Goodreads summary for An Ember in the Ashes:
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.
My Review for An Ember in the Ashes:
All in all, I feel like An Ember in the Ashes is so much more than that its blurb. Sabaa Tahir does a magical job of weaving stories together, between the characters, between genres, between what is reality and what is not. In this way, her story really captured me more than I had expected it to.
So, honestly, the plot is just a teensy bit “eh” to me. But only because it ended up being pretty similar to Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass novel (which, tbh I didn’t love, but that’s a whole other story). However, it was interesting enough, and the characters intriguing enough, to keep me going through the story.
I think there is a fair amount of diversity in the characters and their personality types throughout this novel. There are a lot of mysterious elements to many characters, and you wonder about their backgrounds constantly.
This story is fast-paced, but it does not feel rushed. It felt like the right tempo for the actions in the story, and some time-jumps made that possible. There was some confusion when I was switching between Laia and Elias’s perspectives. This was because many events occurred at the same time chronologically, and so it often felt as though I was “reading the past”.
I give An Ember in the Ashes 4/5 stars
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