An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is an interesting addition to the YA fantasy scene with its Roman-inspired dominant culture and use of lesser seen fantasy elements such as jinn and ifrit and crazy living metal masks. An Ember in the Ashes takes advantage of its dual PoV for the audiobook with two strong narrators to tell each side of the story. I know that a lot of people have loved An Ember in the Ashes, and a lot of you will, but it focused on the aspects I am less interested in and ignored the cool fantasy elements sadly.
Note: I received an audiobook copy of An Ember in the Ashes from the publisher. Listening to a book strongly influences my reading experience.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Narrated by Fiona Hardingham, Steve West
Published by Del Rey on April 28th, 2015
Genres: Dark Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 443 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and pulse-pounding read. Set in a rich, high-fantasy world with echoes of ancient Rome, it tells the story of a slave fighting for her family and a young soldier fighting for his freedom.
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.
- An Ember in the Ashes is a great book to listen to on audio. The narrators are both solid and capable of doing voices of the opposite sex fortunately. This was a recording where the choices the narrators made definitely influenced my idea of the characters and gave them an added dimension.
- The world of An Ember in the Ashes is full of awesome potential. There are jinn and ifrit in the desert carrying some serious grudges, the masks that the elite soldiers wear seem to be parasitic and bond to their faces, there is a whole lot of cool magic going on behind the scenes, and the cultures portrayed are different than the typical and therefore exciting to explore.
- There is a plethora of physically strong heroines in fantasy, especially YA, so it was nice to see characters with a more balanced array of strengths. Laia repeatedly thinks about how she is not physically strong, but shows that loyalty and determination go a long way towards making up for lack of physical strength.
- The plot of An Ember in the Ashes will keep you hooked. There are really no moments of downtime since every second Laia could be found out, or just killed because she looked at someone the wrong way. If you like your plots intense, An Ember in the Ashes is the book for you.
- I was pleasantly surprised at the twists that An Ember in the Ashes includes. Normally some of them would annoy me, but An Ember in the Ashes was able to pull them off and surprise me with Tahir’s daring in the process.
- First thing that will probably annoy some readers: there are overlapping love shapes of some indeterminate number of edges. I felt like I had whiplash from the number of directions the romantic plotl ines seem to be going.
- An Ember in the Ashes is pretty darn depressing and I just wasn’t in the mood for that tone unfortunately. Horrible things happen left and right and I kind of just wanted to throw in the towel because there wasn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Despite a couple of plot twists that I was unsure which was they’d go, An Ember in the Ashes ended up being pretty predictable and I got to a point of just wanted to get to the end because I could already see how it go.
- Remember those cool masks I mentioned that are made of living, parasitic metal? Or the jinn and ifrit freaking out in the desert? An Ember in the Ashes doesn’t delve into the magical elements of the world really at all. There were a couple of reveals about the jinn, but no answers about those masks and most of what we found out about the jinn and ifrit was from information being flung at us through storytelling. I need magic to be a focus in my fantasy!
- By the end of An Ember in the Ashes, I was left with a sense of “what was the point?” I can intellectually tell you the events that took place, but so much of what happened ended up not really mattering at all, which frustrates me as a reader.
An Ember in the Ashes is a thrilling YA fantasy with an emphasis on the horrors of evil people and lusting after everyone in sight. An Ember in the Ashes will appeal to readers that like a bit of fantasy thrown into their action and romance plots, but if you are looking to find out lots about awesome magic, you might be disappointed. Also, I had thought that An Ember in the Ashes was going to be a standalone, but it pretty much requires a second book.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.