Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir!

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

(That line was totally stolen from the goodreads synopsis, but it got your attention, didn’t it?)

An Ember in the Ashes follows the stories of Laia, a slave, and Elias, a soldier. Laia’s life is turned upside down when soldiers arrive at her house in the middle of the night, kill her grandparents and arrest her brother for treason against the Empire, a roman like regime that has kept her people, the scholars, in repression for generations. Laia has no one to turn to, so hunts down the resistance, a group of people fighting against the Empire, in hopes they will help her get her brother back.

Elias is training to become a full fledged mask, a soldier for the Empire who wear silver masks that meld to their faces like second skins. Only Elias’ mask has never fully attached. Elias’ attends Blackcliff academy, a terrifying school for soldiers which has put students through questionably moral (and downright evil) tasks on numerous occasions, and is probably the third scariest place I’ve ever read about (the first being Aragog’s cave in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (spiders give me the creeps) and the second being the chokey in Matilda, that cupboard with spikes that naughty children get put in). All of this considered, it’s no wonder Elias wants to run away.

The resistance offer to help Laia on one condition- she become their spy at Blackcliff.

You can see where this is going, right?

Our two storylines collide.

And I love it when that happens in books.

There is also an amazing cast of characters in AEITA, such as Helene, Elias’ best friend and the only female candidate in their graduating class. Literally I don’t even know how much more I can say, because of spoilers, but she is so badass. Just wow. And equally the villain was so instantly hateable, it was amazing. Like the Commandant is on a par with Umbridge in my mind, which is incredible seeing as Umbridge has held top gun for a long time now.

And the relationships and storylines and everything were just URRGH. SO. GOOD.

I don’t even have words.

The story is set in some sort of alternate universe Roman Empire, in world that does have magic (though that doesn’t play too heavily on the story). There are multiple race dynamics and cultures and languages interplaying throughout the book, making the world infinitely richer and more believable.

There was action, romance, drama and tears and I literally couldn’t have asked for more.

I’m giving this one 4.5 ice creams!

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Even writing this review has me so hyped for A Torch Against the Night, the second book in this series, which came out in August (I really need to get my hands on it, asap!)

This review is mildly incoherent because I’m finding it hard to put into words how much I liked it. Go read it! NOW!

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