An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
 Sabaa Tahir
Date Published: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
ISBN: 1595148035
Format: Hardcover
: 446 pages
Status: Read August 30, 2015
Goodreads’ Rating: 4.32
Buy it here: Amazon • Book Depository • Barnes & Nobles

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Note: This review was originally posted last August 31, 2015


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.


Defying Martial Empire means death. Trusting anyone that isn’t supposed to be trusted can also result in death. In their world any wrong move, even if you don’t move at all, will lead to death.

Laia and Elias, two different people who came from two different worlds, wants the same thing. Freedom. But little did they know that every choice they make will not only affect themselves but also the Empire itself. Love, friendship, and loyalty will be tested and they must fight to get what they want.

I have high expectations for this book because it’s somewhat related to military and all of my friends told me it was good. I was actually scared while reading the first chapter. It has an interesting introduction but I don’t like the wimpy female protagonist. That’s what I was scared about. I thought the wimpy-ness will continue all throughout the novel but oh boy oh boy it did not. It has this unique hold on me that keeps me on edge. I’ll tell you guys, I did not stay in one place while reading this. Whenever there’s something happening or whenever I’ve reached the last sentence of every chapter, I need to stand or to jump just to keep my mind sane. This. Book. Is. Intense!

I love how Sabaa Tahir explains things, but keeps the mystery intact. I also love the way she explains the reasons behind every characters’ choices. Villain or not villain, I love them all (even that one woman I want to maim).

“I will tell you the same thing I tell every slave. The resistance has tried to penetrate this school countless times. I have discovered it every time. If you are working with the resistance, if you contact them, if you think of contacting them, I will know and I will destroy you.”

Her writing is easy to get used to and I love how the POV changes every chapter. I just … love this book.

The book deserves more hype!!! It has a great cover, great plot, great world, great characters, great EVERYTHING! Definitely one of my favorite reads this year. I cannot wait for the second book.

Overall reaction:



Sabaa Tahir

Spent my childhood in the Mojave Desert, where I didn’t have cable and thus chose to entertain myself with books and radio. My parents assured me that I wanted to become a doctor, but a brief stint working in a hospital changed my mind.

I left the desert for university at 17, graduated from UCLA a few years later, and went to work for The Washington Post directly after. Five years later, I left the Post and started working on a book.

If I could be anything, I’d be a space explorer, but a cool one, like Jean-Luc Picard.

I’m represented by Alexandra Machinist at ICM.

Those are the basics. If you’re still burning with curiosity, here’s more:    

  • I’ve worked as a: Motel clerk, gas station attendant, office manager, tutor, hand masseuse (don’t ask), editor and writer.
  • If I wasn’t a writer, I’d be: Trent Reznor, obviously.
  • When I was a kid I wanted to be: A pirate or a bear.
  • Favorite music: See my music page. No, really. Go there now.
  • Favorite book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • Favorite movie: Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The Hobbit is crap in comparison. CRAP. Also, The Fifth Element. Cuz Milla.
  • Favorite TV Shows: Well, now, where do I begin. I used to not watch TV, but then got into GoT…and Scandal…and Arrow…and Outlander…and now I don’t ever get any work done.
  • I live: in the SF Bay Area where I am surrounded by awesome tech nerds.
  • Ultimate goal in life: To own a Triumph motorcycle and race around the streets of my neighborhood at midnight while hooting and hollering and terrifying the neighbors.
  • Personal motto: Music is my home. (Ok, it’s not a motto, fine.  Anyway, I stole it from an Alison Croggon book, take it up with her.)
  • Special Skills: Accents originating on the British isles. Persuading telemarketers to hang up by marketing their competitors’ products to them.  Animal sounds.
  • Most people don’t know: I’m in love with all of my characters. Even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones.

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

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