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.
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Beware, this book review will be me gushing over how amazing this book is. I loved it! Based in the Martial Empire, we have two characters who must come to difficult decisions that will define their fate. Grandparents killed and brother arrested for treason, Laia seeks out help from the underground resistance in exchange for her brother’s freedom. When she gets sent to the Empire’s most prestigious military school to spy, she meets the top recruit, Elias. Elias, trained over the past decade to be a ruthless soldier, faces an inner struggle between who he is and what he believes is right.
“As long as there is life, there is hope.
I loved both characters! Sabaa Tahir was able to intricately construct their pasts in a way that formed who they grew up to be. I loved Laia’s hopefulness, how she was able to power through the toughest of tasks for a chance at her brother’s freedom. Faced with the wrath of the Commandant, she didn’t let what would have been seen as an impossible task stop her from getting the information she needed. Elias is a soldier, the top of his class at the distinguished Blackcliff Academy. As the story unfolds, we begin to unravel the pieces in order to see who he really is. Elias is a caring, sweet gentlemen who believes in doing the right things. I really enjoyed seeing him stand up for himself. Despite his family and training, he saw that that was not who he was. He didn’t enjoy being a ruthless killer. As the story unfolds, we experience his struggles and think how we would act if we were in that situation.
“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be. Too much fear and you’re paralyzed. Too little fear and you’re arrogant.”
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes. What I enjoyed most were the two differing character arcs that the author created. I highly recommend that if you haven’t yet read this book, you definitely should!