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Sunday, March 13, 2016

An Ember in the Ashes (#1) by Sabaa Tahir

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Synopsis From 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.

5 Star Review


This book seemed to get quite a bit of hype when it was first released and I can now understand why. I put off reading this book for quite a while, at first it was because I was waiting for it become cheaper to buy- this bookworm is always looking for a good deal. Secondly, I got into my head that it was one of these confusing Fantasy worlds that needed a certain amount of brain power to work out what was happening - I wish I knew where with idea came from - but this was not the case it was a great world nothing confusing about it at all, in fact as I re-read the blurb I can totally see how it was based on ancient Rome. Anyway, I finally pick this book up and really loved reading it and wish I had got around to reading it earlier.
"There are two kinds of guilt" I say softly. "The kind that's a burden and the kind that gives you a purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be."
-Page 376
This book has an amazing first chapter that quickly drew me into the world. It was written in such a way that the fear and tension of the characters was so clear that by the end of the chapter I was tense myself, the emotions and feelings of the characters basically dripped off the pages. The first chapter from Elias's point of view (POV) really highlighted that the ruthlessness shown by the Masks in the first chapter wasn't just for the Scholar's it was a 'norm' with the Empire.
"Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.. too much fear and you're paralysed...too little fear and your arrogant...Fear can be good. It can keep you alive. But don't let it control you."
-Page 424

Due to the brutality of the Empire which is clear and consistent though out this book there is a secrecy and I spent quite some time working outs who loyalties lay where. As well as secrets this book is full of hidden histories, and often when one of the main characters does find out new information we are never given full stories, what answers we are given just open up more and more questions. 
I think that the way in which the two POV were used in this book was very effective. I am generally not a great fan of having more than one POV - I get far too attached to one character- but this book uses the two POV well and it defiantly helps to develop and explore the world. I liked the way in which that as the reader, you knew things that the character's weren't aware about each other, and it worked especially well as the two main characters interacted more.  
The romance side of this book is quite small and I was worried when I read the blurb we were going to have a Romeo and Juliette insta-love story between our main characters but it wasn't. The romance is a slow growing romance or at least I think they could be more than an friendship - it seems to be suggested, but between which characters you will have to read the book and find out! 
This book was overall a great read centring around the lengths a sister will go for her brother and the idea of freedom from a brutal Empire. It has a great ending that sets everything in place for a revisionary sequel.