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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Release Date: 28 April 2015

Rating: 5/5 stars



Hello Darling Readers!

You may or may not have noticed that I was absent for a week on here. I began reading An Ember in the Ashes a little too late for WWW Wednesday and Book Beginnings/ The Friday 56, so I didn’t bother doing them.

A small summary of my review for this book: I honestly didn’t expect it to be this good.

Also, I’ll be switching my reviewing style up a bit, replacing Writing Style Was Beautiful/ Easy To Read with Emotion. It’s part of something I saw on The Sassy Library Fox’s blog, so you can also go check it out there!

The writing was beautiful, simplistic but still full of feeling, and I was easily able to form connections with the characters. The plot was a vicious one that made me breathless with its unpredictability.

All in all, I loved it.

Good Themes/ Underlying Messages:

  • Bravery is not the absence of fear, but rather being courageous enough to face something that scares you.
  • Don’t be ashamed of not fitting in with the norm.
  • Family is more important than blood (family meaning anyone who you choose to have a relationship with, blood-related or not)

A whole star for this category!

Interesting Story:

When I realized that Laia would become part of the rebellion, I rolled my eyes like Really? Yet another rebellion book? But I honestly should smack myself for judging so early.

She was a hesitant rebel and only joined to save her brother. They sent her to Blackcliff, the most dangerous place in the world for a rebel. But Laia’s courage made the story irresistible, that feeling of constantly walking a thin line frightening.

Elias is a Mask, part of the Empire’s most dangerous soldiers. But underneath the silver mask, he really just wants to get away from his violent surroundings. His story as an Aspirant is a little sad for me in the way how he does such horrible things to be free.

The field of battle is my temple. The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.

The plot doesn’t let up for one moment or allow you to catch your breath. There is constantly something happening and it prevents the book from becoming boring.

A whole star for this category!

Realistic Characters and Growth:

One of the first things I realized with Laia is that she was in no way your typical brave heroine. She was terrified and it had its consequences. I relate to Laia though, in the way that I am scared of almost anything. It’s that constant thought of Should I? Or shouldn’t I? What if something bad happens? But then at the end you realize that it’s worth it to take the risk. I don’t entirely like Laia yet (which is understandable for me, since I rarely like the main character in the first book) but I absolutely have respect for her.

Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. The one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after.

I started liking Elias the moment he stood up to Helene about the violence in the Empire and how it should change. It was a risky move, but it showed the good in him. I liked how he tried to fight against the system more and more as the story progressed, bit by bit breaking out of the cocoon the Martial Empire has spun for him.

I like Helene. I understand where she’s coming from, but I can’t sympathize with her actions. She’s one of the very few women with a rank as high as the one she has and will do anything keep herself alive. So, respect to her.

I felt like the romance with Keenan was a bit forced and didn’t really feel the chemistry between them. I respect him as a character, but I’m not his biggest fan. Izzy was adorable and I hope she stays alive till the end of the series. I never trusted Mazen so his actions weren’t really such a big surprise for me.

Keris was probably the most complex character in this book. Her actions were brutal and I have no love for her, but she was a woman fighting to keep her position and honor as Commandant, and I respect that. Even if she is unnecessarily and unforgivably rude to Elias. The story she told to Elias at the end was a bit eye opening, I felt, and I appreciated that.

A whole star for this category!

Fantastic World-Building:

I felt like I could picture everything the author described, from the houses to the people to the clothes. We got a visible difference between two conflicting nations and also learned how the countries surrounding the Martial Empire were doing.

The stories about the supernatural creatures were entertaining and the hierarchy in the different cultures were interesting to learn about.

The best lies come from the truth.

A whole star for this category!


This is the new category I mentioned adding.

The book determines how I connect to the characters and story. If the book is good, I’ll easily connect. But in a bad book, I can be distant from everything and not care about what’s happening.

This book made me feel everything.

I felt Laia’s fear, I felt Elias’s rage against the violence his people were causing. I was emotionally invested in this book and every time anyone came close to dying, there were tears in my eyes.

Let’s not even talk about the 3rd Trial.

A whole star for this category!

That’s it!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Till we meet again!

Xx Alexia

5 thoughts on “An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Add yours

  1. I read this a few weeks ago and I liked it quite a lot! Laia’s fear was a good change from the usual brave and bullheaded protag fantasy usually gives. It’s totally valid to be scared like she was given her circumstances. Keris is an awful person but her story an behavior kept me on my toes. Izzy was amazing and she better not die!!! And I agree with you about Helene. I enjoyed m her unwavering loyalty to the Empire and seeing her moral compass be shown. There are all kinds of personalities in this book and I’m glad you liked it too!!

    Liked by 1 person

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