streets and does not challenge the Empire because those who do quickly meet death. But when her brother comes home with his mysterious notebook with a Mask (an Empire soldier) behind him, she must seek out the Resistance (the rebel group) to rescue him.
Elias is a Mask-in-training who is about to graduate from Blackcliff Military Academy. Despite being the son of the Commandant, a ruthless women who runs Blackcliff, he is different from the other Masks because he shows mercy to others. Before being selected for a daunting competition, Elias prepares to flee the Empire so he can be free. He knows that being a soldier means doing whatever the Empire asks of him.
Helene is Elias’s friend and fellow Mask-in-training. She is Blackcliff’s only female student in Elias’s year, but she is a skilled warrior. She will do anything to save Elias who she knows is reluctant to serve the Empire.
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.
Sabaa Tahir gracefully weaves the three characters’ stories together into an intriguing story. The ending is a heartpounding cliffhanger and fortunately there will be a sequel: A Torch Against the Night.
I thought that the writing was a little repetitive in structure in the beginning, but improved as the story went on. Personally, I admired and was a little frustrated with Elias’s decision in the end. He saved a life, but condemned another life’s freedom.
My favorite character was probably Helene Aquilla because of how selfless she is. I hope that she doesn’t die in the next book. Curiously, her character reminds me an awful lot of Teresa from The Maze Runner.
Overall, I enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes greatly and was reminded of the Roman Empire, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and The Maze Runner when reading the book. I’d definitely recommend this book to lovers of fantasies, dystopias, and young adult.
Have you read An Ember in the Ashes? What are your thoughts on the characters? The plot? Feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment 🙂