Review – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title An Ember in the Ashes

Author Sabaa Tahir


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. 

Release Date April 28, 2015

Initial Thoughts

I’ve been dying to read this series for a while. However, I fear cliffhangers and am incredibly impatient. I literally waited until 4 days before the final book released to start the series. (For those of you who are new here, yes, that’s enough time for me to read it). I finished books 1-3 on November 27-30 and read book 4 the day it came out.

Some Things I Liked

  • Dual POVs. I loved Elias and Laia’s narration. I would definitely reread this series as an audiobook and I think the first person narration would lend itself really nicely to that. I did want chapters from Helene’s POV as well but I really enjoyed the two narrators.
  • Drama everywhere. This book is literally dripping with drama and action and I loved it. My heart was literally pounding while I read certain scenes and it had all the action that I can only assume a gladiator fight or trial would have induced during the time period of inspiration.
  • Sabaa Tahir does not pull punches. I’m fairly certain she feeds on the tears and despair of her readers but she was ruthless and I loved every second of it. This book and the series in general are not a nicely tied up happy go lucky kind of series. The emotions are raw, the deaths hurt. This was the real deal.
  • The writing. I can’t even express in words how much I loved the writing here. From the family house mottos to the mantras and even the way Elias speaks. It was all phenomenal.

Favorite Quotes

“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”

“Death before tyranny.”

“But there are two kinds of guilt, girl: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”

Series Value

It’s no secret, I already finished this series. This book was incredible and it is easily a series that I would have continued regardless of my ridiculous timeline.

Furthermore, I am definitely going to reread this series. I’d like to try the audiobooks for my reread.

Final Thoughts

It takes a lot for a debut novel to make me reconsider what my favorite book or series is. This book did that. While it might not have completely de-throned Throne of Glass, it came dangerously close. For those who’ve read my blog before, you know that I am giving this series insanely high praise. Don’t miss this series.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – if you enjoyed this book but, like me, wanted Helene to be featured in a more prominent role, definitely keep reading. This series only gets better.
  • Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen – if you enjoyed the legion and Roman inspiration in this series as well as the multiple POVs, try this series. Book 3 as well as a prequel novella are set to come out early in 2021.

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