An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

by Sabaa Tahir


Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Read More

Did you ever feel the need to actually hug a book, to hold it close to your heart?
Did you ever feel that a book was somehow meant for you? Did you ever hear its gentle call?
Because I did..

ember-laiaI love reading with a passion and there are books like AN EMBER IN THE ASHES that are absolutely perfect (In each. And every. Way!), so in sync with me, having a rhythm that matches precisely the one of my own heart.

It’s hard to put into words how much this story means to me, how much I love it. No.. I take it back, it’s not just love, I adore this book! From cover to cover, deeply charmed by each word in between, by each drop of ink on its pages.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is one of the most complex stories I’ve read lately, plot and character related. Even from the very first chapter it was mind-blowing and exquisitely beautiful and it left me with my heart aching all over – because I want more, I need more. Please tell me there will be more to this story!

I look up at the stars hanging low in a sky that makes me think I’m seeing the infinite. But beneath their cold gaze, I feel small. All the beauty of the stars means nothing when life here on earth is so ugly.

Sabaa Tahir does not sound like a debut author at all. Her writing is graceful, she takes the time to connect the characters with the readers, her descriptions are beautiful and the action scenes are powerful and aesthetically pleasing. The story is told from two different points of view and there was a very clear distinction between the voices of both main characters, not to mention that their inputs in the story were necessary – they both had so much to say, so much anguish in their lives, so much to fight for.

The love story is sweet, though it’s not the main focus of the book, it builds up slowly and tastefully, and it shapes the characters, strengthening their goals. But this story is also (or well, more) about loyalty and even deeper kinds of love, along with the actual romance.. which is just beginning (barely stepping outside the friendship borders).

Laia lives for the promise to save her brother, to have him back again and, in the process, to free her heart of all the guilt that crushes it. She would do anything for him, she would risk everything and she won’t stop no matter what. The cost of her actions has no price when measured agains the pain of losing him forever.

Life is made of a million moments that mean nothing. But the moment Darin called out – that moment meant everything. It was a test of courage. And I failed it.

ember-eliasElias lives for the dream of reaching his own kind of freedom (of body and soul), as he longs to leave it all behind, to take life in his own hands, away from the Empire.

They are so different and so alike, two broken pieces of a terribly broken world, sharing the same moral values.

But nothing is ever easy and each choice opens doors to more choices and torment and, in the end, they need each other to survive, even when the odds are against them and their chances of survival are slim.

I appreciated the relationships with their friends (the fondness, the loyalty, the guilt), their inner struggles, their dark pasts and the need for things that were bigger than themselves. I felt their despair, their shame, their grief, and I was grateful for their bravery.

You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Verturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You can’t stop it.

The side characters are extremely well developed and even the smallest actions speak volumes through the story. I was very fond of Helene and Izzi, because they are just as strong as Elias and Laia. But even the villains are perfectly fleshed out and they leave an imprint on the paths of our leading characters.

I can’t say much about the story, because it is still too soon, but I loved the wonderful and vivid world created, with the fight between the Empire and the resistance, the trials and the fantasy elements; I loved the meetings between our main characters (especially a very cute dancing part AND an unexpected prize, the following conversation); their ties to their friends; the mind-blowing, head-spinning turnarounds.. It’s not a thin book by no means, but it took me no time to finish reading it, as it is full of awesomeness and time really flies when you enjoy what you read as much as I enjoyed this story.

Now… What I wish for is to see the story end. To get the answers for all those many questions in my head. To see how their journey unfolds next. I hope to hear soon some news regarding a potential sequel, because it would be such a shame to only have half of this astonishing story.


There’s going to be a lot of hype around this book, rest assured that it fully deserves it – each praise, each 5 stars rating, each recommendation.

I am honoured to share and celebrate my birthday along with this book’s launch!
I’ll consider it a very early present and it will always hold a special spot in my heart.

And I was not kidding about the hugging part, when I received this book I spent half an hour hugging it, petting it and hoping to love it to pieces. My happiness has no boundaries, because I loved it that much and then some more.

Early review: I won an ARC in a giveaway. My life is now complete. Thank you!

PS: Pictures roughly edited from the posters of both Rome & Spartacus TV series.
PSS: Quotes taken from the ARC, might change in the published edition.

“An Ember in the Ashes” Book Trailer:

« »


30 responses to “An Ember in the Ashes”

  1. I actually have a copy on its way right now, so I hope to read it very soon!

  2. Lis @ The Reader Lines says:

    I AM DYING to read this book!! Seriously! After this review it’s like the book I want the most this year! (well, after The Raven King). I’m SO glad you loved it.
    And wow! you were so lucky to won it! Congrats!

    • Ari says:

      You, sweet Lis, remember the talk we had about me being scared that my enthusiasm could set the bars too high for others?
      I still fear that, but I really loved this story. It was complex, so much happened, relationships were multilayered, you never know whom to trust, you never know the result some actions can have.
      It makes sense that it took the author years to write and research this story, because it is really well done. And I hope that everyone will love it.

