I received this book at no cost from the publisherAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Penguin Group USA on April 28th 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Politics & Government, Survival Stories, Young Adult
A “deft, polished debut” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), Sabaa Tahir‘s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and pulse-pounding read. Set in a rich, high-fantasy world with echoes of ancient Rome, it tells the story of a slave fighting for her family and a young soldier fighting for his freedom.
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.
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I was trying to sum up my thoughts on this one, when I was asked to describe to a friend. This is what I came up with: A sort of Romeo and Juliet story with all of the action of The Hunger Games, the magical elements of Harry Potter with some epic fantasy of The Game of Thrones just for good measure. You can also throw in a bit of the Legend series and the emotional strenght of Shatter Me. Oh, and it all happens under 500 pages. This book will leave you breathless when you finish it. And hopefully, the author (and publisher) will hear your screams demanding a follow-up.
Laia is the sort of heroine that makes you believe a ordinary girl can face her fears and be strong when it matters most. Growing up with her grandparents, she knows that her world is an evil place and they are poor, but have a considerable wealth in their family life. Her brother Darin is a dreamer and quick with a paper and charcoal to capture any image and more. When her family is raided by the Masks, who are the enforcers for the government, and her grandparents murdered, her brother is taken away and she runs. Laia ends up with the Resistance forces where she discovers the truth about her parents as fighters for them.
Elias, the Mask, she escapes from, has been trained since childhood to be an enforcer and when he runs into Laia more than once, and there is a spark, but both deny it because of the circumstances. Oh, yes, and there is a bit of a love triangle between Elias and Keenan, a resistance fighter that is Laia’s contact to the group. Laia goes undercover for the group as a slave to the Commandant of the school, and she just happens to be Elias’ mother. Now, before you think this is really convoluted and hard to follow, believe me, it is just like Shakespeare, easy to follow and with that same sort of dramatic flair.
Well, that is all you are going to get out of me, even though I am soo tempted to spill everything. Just read this! It has also been optioned for a movie and I think this has all of the same elements that made The Hunger Games and Harry Potter such a win! Parents: be aware that there is violence, language, a few sexual situations, all of which are not too graphic. Ok, the fight scenes are a bit graphic but no worse than television.
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. Come find me on Twitter or Instagram @sabaatahir, or on my web site: www.sabaatahir.com