A Slave, A Soldier and an Empire: How They’ll Change the Whole Game
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Summary (from Goodreads): 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.
The world in this book is amazing. The culture and structure of it is so refreshing and I loved it. I loved the how the society was slowly introduced, it wasn’t poured down my throat, but I had a good understanding that constantly built through the book. This book was set in a desert and so the characters were constantly surrounded by sand which I loved it was vastly different from the green and lush terrains I’m used to with the other books I’ve read.
I liked Laia the moment I met her. Something about her resounded with me and I was cheering for her since moment one. In the beginning, Laia is a terrified and frantically loyal girl. She will do anything to save her brother, Darin, even if it means enslaving herself to a vile maniac at a school that is a death sentence for Scholars. Laia believes she is not brave, but her willingness to do whatever it takes to rescue Darin says otherwise. As Laia survives, she starts to believe in herself more and she blossoms into her own strength.
Elias was so awesome!! I loved his rebellious streak, but at the same time I was like “Don’t get yourself killed Veturius!” He had amazing leadership skills and was such a nice guy despite the conditioning at Blackcliff. Occasionally I did want to hit him upside the head for being dumb, especially when he made comments about how Helene was a girl and thought differently. I still loved him and the attraction between Elias and Laia was so tantalizing! I want more, so much more of the two of them. I think they bring out the best in each other and should definitely be together!
The plot does start off kind of slow, but I was hooked from the beginning. Sabaa’s writing is flawless and she drags you so subtly into her world, you don’t realize you’re hooked until it’s too late and oh my god where did the book go? The Trials are amazing and mysterious as well as downright insane. I was shrieking and yelling pretty much the whole time one would go down. The last sixty pages I was trying very hard to contain my excitement but I definitely flailed my arms around a lot and was super giddy. It would’ve been embarrassing if anyone else had been in the section of library I was occupying.
Overall, I have found a new amazing author and I cannot wait for the sequel. I’m betting it’s going to be just as awesome if not better than An Ember in the Ashes. Especially if she does crazy stuff at the end like she did with this one. Let me just say HOLY MOTH BALLS THAT ENDING!!!