I received an eARC of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir from Penguin’s firsttoread.com, but that in no way reflects my opinions of the novel as a whole.
Here’s the review I wrote for it on goodreads: I loved this book so much. The world that Tahir crafted was just magnificent and seemed so real. It was like I was transported straight into the world alongside the characters, who were all equally complex and engaging. And that ending. There has to be another book, at least one more, because it ends with quite a huge cliffhanger. There’s just too much story left to tell for this to be a standalone. I’ll definitely be keeping my out for news of a second book, that’s for sure. This novel is definitely for readers who love escaping into other worlds, especially ones with magic, tales of supernatural, action, betrayal, love, loyalty, and so much more in an epic high fantasy.
To add to that, I must say that this novel really played with my emotions. Laia and Elias are such strong characters, and so are other characters, such as Izzie, Cook, Keenan, Helene, Mazon, Tuluman, and even the Commandant herself (as evil as she truly is). There are plenty of other characters that stand out on their own two feet. Actually, all of the characters are multi-demenisional, even the ones that we only see glimpses/cameos of. I was fully engrossed in both Laia’s and Elias’s stories throughout, up until the earth shattering ending. Tahir truly had me thinking it was all going to end in death and destruction before completely surprising me (thankfully). My feels just couldn’t handle it if things hadn’t ended with that plot twist Tahir magically wrote at the end to get the characters out of trouble. I did foresee Mazon’s betrayal, though. I just didn’t trust him from the start… something just was always off when he summoned Laia to give a report of anything she discovered while working as spy at Blackcliff. I wasn’t surprised by that one bit.
Over all, this is the type of high fantasy that will have you glued from start to finish. It truly is a page-turner that you won’t want to put down. It’s also the type of page-turner that you’ll want to savor, or read in one sitting.
My goodreads review can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1215763966?book_show_action=falsek
Here’s a summary taken from goodreads:
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.