Book Review – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

an ember in the ashesUnder the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death.

When Laia’s grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels.

But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire’s greatest military academy. Should she fail it’s more than her brother’s freedom at risk… Laia’s very life is at stake.

There, she meets Elias, the academy’s finest soldier. But 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.

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My rating: Cyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Half starNo-Star

This is a book I dallied over reading for a while, and I honestly couldn’t tell you why. However I’m glad I did finally get to it!!

The setting is a Roman themed set up with Arabic influences, both of which really worked for me. I was worried it would feel too historical, but it didn’t at all. Also there is a lot of world building but it’s so cleverly done I almost didn’t notice it. It’s not all in one place, but spread slowly through the book, even though you never feel like you missing anything.

I am dying to know more about this deal the commandant (who is so evil omg) has obviously struck. And more about the history of the empire. The whole structure was abhorrent to me, but it is also fascinating – a feat that Tahir must be credited with. She writes about an empire which turns a blind eye to child abuse, rape, serious physical harm, and punishes fairly small transgressions with death, and yet I still wanted to know more.

There are TWO love triangles in this book and yet both really worked for me (I know, I know, I don’t believe it either). I’m glad it worked out how it did though – nothing felt too forced. In particular, Elias’ confusion felt very accurate.

Laia is probably my favourite character, as I like her determination, but also the fact that she’s sort of stumbling along and she’s always scared. This should be how characters coming into their own are written.

I did have a couple of issues with how little we really find out in the end, and also the fact that the rebels are morally grey at best (I need more there!), but honestly they small compared to the enjoyment this book brought.

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Buy An Ember in the Ashes from Amazon UK.

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