20 February 2018

An Ember in the Ashes: Review

Title: An Ember in the Ashes (Ember Quartet #1)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publication Date: Feb. 9, 2016
Find: Amazon | Goodreads
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.

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

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This book sat on my bookshelf for a long time. Too long, in fact. It was a paperback Amazon special. You know the ones; books that are so inexpensive and you know you've been meaning to read them, anyway... So, may as well get it! Yeah.

So, it sat there unread until one day, I just picked it up and dove in. I'm not going to lie and say that within the first few pages, I was hooked. It took me awhile, actually. Not that the story was bad! I just didn't connect to the characters until later. Probably until all the crap started hitting the fan.

These poor characters. Not only does Laia's world get turned upside down in the very beginning, but all the bad things just keep happening to her as the story progresses. But, does she bend? No, she becomes stronger.

The same can be said for Elias. He seems a tad weak and indecisive. And then by the end, he's blossomed into what I hope will be a promising hero for the rest of the series.

The romance factor is a tad confusing. There's a lot going on in that department and none of them are very definitive. I'm still scratching my head over which way I think Ms. Tahir will lead the characters.

Along with Elias and Laia, there's an entirely other grand cast of characters just waiting to have more of their stories told. And, I'll be there, waiting to see what they are!

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