  3. bookwormdreams says:

    This book is on my tbr for ages. I loved that it’s set in Rome-like world. I am so glad you liked it. And I hope I will be captivated by complex world and characters as much as you and that have all those wonderful feelings too. 🙂

    • Ari says:

      I truly hope that too!
      I’ve read 3 great fantasy, historical-alike stories lately, but this one was somehow my favourite. I loved the pacing, the development of characters and plot and it left me actually begging for more. Fingers crossed for you to enjoy it too!

  4. kay says:

    Okay, I was already very interested by this one, but your review really sold it to me! I love stories inspired by Ancient Rome or inspired by it, this sounds right up my alley.

    • Ari says:

      I was curious about that too, after all the Roman Empire is part of my country’s history and I wanted to see which elements would be inserted into the story to give it that vibe. Some are subtle, some are part of the world development.

      I’ve been waiting for this book for a while and I was so happy to get my hands on it. It was everything I wanted, though I didn’t know much about the plot when I started reading it. Hopefully there will be a sequel and soon, because I need to see how things progress from there. It could also make a great action movie… if it gets to production (then again, I’ve been waiting for Legend since before reading the books, still it might never become a movie).

  5. herondale says:

    I really love this book… The plot, character, the complicated romance, the villain, everything is just perfect.. I cant believe this is her debut novel. She’s really talented author.. I’m dying to read the sequel. I’m dying to see the movie

    • Ari says:

      I couldn’t agree more! It’s all true and I love everything about this story. A movie it’s a must, because I can’t let go of this, as for the sequel – Sabaa HAS to write one, I won’t settle for anything less.

    • Osiris says:

      THERE IS A MOVIE??!!

      • Ari says:

        There might be, so they say. Now, I’ve heard about plenty of books that were supposed to come out on the big screen but didn’t, so let’s keep our fingers crossed for this one.

        • Osiris says:

          yes, the book is AMAZING, but the movie would be very interesting… probably rated R tho

          • Ari says:

            I don’t know about that either, as they might want as many teens to go and see it. We don’t have this kind of ratings here, so I won’t even pretend to understand their way of thinking – because no matter how you put it, if people can read about it, they surely are perfectly able to see it on the big screen.

    • Osiris says:

      There will be a sequel, it will come out in 2016. CANT WAIT

  6. Read this book 2 weeks ago and I literally cannot stop thinking about it.
    It’s not just that I felt for every single character (not the Commandant, she was a b**** and deserves to die a slow death) or the wonderful lyrical writing style; but that grand perfect world building left me speechless.
    This book was epic and I don’t care what the author says, SHE’D BETTER WRITE A SEQUEL or else!!!!!!!

    • Ari says:

      What can I say, for me too this book was perfect in each and every way. I loved the struggle of the main characters, I loved just how bad (in such a messed up way) the Commandant was, I loved the writing, the plot, the side characters.. well, I loved everything about it! And I am holding my breath for a potential sequel, hopefully I won’t turn blue before I get to read it ;))

    • Osiris says:

      She is writing a sequel and it will come out in 2016, Mazen was a b**** also, selling out Laia as i am like “u go girl beat him!!”

  7. Osiris says:

    I have read this book twice and almost cried when Demetrious died. Kept me in the edge of my seat, I have a Minecraft skin of Laia, thank the skies that there will be another one in 2016

  8. This book was PERFECTION. It is my FAVORITE of the year so far because I’ve just been so blown away that I can’t even. I just can’t. I need that sequel ASAP. And also the movie. I need both of them. NOW.

    • Ari says:

      I know the feeling because I am just the same.
      It was my special birthday book and I loved it to pieces, I am so happy that a sequel is on it’s way and I can’t wait to find out about how the movie process is going. I need more of this story, I need it now!

  9. Lai H. says:

    i read it about a three weeks ago know and i just can’t stop thinking about it yet, such a good book!
    i definitely need the second one now.

    • Ari says:

      Imagine how I felt when I finished reading it and everywhere it was said that the book was a standalone. I couldn’t believe it and I was right to think so ;)) I really can’t wait to read about their new adventures, I can’t wait to have the next book in my hands and devour it all.

  10. zolidiasanver says:

    Hi! II just wanted to say that I loved your review. I just finished an ember in the ashes and completely agree with your opinion about the book

    • Ari says:

      Thanks, I am happy to hear hat you liked this story too. I fell in love with it from the synopsis&cover and reading it has only made me love it so much more ;))

  11. Lady jabberwock says:

    You seem genuinely happy about this book 🙂 just as I am. It is nice to read you, we can feel, so clearly how this book mattered to you. I can’t way either to read the next one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover more from Reading After Midnight

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading