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





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.

You know the book is going to be powerfull when the villain is super hateful!…..and you love the villain.
No i am not talking about ones where villain is some super-hot looking dude and hence you like it but “voldemort” level of villain where in you hate the villain so much that he/she makes it to your “favourite villain” list! Like this guy here:


This book is really good! The plot was fantastic, the story pace was just perfect, the execution of the plot was up to the mark and the characters had so much depth to them.

A story of a girl, who agrees to be a spy, in order to free his brother captured by the bad guys! yup, what can go wrong with that plot?…nothing!

There are so many characters here; leads as well as supporting ones, all of which are super interesting and have a backstory you would love to explore even more, and none of which feel like a ornamentation to the plot. They all are mentioned for a reason and do serve a purpose to the story.

Few characters I personally liked were:

Commandant: She is the ultimate villain in this book. She is hateful, and pretty much has no returning point. She is mean, cruel, cunning, calculating and she owns it.
Because ,well what else will she be otherwise? 😛
There was one point towards the end of the book where in she goes to meet her son-our lead , and you think, may be she is not so bad but before you finish that thought, she goes all out and nope, she is still just as bad. No curve ball there. Now you know there is someone else who is going to play a even bigger role in coming books but this book was owned by her epic nastiness!

Marcus: Another antagonist of our story.
Now they really tried to sell this character as a bad-guy and they did achieve it but i just keep feeling that there is more to him than that and may be in next book we can see that side of him.  I dont see him doing a 180 like “warner” from shatter me series and him being the lead but i do think there is more in store for him than just being a lackey-brute who is dumb. He did make horrible decisions in this story and lost his twin ZAK (another character i really like), but you can see him clearly regretting that over and over towards the end.

Helene: She is a super girl!…she is the supporting female but she might as well have been the lead. She is badass, she sacrifices herself for the male lead, she knows how to keep secret, loyal as hell and is no damsel in distress. I love strong female leads who dont need saving and she is just that! And i see her playing a big role in Marcus’s life and though in this book i would rather she be with Elias but i know if the cards are played properly, Marcus and Helene can make one hell of a team.
Laia: She is our female protagonist. She makes a bad decision which costs her losing her brother. She decides to change that and do everything in her power to get her brother back. She goes from, powerless to fearless over the course of this book and yeah she is one good female lead.

ElIas: Our male lead. Son of the commandant, a guy trapped amongst the wrong side, who wants to flee but is in constant battle of deserting or taking his position as the next ruler. To be honest there is nothing wrong with him, and his growth as the character was just right but i wished, he had something going on for him in this story which makes him worth his title of male lead. That little extra factor seems missing. He is still the main lead I prefer, I just wish he would step up in the next book. But i loved his epic role in the climax.

There are so many other characters like IZZY, the cook, keenan, mazen, the tribe woman, the AUGURS…….all of them have so much going on in this story. All of them together makes this book super good and not just the leads.


I am definitely looking forward to the next book of this series! That end made me go in a book slump for an entire week!

Star rating : 4.5/5!


Happy reading 😀

6 thoughts on “An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir (Book Review)

    • Yes. Can’t say about the series since I m yet to read book 2-3 but book 1 was really interesting! Maybe you should finally buy it next time you go to your book store 🙂


  1. Hi! I’m really glad you enjoyed this book so much! sadly, I am not a fan, I read it some years ago and… for me it was a no even if I didn’t dislike it as a whole. I enjoyed the reading but I was expecting so much more… so I was disappointed, in some ways, and the worst thing for me was the ending: when they first published this one it was like a stand-alone, even if the author later decided to continue it like a series, so the ending is just not the right one for a stand-alone, and I was so disappointed in it that I choose to not read the other books.


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