(YA Review) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 7.07.59 PM

Tahir, Sabaa. An Ember in the Ashes: A Novel. , 2015. Print. ISBN-13: 9781595148032.
Formats available: hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. Hardcover $12.07. Kindle #10.99

Author: Sabaa Tahir
Published: April 28, 2015
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Themes: survival, politics, love, friendship, slavery, civil rights, freedom, overcoming expectations
Rating: 4 (or, very flipping good!)
Why’d I read it?: This books has received wonderful press and reviews and came highly recommended.

Synopsis: (from amazon)

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.


My Thoughts:

A wonderfully creative and fully realized fantasy world, with a range of characters who each have their own personal struggle to overcome within the broader overall problems of the society they live in. An Ember in the Ashes gets a lot of points for creative and unique world-building. The world these characters live in is complex and dark, and has issues that feel very “human” and real, which really causes the reader to be pulled in. I enjoyed that even though the author was obviously influenced from other familiar stories, the world she creates is unique and I didn’t feel that I had ever read another book quite like it. I very much enjoyed, also, that the book is told from alternating perspectives of a male and a female main character. Both of these characters had not only vastly different backgrounds, but their current stations in life vary greatly, as do their futures appear too. In other words, these characters are not on the same journey together, rather they are each on their own separate journeys, and just happen to have their paths cross a couple of times. We are used to getting two characters thrown together on the same journey in other books, and its easy to see why such characters would bond and relate. But Tahir takes a different approach and really keeps these two character’s personal journeys separate from each other, which makes their ability to meet and bond, and feel sympathy for each other even more touching because of how difficult it is for two such different people to relate. I really loved how different this author’s approach was to the character and relationship developments in this book. The characters are very well developed and do show growth and maturity throughout the book which feels believable. They are flawed and imperfect, as well which makes them infinitely more interesting to read about. This book started slow for me but by the middle I was hooked and the end has me eagerly waiting to see what happens next!

Liked it? Loved it? Gotta have more of it?
The next book in the series is A Torch Against the Night, TBR April, 2016.

You might also like:


  • The AEITA website includes character bios and other extras about the book and the world!
  • Here is the NYTimes Review of AEITA

About the Author:
Find Sabaa Tahir online on:


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s