Review: An Ember in the Ashes

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Laia and her brother grew up raised by their grandparents in the Scholar’s Quarter. The night a Mask, the elite soldiers of the Martial Empire, comes to their home, changes her life forever. When her grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother sent to prison Laia flees seeking the only people who can help her, the resistance, a group of people her family raised her to be wary of. The resistance agree to break her brother from the Martial prison on one condition: that she become their spy. Laia is sold as a slave in order to infiltrate Blackcliff, the impenetrable school in which the masks are trained. 

Elias was snatched from his loving foster family in the desert to grow up in the cruel Blackcliff school and train to be a Mask. Disgusted with his life and the Martial Empire in general Elias plans to desert on the day of his graduation but he is prevented by the appearance of the Augurs, the ancient and omniscient holy men and women of the Martial Empire. The presence of the Augurs sets in motion a series of events that not only prevent Elias from fleeing but finally force him to stand up for what he believes in. 

An Ember in the Ashes was an absolutely  fantastic book. I started a new job in August and since then I have found myself to be in a bit of a reading slump and wasn’t feeling very excited to read. Reading An Ember in the Ashes was such an enjoyable experience, my joy in reading has been restored!  I loved the way Sabaa Tahir was inspired by the Roman Empire: using their history and nomenclature to shape the world of the Martial Empire. The Blackcliff school actually reminded more of ancient Greece, particularly the Spartan Agoge more than the Roman method of training, and the augurs reminded me more of the Spartan Ephors than the Roman holymen, the augurs, on which they were named. Despite my knowledge of Greek and Roman history and mythology (I have two degrees in it!) I was surprised and delighted by the way the story developed. The thing I loved most about it was Laia’s journey throughout the novel. Laia started out afraid and for the majority of the book she thought herself to be a coward when in fact facing her fears made her all the braver and stronger. I am looking forward to reading A Torch Against the Night in the near future! 

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