Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Links:Goodreads, Amazon, Book Depository.
What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?
For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.
For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.
When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.
But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.
An Ember in the Ashes was an absolute whirlwind of a book. This is the kind of book that makes you feel every emotion under the sun- good and bad- in the best way possible and leaves you coming back for more. It tore my heart out, stamped all over it, put it back and repeated. Several times. It is difficult to find a book that can bring out this feeling, bring out so many different emotions in you, make you fall in love completely and wholly and forget all about the real world, but this is one of those rare treasures, and I am so glad that I decided to pick it up.
This is a story packed full with action, suspense and tension all told in the perfect places to create the most breathtaking effect. The writing was spectacular, the descriptions sensational, from the violent scenes of battle to the inner turmoils of Laia and Elias as they strive for their different endgames – Laia to rescue her brother, and Elias to escape.
The two main characters don’t actually meet until a bit later on in the book. Their stories start off separately, yet come together seamlessly. All Laia wants is to rescue the only family she has left – her brother. All Elias wants is to escape the years of torture and training he’s been forced to suffer at Blackcliff Academy. They meet and their stories and plans collide.
The character development of both Laia and Elias is astounding. Told in dual perspective, you can see the strength of each of the character growing steadily from the best vantage point possible. I loved that the romance wasn’t the most prominent facet of the story. It was woven through delicately in the background while everything else- all of the problems, fights and conspiracy – was faced head on explosively.
Rating: This was an absolute stunner of a book. A sensational debut that not only lives up to the hype surrounding it, but surpasses it. I can honestly say that it deserves: ★★★★★