An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – Spoiler Free Review

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Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Sabaa Tahir
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: April 28th, 2015
Pages: 446 (Hardback)
Publishers: Razorbill

4 and a half Star

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


Well I am having an awesome reading month so far! I was in a tad bit of a reading slump the last couple months and had only been getting 2 to 4 books read in a month, but so far this month I have read 6 books and finished an audiobook! 

Cover Art: 

I like this cover because it actually shows part of the place where the story takes place. The cliff with the Blackcliff Academy at the top in the background. I like that you can picture how the buildings and stuff look at the Academy. I also like that Elias & Laia are in the cover, Laia at the bottom in the sand and Elias in the H. 

Also, this book is bloody huge! And I don’t mean thick/pages I mean the actual size, like this book is the same length as my iPad Air 2 and only 1 cm narrower than the iPad. It is massive and because its a hardcover its pretty heavy too and hard to hold up for long periods of time when laying in bed.


I enjoyed Sabaa Tahir’s writing in this book, it’s not as beautiful as say Laini Taylors or J.K. Rowlings but it was still pretty good and also really easy to follow. This was also a pretty quick read for the size of the book. Her writing is really easy to read and I think that is why it was such a quick read. The world building in this book was really well done aswell and also easy to follow.

Also, it has maps!!! 2 to be exact! I like that these are in the front and back cover of the hardcover, which makes it easy to flip back to them. Inside the front cover has a map of The Empire & the back cover has a map of the Blackcliff Academy! Most books only have maps of entire countries or whatever they happen to be called in the certain book, but this book has a map of the academy as well which is really cool and interesting to get a close up view of where everything is in the Academy. 


I love how intense and interesting this plot was! There was never a dull moment in this book and there were tonnes of twists and turns to keep you interested the whole time! This plot was also fairly unique, I have obviously read books with similar tropes in it, but the rest of it was pretty unique from anything else I’ve read!


This book is Multi POV and follows 2 main characters Elias & Laia. Elias is a really interesting character I love how he always tried to stay true to what he believed in unless he had no choice and in the end he drew a line and stuck to it, even if his own life was in danger. Laia was probably one of the more relatable ‘female heroin’ type characters that I’ve read. She never tried to pretend that she was some badass, tough and fearless character, she showed weaknesses and she showed that sometimes she felt like giving up. But she is loyal to her brother and her friends and what is right and will never give up and that is what makes her strong! 

I enjoyed Izzi’s character and the fire in her that she occasionally showed when helping Laia. Cook I believe had her and Izzi’s best interest at heart and will always take the safest road. But she came through in the end and I’m really curious about her back story but I don’t know if we’ll find out in the following books. I honestly didn’t like Helene, she annoyed me basically the whole time and she always contradicted herself which was irritating. She wants to make a difference but not enough of a difference for it to actually mean anything! At the end I get why she chose what she did but that was the only time I really agreed with her. Mazen I didn’t like from the start and was suspicious of the whole time. Keenan was an interesting character and I’m keen to see more of him in the next books hopefully! The commandant, can someone just push her over the cliff already. 


I really enjoyed this book, the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars was that the writing didn’t blow me away and I’m trying to be a bit more critical as I easily give out high ratings to books I enjoy without thinking through every aspect of the book and judging the entire thing. So I did really enjoy this book but there was just a couple little things that weren’t perfect for me, so that is why I chose to rate it 4 1/2 stars. 

So as I just said I’m going to try and be more critical about my ratings. I’m also thinking about creating a type of rating system to judge it by easily. 

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