Friday, February 6, 2015

Feature Friday ARC Review : An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

*Feature Friday is a meme I came up with to feature YA books that have not yet been released by reviewing them on The Tattered Page.*
*Warning: This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Pages: 464
Source: ARC

The Story:
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.
LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Rating: FOUR Gold Stars!!!

My Review: 

Holy baby Jesus! An Ember in the Ashes is Sabaa Tahir's debut novel. And I must say, what a debut. It is one of the books that makes you stay up way past bedtime to finish. By the time I finished An Ember in the Ashes, I was red-eyed from sleep deprivation and staring off into the distance in a trance of amazement and filled with a fierce desire to read more.

From the start, the premise of An Ember in the Ashes had me wrapped around its finger. A militant regime acting as a tyrannical force, enslavement of people, Rome-like setting, death, torture, suspense . . . I had to read An Ember in the Ashes

In An Ember in the Ashes we see a scared, inexperienced, non-fighter, parentless girl grow to a strong young woman who is willing to sacrifice her life to protect and save those she cares for. We also see empire's best pupil, Elias, go from wanting to run away from the ruthless empire to becoming young man who puts what is right and the needs of those who can't defend themselves before his own desires. 

The plot was fleshed out, suspenseful, captivating and heart-wrenching. Readers are given two choices of protagonists to root for. Two stories that are separate yet interlaced. Two different journeys to embark on. 

The pacing was just right. It was fast without being rushed. It was steady without being boring. Even better, the chapter switches between character POV (Laia's and Elias') didn't hinder the book's pace in any way.

Side Note: Chapter 38. Oh, chapter 38. Nearly broke me. I felt as if my soul was being wrenched from the cold body.

Character Breakdown:

Laia - Laia was a believable, relatable character. She was thrown into difficult situations and responded the way most humans would. If danger was before her, she felt fear. She had real struggles and dealt with them in a real way. Even when Laia felt weak, unable or like a coward she admitted it. She had spunk when it mattered most. But what I most enjoyed about Laia's character was her loyalty and courage when it came to family and friends. Not even the threat of torture, slavery or death deterred her from doing all that she could to help those she held dear. Simply put, Laia had me convinced she was real.

"She walks carefully, gingerly -- The Commandment must have whipped her recently. And yet she doesn't hunch or shuffle like the other slaves. The straight-backed grace with which she moves tells her story better than words. She'd been a freewoman before this-- I'd bet my scims on it. And she has no idea how pretty she is-- or what kind of problems her beauty will cause for her at a place like Blackcliff." [page 128]

Elias - Elias may be the empire brightest pupil but he wants no part of the ruthless reign. Having seen more than enough bloodshed -- and taking part in it -- and struggling with doing what is right, all Elias wants is to escape. Freedom is what he wants most. With Elias' story, readers are able to see the true test of friendship, breaking away from the mold -- a mold that is militant and has deadly consequences -- and putting others who can't stand up for themselves first.

Sabaa Tahir is an amazing writer. She paints vivid pictures with her words so readers can see and feel what they are reading. I truly hope Sabaa Tahir is asked to write more, beyond the standalone. There are so many unanswered questions. I loved An Ember in the Ashes and so will many other readers! If the book gods are listening, Penguin will give Tahir another contract to continue the An Ember in the Ashes story.

Pre-order Links:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Powells | iBooks

Meet the Author:

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California's Mojave Desert at her family's eighteen-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. 

For more information, please visit Sabaa at or on Twitter @SabaaTahir.

***Check out Sabaa Tahir's website for more information about her and An Ember in the AshesHERE

*My review on Goodreads 

Happy Reading!


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