By Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes #1
Hardcover: 446 pages
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Rated: ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯ ✯ - 5 out of 5 Stars
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.
Holy hell, I could not possibly have picked a better book for my first 'pleasure read' of summer break! I'm sure you avid readers have stumbled across that rare book that blows you away; the kind of book that makes your heart race and your palms sweat with each turn of the page. An Ember in the Ashes made me furious and elated, heart broken and blissfully content- all at the same time. Could I be a bit overzealous to be reading anything other than a textbook? Possibly. Maybe. I can't be sure. All I know is that Miss Tahir's writing is phenomenal. She was able to capture the characters and their personalities in a way that connected me to them from page one. Laia, our main protagonist is an amazingly strong and brave young lady. I always tend to connect with the rebel, the character that refuses to conform, and Laia is that and so much more. Her strong will and fierce loyalty, combined with a passionate, eternally raging fire burning inside of her earned my respect immediately. She is one of the best written female characters that I have ever read!
Elias. I fell in love with him more times than I care to admit. His desire to do the right thing time and time again, his humility and loyalty, his fierceness and power were so alluring to me. He is the perfect male character in every way. He is the son of one of the most villainous, truly evil characters ever written. I don't want to give too much away; spoilers suck! But I will say that if retribution isn't his by the conclusion of this book, I will be heartbroken. Shattered. Vengeful even.
The world of the Martial Empire is beautifully awful. The scholars are completely oppressed by a race far superior in their brutality. I was furious practically the entire way through. I raged inside at the thought of the horrid treatment that these poor people suffered daily. And I loved it.. every agonizing, disgusting moment. Beautifully written Miss Tahir. I have found myself pulling away from the dystopian books, as they all have begun to sort of mimic each other. At first, this reminded me so much of Marie Lu's Legend Series, but it is SO much more. The addition of supernatural creatures couldn't have been more perfect, yet beyond shocking. I was not expecting it at all, which made it even more perfect! If you haven't read this phenomenal book yet, do so immediately. It is imperative to your health as a human being to do so. (:
"Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength."
"You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”
"“The voice is deep and soft, not a sound so much as a feeling. It is storm and wind and leaves twisting in the night. It is roots sucking deep at the earth, and the pale, sightless creatures that live below the ground. But there’s something wrong with this voice, something diseased at its core.”
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