An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Goodreads 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. I can't guarantee that this review will make any sense because I finished it yesterday and I still have no words. It's probably going to be me rambling on about all the feels. I wanted to stop reading it so that I could savor it for a longer period of time, but I couldn't. Ember is one of these books that stay in your mind for a very long time long after you've finished it.
Few books reel you in right from the start, and Ember is one of them. Right from the first chapter, I was engrossed and kept flipping through the pages. Both Laia and Elias's story were captivating and the alternation of narratives made it all the more intense since some chapters end on a cliffhanger and we have to wait until their next narration before we find out what happens. However, I did find Elias to be a more interesting character, and his story was more intense for the most part. My poor little (okay, not so little) Elias Veturius. Sabaa's writing is phenomenal and there was never a dull moment in this book. I kept trying to wait for a point where the action dulled a little so I could take a break from reading, but nope.
The characters are all so wonderfully written, from the main characters to the supporting characters like the other slaves and members of Elias and Helene's platoons. *sob* The side/supporting characters didn't feel like they were side characters because even they give you the feels. Man, Tristas & Aeila forever. I can't even imagine any of Elias's friends as Masks since they seem to be so different from how Masks are described to be. So in summary, the characters are quite amazing and are my favorite part of this all around great novel.
Another thing I loved is that Sabaa Tahir does not hold back! The world she has created is brutal and she doesn't hesitate to describe it in detail. This reminded me of Game of Thrones, only a lot better. She uses vivid imagery to describe The Empire, Blackcliff, and other aspects of this world. Some people may feel a bit queasy with some of the things in here, but I just thought it made it all the more real.
I'm so glad I read this after we found out there is going to be a sequel because there are so many unanswered questions and I can't wait to follow the rest of Elias and Laia's journey and all the craziness I know they will encounter.
Overall, I'd give this book a six star if that was a thing, because wow.