December 13, 2019 by TinyNavajo
An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
*Published August 29, 2017*
I had been meaning to read this book for forever if just so I could read A Reaper at the Gates because that cover art is BEAUTIFUL! So, I’ve finally read it and I’m so awed by the book!
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’m a bit of a sucker for enemies to friends tropes in writing, and friends to enemies tropes in writing and this book and this series has it in spades. Laia is a Scholar, an enemy to the Martial Empire and part of a people who are not allowed to learn. Elias is Martial, and one of the elite Martials, a Mask; trained since he was young to enforce the rule of Martial Law.
When they first meet, they are on almost complete opposite sides of this conflict. Laia is spying on the General, who also happens to me Elias’s mother. Elias is seeking a way out of his life, a life he wants no part of whatsoever. As they continue throughout their stories, we can see how one’s actions influences the other in some way, either directly or indirectly. And we can also see what happens when they start to grow into the characters we need them to be for this story to grow.
What I most enjoyed about this book was seeing how much Laia and Elias change in this book. They are set up as one way, then as they have hardships, things happen that should not be happening and they are set up almost as opposites, they grow and change and start to take a proactive move in their environments, rather than reacting to their environments. And I have read up to A Reaper at the Gates, so I know how much they continue to grow and change and focus on getting the information they need.
Overall, this is a great book and a great start to a series that I’m enjoying thus far. Now, what do you like to see a character do throughout a book? Do you want them to change, and in what ways do you want them to change? Comment below and let me know!