Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir

Lol I missed out on this one and instead, I went to do Wolf Hollow’s book review instead… xD me.


Name: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher(s): Razorbill
Release Date: April 28, 2015 (Feb 9, 2016 for my PB ed.)


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.

Book Cover Comments

For the edition I bought, I really love the gold contrast on the grey background. It really brings it out, and brings the title idea and concept a LOT as well. Everything is just a perfect blend. Oh and another point about the font is that it actually looks like it was carved out and filled with glowing lava hahahaha.

The Review

Lol I’ve read two books now between this review and Ember, I hope I can do something about it. And it’s 2:15am in the morning.

Ok this is not a top top read of mine, which if you guys have observed, I dump in billions of quotes of my fav. ones, but these quotes from goodreads are too good, they gotta be here.

So I saw it at the bookstore. After staring and going back to it multiple times, I couldn’t resist picking it off the shelf. Well it did look attractive, didn’t it? But I never really got into it despite buying it simply because I guess I never had much of an intention to ever read it in the very very very first place. Now let’s get into what you readers are actually look for: the review and not my blasphemy.

The book takes place is two perspectives: Elias’ perspective and Laia’s perspective. It alternates between chapters, and I like the balance we get between them. And when the author drops you off a cliffhanger at the end of the chapter and you have to wait for another chapter to pass by, oh dear.

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”

The book started off a little slow, and I believe in general, the book is indeed kinda slow paced, since it spans across only one or two weeks. Yes, it’s a fairly short amount of period, but I think the characters and the plot makes of for this, and it didn’t feel slow at all.

One thing that I kinda got disappointed with is I feel like Elias and Laia didn’t get enough intersections as I would want them to be. Tbh, before I read this book, I thought they would be insanely crossing paths, not that I knew it came in two POVs, but yea. And the romance is much of a slow burn, and I personally look for more romance, which is not the main main focus the book is putting on. Lol me.

“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.”

I find the story of Elias and the trials that he has to go through because of his destiny (trololol) is absolutely brutal. I definitely see where the ancient Roman influence is coming from, and oh my dear lords it is terrible. Elias has to go through a great deal of trauma and experience to get to where he is now, and the agony of the crossroads of life, what he will choose and betray, even if it means saying goodbye to some of his closest ones. Elias’ desire to be free of his military academy wouldn’t be something unexpected, I would say, but his decision because this creature-ma-jig-forgot-what-his/her-name-is, ah, Cain, part of this race who can read minds and foresee the future, summed up his life in a few words if he chose which path (lol). It just reminds me when a person is on the brink of something, they would hold on to even a little bit of hope to live on.

Ok are we ready for roll credits?

“You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.”

Then we have Laia. One thing I really like is that Laia and Elias start off completely differently, and while I’ve been preferring and reading YA novels that has the girl based on the heroine, I like how this book balances the two, which is what I’m hoping for instead of having the heroine take over everything, and then the hero is in 2nd place, lol me. So in order to rescue her brother who is in faraway prison, Laia infiltrates her enemy’s lair as a spy, and ooo my dear gods above her life is as nasty as Elias. She might not have to kill, but the things and tests that Laia has to go through everyday in order to continue her position as a spy and in order to save her brother is nasty. And by nasty, I mean it literally. Another point goes to “inspired by Ancient Rome.” Laia’s story is special in the sense that she goes through much more torment facing the person she’s spying on, her companions around her, as well as those who might potentially betray her, and that is also what makes Laia strong in the end: because she goes through all of them.

Ok round two of roll credits.

“You are full, Laia. Full of life and dark and strength and spirit. You are in our dreams. You will burn, for you are an ember in the ashes.”

I should stop referencing to CinemaSins.

And all these quotes are here today because this book is truly inspiring. Inspiring what? Inspiring for people to continue living even though they have to go through millions and billions of hardship. That’s right, Elias and Laia proved to us that even though they might have power, life just isn’t smooth.

“Nan always said that as long as there is life, there is hope.”

I really enjoyed the other characters, especially the complexity of the villains, and the blurred lines between your alliances with the betrayers. Why yes, who should you trust, and who shouldn’t you trust? (geez Joanne this sounds like a to be or not to be question)

Though I dilly-dallied with this book so much, as in
*gets distracted by social media devil named Twitter*
*gets back to reading*
*more Twitter*,
at maybe 75% of the book, things start reaching their climax and it gets so exciting, I couldn’t really put down the book.
*life activities makes me put down the book and do other stuff*
And the ending is indeed magnificent, so I definitely can’t wait to see how the sequel will turn out, how more of this cruel world will show us how Elias and Laia will burn brightly in their own way.

“Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be.”


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Joanne Lumiere

Joanne is the narcissistic founder of her book blog, Joanne Lumiere. Born and raised in Hong Kong, this 18 year old brat is currently attending college in Los Angeles, and still doesn't know how to read books with sophistication, and yet she runs a blog.

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