I’ve been excited about An Ember in the Ashes ever since I read the description for it on Amazon a few months ago. The cover also intrigued me. It is aesthetically pleasing. The book has two main characters, Laia and Elias. It takes a while, but the characters eventually cross paths. Through many interactions they learn that even though they’re from different ranks in the world that they have more in common that they thought.
The book is set in a time similar to ancient Rome. There is an empire and most of the story takes place at Blackcliff Academy, which is a place that trains children to become soldiers for the empire. Laia ends up at Blackcliff as a spy after soldiers raid her home, kill her grandparents and kidnap her brother on suspicion that he is working against the empire. Laia seeks help from the Resistance, a group her parents once led, to help find her brother. Their leader, Mazen, tasks her with the mission to go undercover as a slave to spy on the leader of Blackcliff, the Commandant, and bring back information. In exchange, they will help her find her brother.
Meanwhile, Elias wants to escape from Blackcliff because he hates everything about the empire and everything that it stands for. He has plans to escape until he talks to Cain, an Augur with the ability to read minds. He tells Elias that he can’t be free from Blackcliff unless he competes in a battle called the Trials to become the next Emperor. Cain also tells Elias that if he comes in second he would be the Blood Shrike and that if his best friend, Helene, becomes Empress that she could set him free.
What I like about this book are the many twists and turns that take place throughout the novel. Just when I thought that I had the book figured out another plot twist occurred and threw me for a loop. I loved how Sabaa Tahir, the author, made the main characters relatable. Even though I would never be in either situation, the feelings that the characters experienced were feelings that I have also experienced.
I thought that the book was well written. Although, there was in a way two love triangles going on, it didn’t distract from the purpose of the novel. There was a good balance of action, mystery and romance. The romance in my opinion was secondary to the plot. I was impressed with how Tahir was able to volley back and forth between Laia and Elias’ points of view without it being confusing. The last time that I saw this method well executed was in Veronica Roth’s Allegiant. Sometimes this method can be confusing, but at the same time a refreshing change of pace.
I won’t give away any spoilers as to how the novel ends, but just know that this novel is worth reading. An Ember In The Ashes is available in our catalog.