When the Empire takes her brother, Laia turns the
to bargain a deal that will save him. Unfortunately, this
means becoming their spy in the one place she doesn't
a chance of surviving in, the military academy of the
Empire. There, a young man named Elias, trained as one of
the best soldiers, yearns for a freedom away from the
oppressive system. The two will soon discover that their
paths are not so separate, and that together, they may
a chance of surviving.
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir is an absolutely
breath-taking, gut-punching read that belongs at the top
must-read lists. On the surface, the story contains many
similar elements to other stories: an oppressive
a questionable resistance, a girl and boy caught in the
middle of it all, etc. What Tahir does with these elements
is beyond extraordinary, turning the common set ups or
characters into something wholly unique and mesmerizing.
At the top of my list of favorite twists in this novel is
one of the protagonists, Laia. While I can never read
kick butt female characters who start the story already
of clear bravery and confidence, I can't help but relate
a character like Laia more: someone who struggles to find
her strength and courage when everything goes wrong. She
feels fear, makes mistakes, and doesn't always have a
Her heart, intelligence, and spirit allow her character to
grow into someone incredible, and her journey is full of
much power and hope. She is a character whose victories,
small or large, will leave you crying tears of joy.
With brilliant world building and a plot that will rip
heart out more than once, romance isn't a dominant theme,
but the romance(s) in the story still left me awestruck.
Both characters navigate a potential romance, as the two
spend more time apart than together in the story, and they
are handled realistically and beautifully. The
are multi-faceted, show the fluidity of emotion, and
how confusing love can be until you find what it is you
really want. It makes the romance readers will suspect
coming much more powerful and sincere.
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES claims a forever spot on my list of
books to always recommend, no matter what. Sabaa Tahir
crafts a sublime story with characters that will
steal your heart and soul, and I cannot wait for the
I WILL TELL YOU THE SAME THING I TELL EVERY SLAVE.
THE RESISTANCE HAS TRIED TO PENETRATE THIS SCHOOL COUNTLESS
TIMES. I HAVE DISCOVERED IT EVERY TIME.
IF YOU ARE WORKING WITH THE RESISTANCE, IF YOU CONTACT THEM,
IF YOU THINK OF CONTACTING THEM, I WILL KNOW
AND I WILL DESTROY YOU.
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.