5 Star Reviews · Book Reviews

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) By Sabaa Tahir

20560137“The field of battle is my temple. The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.”



Genre: Fantasy* YA* Romance* Science Fiction.


“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.”


I have heard so much hype about how good this book is, and let me tell that it did not disappoint. NO IT DEFINITELY DID NOT! OH SO GOOD! FIVE STARS! A MUST READ! There were so many unpredictable moments that literally left me speechless. In honor of how good this book is, I’m doing a list of 10 reasons on why you should read it!

1.The title of this book.

It definitely was a PERFECT title for this book because it truly captured the overall essence. The title of the book is what initially pulled me into picking it up from the shelf. And I really appreciated how it finished off the book with a cherry on top.

2. The cover of this book.

LOOK AT THIS COVER. It is literally perfection. ❤ The golden colors make it stand out and it goes hand-in-hand with the title, so bonus points there. You could see the Blackcliff school in the back, which sets the ominous mood. And I love how the title is mentioned in the book too. Also, I don’t know if you noticed but in the letter H in Ashes is a silhouette of a guy, which is definitely Elias. It was a special surprise and who doesn’t like a surprise like that!


3. Elias! ❤

“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.”

Ah, he was super amazing as a MC. He was genuine and real compared to the other Masks. He knew from the start how he wanted his life to turn out and did everything in his power to make it happen. He was strong and courageous, can kick some major butt, and has so much good in him. Best fictional bf for sure!

4. Laia! 

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. That is your destiny.”

What a strong and dedicated MC! Laia had a significant journey to find herself and it was amazing to witness it. She chided herself for being weak in the beginning. And instead of feel sorry for herself, she changed her attitude to the whole situation. She was so persistent in saving her brother that she literally endured so much pain for the sake of family. She was so inspiring and she was a total badahh in the ending!

5. The plot.

I was a little skeptical of the plot when I read the summary because it didn’t make that much sense to me. I literally read it like five times to get the idea of it. But as soon as I started the book, I was captivated by the world I was in. It was intense and the violence was so brutal. Tahir described everything in detail; nothing was rushed at all, given it’s a 446 page book.

I really liked Helene and Elias’ friendship. She was a grounding person to him; the person that helped him retain his humanity through everything the Blackcliff’s school made him endure. There was some unrequited love going on and though I felt bad, I totally ship Elias and Laia!

Also, the Commandment was SO SO BRUTAL. For a mother, she’s a compete monster. She definitely added to the story though. I feel like she needs someone in her life to bring some humanity and love to her lol.

6. The character development.

Each character was their own person. They had their own personalities, wants and needs. There were no characters that were simply “fill-ins”, to which I was so thankful. Loved Helene, hated Marcus, felt sorry for Zak, hated Mazen, liked Keenan, afraid of the Commandment…etc. All were perfectly written.

7. The action.

A lot of the action was implied more than it was described in detail. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved it. I though it was a different and unique approach that Tahir definitely achieved.


Oh the feelings guys! I was balling in tears when someone maybe died. Felt all warm and fuzzy whenever Elias showed his sweet side. Afraid when the Commandment’s brutality was unleashed. Skeptical at the Resistance’s hidden secrets. The list of feelings goes on and on. I probably spanned at least a dozen emotions through this book, being a passionate reader and all lol.

9. The romance.

Their wasn’t major romantic moments but sometimes less is more. It was subtle enough to be properly appreciated. The main focus wasn’t the romance, but it highlighted the real one. Some people were saying a love triangle (or more correctly, a love angle) was going on and I could see where it was possible, but it wasn’t like Twilight or anything.

I loved the Moon Festival scene! Oh, and the Third Prize scene too! ❤

10. The writing.

Tahir’s writing was so good! Like really, really good. Everything flowed so beautifully. If you didn’t know, the book is in dual POV. So every time a shocking event occurred in one POV, it flowed into the next character’s in such the perfect way. I thought it was brilliant.

Sooo fellow booklovers, those are my 10 reasons. 😀 I would totally recommend this book to EVERYONE, especially YOU.

What do you think of this book? If you have read it, what are your thoughts?

*Picture and summary from GoodReads.*


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