A Lethal Warrior and a Spy Willing to Risk it All... Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes

Monday, 13 July 2020
Sabaa Tahir
Edition: HarperVoyager e-Book
Released: 4th June 2015
Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Pages: 465 approx.

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 has been skirting around in my periphery for a very loong time. I'm not sure why I put it off or didn't think to pick it up earlier. I knew a lot of people had read and loved it and I knew it sounded exactly like my kind of book. But for whatever reason, I just never found myself picking it up. Maybe the hype just made me a bit nervous. However, this all changed when I retweeted a tweet about needing to finally get on to reading it a couple weeks ago and my lovely friend, Finn, suggested a buddy read. And if it hadn't been for Finn finally giving me the nudge I so desperately needed, well I wouldn't have discovered a new favourite.

I'm not going to lie and say this book was plain sailing from the beginning. It did take me a wee while to settle in. I was initially unsure of the characters (*ahem* I'm pretty sure this was down to the different, weird romances cropping up at the beginning) but after I hit about the half way mark, all of that calmed down and I was pretty much invested in Elias and Laia's storylines. I didn't even favour one POV like I usually do, I was so invested in both. 

Honestly, Elias and Laia's POVs ended up complimenting and accentuating each other's so well. I couldn't stop reading come the second half of the book. I loved the contrast Tahir created between the two. SO much. Like, I don't think I've ever shipped two people together as much as these two for the longest time. I just love the idea of them together and think they fit so well. I loved how Elias was the outwardly stoic, super kick-ass warrior type (one of my absolute favourite character archetypes, give me The Warrior any day!!) but also had a lot more depth to him and a true gentleness. I also loved Laia because she struggled to see her worth and her own strength and I believe that's something everyone can really relate to - I certainly could. Both showed that strength can come in a lot of different forms. I also loved a few of the side characters - particularly Izzi, who showed yet another level of strength and bravery I could only admire, and Cook, who was just a plain enigma. 

Overall, I really ended up loving An Ember in the Ashes. Although a slow burn for me to begin with, the characters and my growing love for them as the book went on, ultimately hooked me in. They've become some of my favourite characters and I just love them a lot, okay?! I'm so invested in their storyline now and I'm literally writing this while in the middle of the sequel, so there's the proof right there. If you're a bit like me and have been put off by the hype but love fantasy stories, a merciless world and complex, LOVABLE characters, just pick it up. Honestly, just do it; you might end up loving it like me.


Until next time,
Happy Reading!!

Have you read this book already? What did you think about it?

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