Boldly Going into the World of Fantasy: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

by 10:37 AM 4 comments
An Ember In the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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.

I promised myself this year that I would get back into reading more fantasy and I'm starting to realize why I usually go towards contemporary novels. While An Ember in the Ashes was entertaining it left me with this...meh feeling.

With a unique and interesting plot, I'm not surprised that I was completely pulled into this story. The world that Tahir creates is dark and dangerous. The characters are put through harsh and emotionally straining situations that will either break them or help them move toward destroying their enemies. Apparently, this story is loosely based on ancient Roman civilization. While I don't really see that connection I get that this has more to do with the violence of that time than anything else.
The Negatives:
When I say violence I freakin' mean it! The villains in this story are merciless and will pretty much drop kick a baby off a cliff without a second thought. Sometimes though I felt that the violence was put in for shock value. I hate violence for no reason in books. I could see sometimes how it was necessary for character development but also just chill out a bit. I also just realized that the last fantasy-ish book I read was also pretty violent, what's with all the violence?!?!?!
I was hoping for a bit more. More knowledge about the society, about the resistance, about what this mean for their society but I felt that this whole book was just about the two mc's and their problems. What about the hundreds of people this will affect how will this change society? Maybe more of that is in the second book but I felt that some of this book was just surface issues and I wanted more political drama.
There is a bit of political debate but of course it is mixed in with the violence. I don't want to give away any part of this book but to put it simply a large part of this book revolves around a Trail that Elias has to take to prove his worth. Every trail was him trying not to get killed but not actually proving his worth for any other kind of leadership role. The Trials didn't seem all that trying, it just made it seem like Elias's whole life would have just been him avoiding assassination. Like where is the strategy, where's the thought it take to be a leader?
The Positives:
I actually liked the characters. I usually don't like books with multiple pov's  but I loved being in Laia and Elias mind. Laia wasn't a badass she was a scared girl trying to find her courage in a really harsh world. All she wanted to do was save her brother who protected her all her life and that was admirable. It's pretty hard not to like her because her emotions are real and what she's facing is complete torture but she still fights for her last bit of family. Elias is trying to escape his privilege but soulless prison. He just wants to be free and he fights against the Empire and all that it stands for. I liked every character in this book even the secondary ones. Elias best friend Helene and Izzi, heck even Cook was an interesting woman.
Holy suspense Batman!!! This book was a page turner! It had my heart pounding in the right places. I often feared for the MCs, life's, I was questioning people and their motives, I liked it! It was one of the things that keep me completely enthralled with this book.
I don't know how I feel about the romance in this book but I liked how any romantic feelings the characters had didn't swallow the plot and point of this book. While there seemed to be two love triangles (or would that be a love square?) going on it didn't bother me because it wasn't consuming the whole book.
I give An Ember in the Ashes a solid three rating.
Have You read this book? Did you like it? What non-contemporary books have you read and enjoyed so far this year?

Until the next book,
See ya!!!!!
Obssessed Reader

Hello! My name is Taylor and welcome to my blog!!! I started this blog to chronicle a year of transition in my life. I started it over a year ago when I began my last year of college. Now I’ve graduated and it is time for a new chapter of my life. So far life after college has been quite interesting. Before I was a college student living in New York majoring in History who read way too much while jamming out to awesome music. Now I’m a Seattleite who reads way too much while jamming out to awesome tunes who drinks way too much coffee (seriously the coffee here is AMAZING!!!!!) SO this blog will consist of a lot of music playlist, a bunch of books reviews, and random ramblings about life and other things. Thanks for visiting!


  1. Oh gosh. I can't read fantasy to save my life. I did read this one, though. But I didn't have a very good experience with this one. Glad you gave it a chance.

    1. I used to love fantasy when I was younger and I avoided contemporary like it was a plague. But now it's completely different. I find myself reading more contemporary. This book was ok but, I'm glad I gave it a chance and branched out a bit.

  2. This is on my list. I want to read it. I do. I just haven't gotten around to it. Soon I'm hoping. I'm kind of sad you say it left you with a meh feeling. That is no bueno. Ah well at least it seems you kind of liked it.