Let’s chat about books, specifically, the book An Ember in the Ashes, written by Sabaa Tahir.
Not only does this book have 4.32/5 stars on Goodreads, but 97 percent of Google users like it as well.
An Ember in the Ashes takes place in a land called Serra, and their government is set up as an Empire, with their brutal, ruthless army soldiers called Masks. Their lowest citizens are called Scholars, and Tahir’s main character, Laia, is a Scholar. Tahir’s other main character is Elias, who is a Mask-in-training and is the best soldier the Empire has ever seen. Only, Elias hates the Empire even more than his own mother hates him.
When Laia goes undercover as the Commandant’s slave — the merciless military leader and Elias’ mother — to try and save her brother, who was arrested for treason, Elias and Laia can’t help their crossing paths.
This is a four-book series, and the first two are already out and the third is expected to join us June 12.
I’ve already read this book twice, solely because Laia of Serra is the bravest female character that I have read about. She tries to reap her mistake from the first chapter throughout the rest of the book in order to save her only family.
Think of it like this: Laia is more scared of losing her brother than of becoming a slave to the most deadly woman in the Empire. Imagine having that much love in your heart.
Laia is like no other character, ever. When reading, she feels authentic, 3D. Tahir does a wonderful job crafting this character — despite the fantasy genre, Laia’s actions are realistic and reflect the idea of a young, scared but brave character.
As for Elias, Tahir also does a wonderful job portraying a male character. Too often do I read male characters who easily show they were written by a female. While feminine male characters are completely OK and welcomed, femininity wouldn’t fit Elias’s persona.
Elias detests the Mask and Empire life but somehow seems to always get sucked into the middle of it all. The most admirable thing about this character is that he remains, above all, humble. He doesn’t want the attention of being the most deadly soldier — the one able to take a life in the blink of an eye with no one noticing.
There is a romance between Elias and Laia, and no, it is not like the problematic, master-slave trope that some people like to say. Laia is technically not a slave, and she was undercover as the Commandant’s slave, not Elias’s, and the Commandant wouldn’t hate the idea of Elias being dead. So, they’re both hated.
What is good about Elias and Laia’s romance is that it doesn’t take over the plot. The plot drives the book, not the romance. The little hints that Tahir gives is just enough to keep reading, and the ending just about forces you to buy the next book.
The cons of this book are not a lot. There are two, and one is based on my personal opinion.
Helene Aquilla is Elias’s best friend and also the only female soldier at Blackcliff Academy, where the Masks train to become official soldiers.
Now, I am all for a warrior female character, but did there have to be only one? Out of all the lands, one female made it inside? It’s not like a woman is a leader of the military or anything. More ladies, please.
The second con, though, is simply a warning.
This book includes a lot of mentions of sexual assault and one scene of an attempted sexual assault. When I first read this, I was taken aback by the regular usage of the word rape. So, if it may trigger you, beware before you read this book.
In the end, I give this book a 5/5 stars, and I hope you will, too.