Sunday, August 28, 2016

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabba Tahir + Giveaway

Summary: 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 (Via

Pages: 446

Release Date: April 28th 2015

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


I had no idea what to expect with An Ember in the Ashes. While I had heard countless individuals rave about it, I was always hesitant to start it. I am not a huge fan of fantasy books so I was worried I would not enjoy it as much as everyone else. I finally decided to start An Ember in the Ashes because, not only did I get an exclusive San Diego Comic-Con edition at Comic-Con last month, I also got an ARC of its sequel, A Torch Against the Night. I also met the charismatic Sabaa Tahir again at Comic-Con which prompted me to pick up An Ember in the Ashes. I met her several times during the course of Comic-Con and she was so sincerely nice every time I saw her.

Nonetheless, I absolutely loved An Ember in the Ashes. Sabaa Tahir's writing and storytelling was so addicting and rich that it was nearly impossible to put down. The story was enchanting and its characters easily found a way into my heart. An Ember in the Ashes had me questioning the true definition of loyalty and love. I see a big future for these books, I would highly recommend jumping on this band-wagon. There is no doubt in my mind that this book will be on my favorite book list of this year. If A Torch Against the Night is as good or somehow better than An Ember in the Ashes, this series and Sabaa will be added to my favorite series and author list. 

One of the reasons I preferred An Ember in the Ashes over other fantasy novels is due to Sabaa's world building. She gradually immerses her audience into the world. She tells her readers what they need to know when it is appropriate to the story. She is not trying to speak another language to us, she is teaching it to us. You are not entering a new world, it is being constructed before your eyes.

I have a giveaway for a signed San Diego Comic-Con exclusive copy of An Ember in the Ashes and a signed ARC of A Torch Against the Night that you can enter below. My spoiler section of this review will begin below the giveaway section.

To Celebrate San Diego Comic-Con 2016, 
Enter to win:
A Signed SDCC Exclusive Copy of An Ember in the Ashes &
A Signed ARC of A Torch Against the Night
(More SDCC Giveaways here)

  • You must be 18 years or older, unless you have a parent's permission
  • This giveaway is only open to those with a U.S. mailing address (Sorry INT followers)
  • Once contacted, the winner will have 72 hours to respond with their address, or a new winner will be chosen
  • STARTS August 23rd, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. EST 
  • ENDS September 24th, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. EST

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any lost or damaged packages

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

At the moment, my favorite character is Helene. I admire that she is the under-dog of Blackcliff. No one expects her to be a fierce warrior, everyone underestimates her. While that fact has driven Helene mad throughout her career at Blackcliff, it has given her an advantage over her opponents because they do not expect her fighting ability. I also admire her loyalty to Elias, she would do anything to protect her best friend. In addition, I love Helene's trust in the supernatural. Although Elias did not believe in Augurs, Helene wholeheartedly trusted them and put Elias' life in danger because she trusted their visions. She trusted that her oath to them would keep him alive.

While Helene is my favorite character, she is also one of the main problems I had with the story. I disliked that she seems to be the damsel-in-distress. She is hyped as being the third in their graduating class, yet she is constantly being injured and showing weakness in the first couple trials. While Elias' fear does slow him down, and it does not stop him at the end, her fears petrify her so much that that she stops fighting and gives in. I liked that Elias eventually suffered an injury during the second trial. He needed Helene's aid and that became the point in which she seemed to be claiming her spot and became an equal to the guys. While I love Helene's character, Sabaa could have used Helene's character throughout the entire novel as an inspiration and empowerment to other women. Instead she let Helene become dictated by her fears. Helene is a great role model, but I wish she could have been empowering throughout the the entire book. I am interested to explore her power of healing as the series progresses. I want to learn her limits and how the drain of life it causes her impacts her health.

Although Elias told us what he and Laia will try to do, go north and rescue her brother, I am interested to see what A Torch Against the Night brings. I am assuming we will have chapters from Helene's perspective since Sabaa said that there are three narrator voices: one for Laia, Elias, and Helene. In the audio book of Ember, each narrator had their own chapters so I am assuming that means Helene will have her own. If that is the case, I am excited to be in Helene's head and hear her thought process. I hope that Laia and Elias will eventually defeat Marcus so Helene can join forces with them. I am curious, if Marcus dies, can she join her friends? Will she be expected to continue serving as Blood Shrike or will she be forced to take the throne? I am assuming if they take out Marcus they will destroy the Empire; however, their goal is not crushing the Empire at the moment, so I hate that Helene will have to serve under Marcus and hunt them down.

I am not really sure who I ship at the moment. While I really want Helene and Elias to be together, I would settle for their old friendship, but I am not sure if they can ever return to that state after everything that has happened and what is yet to come. I would be fine with Elias and Laia being together, but I just do not ship Keenan and Laia. I felt as though their relationship was too rushed. It felt like instant love, but Elias and Laia's relationship is not perfect either, they had instant-lust. I also did not enjoy Keenan as a character, there is just something off about him. It might have to do with the fact that his character was so flippant with the instant love. One minute he hated Laia and the next he loved her. I like love-hate relationships but this was too rushed. Typically, I am bias and absolutely love ginger characters, but I could not make myself like Keenan. But, we still have at least three more books in the series so I could change my mind. Please comment below with your ships, I am interested to see who ships who.

I am curious if we will ever discover who is the Commandant's spy within the Resistance. When Laia went to tell Mazen about the secret entrance she discovered, I had cursed her because, if the Commandant's spy was in the room, he/she would have reported back to the Commandant about Laia still being alive. However, it just occurred to me that Keenan pretended to kill her so the spy would have also reported that to his/her employee. Unless the spy was Kennan, then he would have reported back to her that Laia was alive and had sent her to Silas to trap her. Which would seem like a lot of work, but I am not quite buying the instant love, so who knows. I wonder what will happen to Cook? Since Izzi mysteriously disappeared, the Commandant will interrogate her, which could lead to her death. I am rather surprised that Cook let Izzy leave because Izzy has now put her life in the hands of Keenan, Resistance fighter. We all know how much Cook hates the Resistance. Maybe she realized Izzy would go without her blessing or she thought it would be better for Izzy than slavery.

Although I found some things in An Ember in the Ashes to be problematic, I really loved the story. It was a perfectly paced thrill ride that had the perfect balance of action and romantic tension. I am so excited to dive back into the world in A Torch Against the Night. Sabaa has created such an expansive world and cast of characters that I am excited to explore in the upcoming books.  

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