BOOK REVIEW: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes

Author/s: Sabaa Tahir

Publication Date: April 28th 2015

Publisher: Razorbill

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 446

Purchase at: 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.


I read the book without any expectations. It’s best if you swoop into something without being revealed to its context. I wasn’t ready for the magnificence that faced me.

An Ember in the Ashes is a YA Fantasy with a pinch of Dystopian. It’s told in two perspectives, Laia’s and Elias’. Laia is a scholar, while Elias is the finest student in Blackcliff Academy. Laia’s goal is to save her brother from being imprisoned in Kauf, and Elias’ is freedom of body and soul.

The world-building is all the good in great things. It’s generic and formulated. With an ancient inspired society, Roman Empire, I think. The realm is tainted with brutality, cruelty, and darkness which made the story more intriguing. Social hierarchy is included, from the Martials down to the slaves.

Sabaa Tahir’s writing style is stirring. How she weaved the story is impressive. The book was character driven, Tahir depicted the characters’ feelings and emotions with such cleverness, it was captivating. I’ve seen no great character development yet, but I’m not saying that it’s not a bad thing since I liked how the book did not focus on the romance aspect of it. The love interest was overwhelming enough to keep me exhilarated.

An Ember left me hanging with too many unanswered questions, both regarding the past and present happenings. It was a long, intense, but fun trip!





Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.



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

  1. Oh my god, I got so excited after reading this review because the main character is named like me (I have never found another character called Laia in non-spanish literature) and now I want to read it so badly. Thanks for letting me discover through your review!


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