September 03, 2016

REVIEW| An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
Sabaa Tahir



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.


The Cover:
I am so glad for this cover change, the UK hardback was following in that trend of minimalistic fantasy cover. Thankfully, HarperVoyagerUK managed to get their hands on the US cover and put the go-ahead to use it. Thankfully.


Of course, I liked it but, it just didn't appeal to me. I wanted that beautiful scene, the gold and bronze tones that reflect Tahir's influences of Ancient Rome. And the magical book cover fairy granted my wishes- seeing as I am just to cheap to get the US hardback imported. 

I like to support UK publishers.

The Content:
I really want to give this the five stars that everyone else seems to be giving this book but, personally, I felt that it fell flat. Perhaps, it's the fact that at this moment in time I have started the sequel 'A Torch Against the Night' and the promise of maneuvering political power that is evident in slight throughout An Ember in the Ashes that left me hanging and never satisfied.

My biggest praise for An Ember in the Ashes is Tahir's the world building of Serra and the Martial empire. For a book that has claims of a world deriving from Ancient Rome-- fair play! An actual novel that left me as uncomfortable in it's brutality as in my own understanding of the brash ruthlessness of rulership in Ancient Rome. I absolutely loved it! 

What brought me to take away that star is the mellow influence of fantasy that this book falls into. I was somehow expectant of a world that magic was either outlawed or fully in power yet, it fell short of only the small hints of it here and there. That being said I did really enjoy this  mythical elements and a sense of deep heritage of story-telling that Tahir has woven into the world building. This is something that I hope Tahir takes further exploration in her world in A Torch Against the Night especially in terms of the Tribes.

My favourite quote in AEITA is "There is hope in living." It something that I really took to heart in terms of hope. This book is literally An Ember in the Ashes, that slow, deep burning glow between the fly-away ashes, indistinguishable from the rest of the books on the shelf.


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