BOOK ONE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING SERIES
One of Time Magazine’s 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time
Instant New York Times bestseller
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sabaa Tahir
Amazon's Best Young Adult Book of 2015
People's Choice Award winner - Favorite Fantasy
Bustle's Best Young Adult Book of 2015
“This novel is a harrowing, haunting reminder of what it means to be human — and how hope might be kindled in the midst of oppression and fear.” — The Washington Post
“An Ember in the Ashes could launch Sabaa Tahir into JK Rowling territory…It has the addictive quality of The Hunger Games combined with the fantasy of Harry Potter and the brutality of Game of Thrones.”—Public Radio International
"An Ember in the Ashes glows, burns, and smolders—as beautiful and radiant as it is searing."—Huffington Post
“A worthy novel – and one as brave as its characters.” —The New York Times Book Review
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.
As one of the conquered Scholar people, Laia has grown wary of the ruthless Masks that enforce the Martial empire's laws. But the lesson doesn't hit home until Masks imprison her brother for aiding the Scholar Resistance. Desperate to save him, Laia agrees to spy for the rebels as a slave in Blackcliff, the hellish school where Masks are trained. Her mission becomes all the more dangerous when the empire's prophetic Augurs announce that, for the first time in centuries, four newly graduated Masks will compete for the emperor's throne. One of these "Aspirants," Elias, had been on the verge of desertion before he was chosen, and he only stays to compete because of the Augurs' warning that he will never know freedom unless he undergoes the Trials. Tahir's deft, polished debut alternates between two very different perspectives on the same brutal world, deepening both in the contrast. In a tale brimming with political intrigue and haunted by supernatural forces, the true tension comes from watching Elias and Laia struggle to decide where their loyalties lie. Ages 14 up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I have very little an attention span. A court of thorns and roses? Didn’t stay interested to read more after the first book. The cruel prince series? Couldn’t even finish the first book. Throne of glass? Not bad but not good enough to make me want to continue the series after the first book. A crescent city? Couldn’t even get through the iBooks sample it was so bad. From blood and ash series? FIVE STARS and I have been dying to find another book as good. Dare I say, this book kept me even more captivated. From blood and ash is still a fav but I just have to reiterate that this book is just wow. Couldn’t put it down. IT IS A MUST READ!!!!
Not a fan of Laia, but maybe that will change with the next book!
Evocative and jarring
An amazing book, one that I frequently had to force myself to put down lest I be late for work or sleep. The characters are compelling, the world is incredibly imaginative and thorough, and the action is vice-gripping. Definitely would recommend.
The only things keeping it from five stars are the intense violence and sexual tension. I’m normally fine with violence but in one of the very early chapters, one of the main characters watches from a cheering crowd as a ten-year-old gets whipped to death. While it quite successfully sets the tone of the empire, it wasn’t something I expected nor enjoyed reading. And that kind of violence continues throughout the book. If that’s your thing then dive right in, otherwise be warned. And the sexual tension, of course I love some of it, but at times I felt like the main characters were developing sexual tension between themselves and every other character of the opposite sex. It was a bit much, especially when it occurred *during action scenes*. I’m all for characters getting together, but as the wise Professor Oak once said, “there’s a time and a place for that.”
All in all a fantastic book, just a few stylistic things that weren’t really my thing. Definitely give it a go and see what you think!