TITLE: An Ember in the Ashes

AUTHOR: Sabaa Tahir

Rating: ★★★★★

PAGES: 446

PUBLISHER: Razorbill


GENRE(S): Fantasy, Romance

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - The Contented ReaderLaia 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.


An Ember in the Ashes is a brilliant story. It is beautiful, heartbreaking and full of adventure. It’s a story that I think everyone should read.

One of the best aspects of this book is its dual perspective. Chapters alternate between the perspective of Laia and Elias. Laia is incredibly strong and brave. Her bravery largely connects to her love for her family. Deep down, this story has its roots in love and Laia’s character highlights this fact.

Elias is quiet and reserved. But, do not mistake this as weakness. He is kind and generous, especially to Laia. I particularly enjoyed his conflicting emotions with respect to the Commandment. This demonstrates a level of realism that better connects the reader to Elias.

I also love Elias’ relationships with Helene and the Commandment. They both play an important role in the decisions he makes. They also play a role in Laia’s actions. The Commandment is definitely my new favourite villain. You love to hate her and those are the best villains.

This book is also action packed. There is never a dull moment. I constantly wanted to know more and never wanted to put the book down. I love when a book makes me want to give all my time to it. This book absolutely does not disappoint.

Sabaa Tahir carefully crafts An Ember in the Ashes with characters that leap off the page. They make your heart pound with each turn of the page. It is also clearly Tahir’s destiny to be an author. Her impeccable writing and vivid world-building only highlights this fact.

This novel is heartbreaking, emotional and violent. Above all, it is captivating. But, it is also a story that highlights strength, bravery and perseverance. I highlight, highly recommend reading this book. You will not regret immersing yourself in this world.

Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.

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About The Author

Sabaa Tahir Author Photo - The Contented ReaderSabaa 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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Victoria @ The Contented Reader

Victoria @ The Contented Reader

Avid reader and tea drinker. I read and review young adult books on my blog, The Contented Reader!


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