Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publication Date: 9 February 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia
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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.
Y’all, this novel was phenomenal. It literally had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.
First and foremost, the world creating in this novel was inspiring. Sabaa Tahir has created one of the most nuanced and intriguing worlds of any recent book that I’ve seen. The Roman inspiration for the novel is very apparent throughout the novel, which added a realistic quality to the fantasy. More importantly, the world was presented in a really interesting way. At the start, there was a lot of world building which was a little boring at times. However, most of the world building occurred as the story progressed so that readers were learning more about the world as the story unraveled itself. And, quite frankly, I enjoyed that.