Mar 4, 2016

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes 1)

  by SABAA TAHIR  

book review rating 4 out of 5

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 ...more

Goodreads summary

AS HIGH-STAKES AS The Hunger Games and cinematic as Gladiator, An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir doesn't just excite, she overwhelms my every senses—alarmingly…blissfully.

Set in a richly imagined world known as the Empire—a vicious and oppressive regime—begins the story of two vastly different characters. Laia is a beautiful Scholar slave; Elias is a lethal soldier of the Empire. Neither one is free. Though of different castes, Ms. Tahir carefully unravels to readers that both are subjugated—Laia physically and Elias psychologically. This commonality draws them together in a united struggle—a shared hope. Their story moves forward concurrently each with their own deadly agenda that will bring them step by step closer to crossing each other's path and taking the story to a crescendo.

I thought Ms. Tahir’s writing is unique and refreshing. She poignantly renders feelings of oppression, which left me at times equally burdened for Laia and Elias’ trials, and hopeful for their triumphs. I liked that she doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of the story by thrusting readers into a world marred by corruption and violence. Yet, she offers elegant prose that can offer moments of lightness and beauty as well. I absolutely loved the richness of her use of analogies and comparisons. Why simply write that something is beautiful, leaving readers to image and contemplate what that means exactly when you can read: “Now, in her black uniform, with her shining braid encircling her head like a crown, she’s as beautiful as winter’s first snow.” Sigh. That is such a gorgeous image. It just adds so much more depth, meaning, and connection for me as a reader.

The romance sprinkled throughout the story was rather disappointing. It is not very deep nor compelling with two connected love triangles. The constant shifting of emotions by the characters left me in a state of frustration, and by the end, I was no longer interested in their fleeting emotions.

Though I would have liked to experience a more profound romance, the world-building, character development, and elegant prose has me eagerly awaiting for A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes 2).

Available at

Amazon | Book Depository