book review
5 Stars, Book Reviews

{REVIEW} An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

by Sabaa Tahir

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pub Date: Apr. 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 446 pages
Goodreads ♦ Amazon

Note: I received this book for free via a Clover Letter giveaway.


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.


AN EMBER IN THE ASHES started off a little slow. The first 3-4 chapters dragged on, leaving me wondering when the real plot and action was going to kick in. However, the wait was worth it. After the intro the book picked up and sailed through the rest of the story. I found it hard to put it down, but sleep always takes presedence for me. :p

Dual Point of View
I loved how the dual-viewpoints of Elias and Laia offered a compare and contrast effect. The reader gets to see the city, Blackcliff, and even society from two differing perspectives. Thus, the reader was really able to explore the mechanics of the world and, as a sucker for good world-building, this story mesmerized me. I found myself wanting to jump into the book and go off exploring other parts of the land of the Martial Empire.

Good vs. Evil
This book really delved into themes of ‘good vs evil’. Often times we view people as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but we don’t always know what’s going on inside. We don’t know what’s driving them to act the way they do. Perhaps they’ve been scorned and now will do anything for retribution. Or perhaps they’re just trying to stay alive and will do whatever it takes to do so, even if it means forfeiting their souls in the process. Whatever the case, people may not always be what they seem and you may find allies in the most unexpected places.

fiveP.s. My review was posted in the September 1st Clover Newsletter.

Have you read AN EMBER IN THE ASHES?
Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!


4 thoughts on “{REVIEW} An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir”

  1. I read this one and thought it was alright, but I’ve decided not to continue with the series. I actually thought the characters and worldbuilding were flat, even though it was a good concept. And I do think the evil commander at the school could use more characterization. I get that’s probably coming later in the series, but it was odd to see her in book 1 and basically be told she’s a villain and be given zero sense of her motivations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Briana! Thanks for commenting on my review and I can understand your viewpoint, especially in regards to the evil villain. Though, her motives kind of come out in the end. It sounds like a desire for acceptance from family, a need for power, and a sense to prove herself. Still, those are very typical and I would like to see more background.

      Laia wasn’t really my favorite either. I guess I liked her because she grew unlike so many other YA MCs nowadays, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Mm. I can understand that. I actually missed most of the hype (and have been reading not so good books lately). So, it’s possible that my opinion is skewed, but I think for the way the book was written (dual POV), it was good. And I’m a sucker for a cruel dictatorship. :p


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