Sunday, February 22, 2015

"An Ember in the Ashes" (ARC review)

My Rating:  ★★★★★

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Series: An Ember in the Ashes (Volume #1)

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Page count: 464 (Hardcover)

Release date: April 28, 2015

Places to pre-order:
Barnes & Noble

Places to find author:


Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

My review:

First off, a HUGE thank you to Penguin & their program "First to Read" for giving me the chance to review a digital ARC of this novel. (*NON-spolier review*)


This novel is divided into three parts and is told in two points-of-view by Laia and Elias. As the reader, you get to see what type of life they currently have (separately) and what kind of world they are living in. This story follows Laia, a seventeen-year-old girl who goes undercover as a slave at the Martial Empire's military academy in exchange for help from the Resistance (rebels against the empire) to save her brother, and then there's Elias, a twenty-year-old (?) soldier who has no desire to stay and work for the Martial Empire, but then has to participate in a brutal, merciless contest for the throne.

In the beginning of the novel, it was a little confusing to understand the world, but I feel like that's because this is a fantasy novel, which means that it's a completely new world that the author had the challenge of writing and creating in a way for a reader to understand. As I kept reading, however, it became much clearer and easier to envision what this world would look like and how the characters weave through this cruel world full of darkness and evil that lurks in the shadows.

The more I got to know Laia, the more I saw her as an amazingly well-built character that learns the meaning of sacrifice and suffering, yet she somehow possesses the strength and determination to never give up throughout the whole novel. Elias, too, goes through a fair amount of sacrifice and suffering but in a way that helps him understand the true meaning of freedom and what it means to be selfless.

Another thing to add is that there were multiple moments when I had to hold my breath because something had happened to one of the characters... but since the novel is told in by both Laia and Elias, I couldn't relax or take a breath until the following chapter to know if certain things--BIG things--had happened or not.

Sabaa's writing style is dense, but in a way that allows the reader to get a better understanding of the world and of the character's thoughts. Her writing overall is unique and effective for this novel, because Sabaa was able to capture the moments when the characters were at their best and their worst, which is something I strongly admire in an author.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially to those who are looking for a new fantasy series! This book has three-dimensional characters, heart-pounding scenarios, multiple plot-twists, a good amount of romance and lots and lots of action! You won't regret reading this novel, because you'll be hooked until the very end! (I should know since I stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish this fantastic novel!)

~Whit Lo

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