Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Audience: Young Adult
Narrators: Fiona Hardingham and Steve West
Length: ~15 hours (446 pages)
Publisher: Razorbill; Penguin Random House Audio
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Source: Libby app
Recommended for Fans of: Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, Renee Ahdieh, Marie Rutkoski
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.
I LOVED this book. The characters are so strong and complicated. I like that Laia is cowardly but takes risks for her family because I think it makes her more relatable than many of the brave, swaggering heroines of YA fantasy. I just want to give Elias a hug because is always in these impossible situations, forced to choose between his own happiness and the people he cares about.
The conflict in this book is so heartrending. I also loved the richly developed fantasy world of this book, and I can’t wait to learn more about the magic system in future installments.
This is one of those series that hurts to read because you love the characters so much and they never seem to get a break no matter how close they get to their goals. But despite the pain, you just CAN’T STOP reading because the story is so well written.