As a child growing up in the desert, I was picked on and often felt like an outsider in my isolated home town. This made me feel both voiceless and powerless. My primary solace was reading, and my favorite books to read were fantasy novels.
Eventually, I found my voice through writing. When I decided to write a novel, my childhood inspired me: I knew that the book would be a fantasy because I’d always loved fantasy novels. And I knew that the characters would be people who, like my younger self, felt uniquely voiceless. But unlike my younger self, these characters would speak out and fight back. ― Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes
I loved An Ember In The Ashes a lot. This book was my most anticipated book of 2015 and I can proudly say that it is now one of my favorites.
So let’s talk about the world. Basically, the world is divided into two social classes. We first meet Laia who is a Scholar. Now, the Scholars are very poor and are often enslaved by the Martials. The Martials are a military force who overrule the Scholars. the male protagonist, Elias, is a student at the Military Academy, Blackcliff and he is trained to be a mask. During their training years, the students are obligated to wear masks. But those masks aren’t normal masks. By wearing it, the mask molds to its carrier and takes over their personality to form them into perfect students.
As the female protagonist’s brother is arrested by the Martials she convinces the Scholar’s underground movement the “Resistance” to help her free her brother. But in order to get them to help her she has to go on a mission. Laia’s mission is to spy on the Commandant as her slave in Blackcliff.
And let me tell you, the Commandant is a complete bitch and sociopath.
While Laia tries to find the courage to complete her mission, Elias wants to desert. He has everything planned but at the night of graduation an Augur approaches him and tells him that he won’t have the kind of freedom he wants if he deserts.
Now, Augurs are these kind of holy men who know basically everything, can read thoughts and guide the kingdom when it is in the need of help.
In the beginning, Laia wasn’t a typical heroine but a scared girl going against her evry instinct to save her brother but during the story she developed so much more than I thought she could and even though she was kind of badass in the end, she wasn’t fearless and less vulnerable than before. Elias was the introvert rebel who’s only wish was to escape his life as a soon-to-be-mask.
I loved the two characters a lot and they were perfectly balanced. Even though the book was written in dual point of views it still was very intriguing as some books with dual POVs tend to get boring.
It felt like there were two different stories in one book or world and the timing of when they met was perfectly calculated as they didn’t meet instantly but the reader knew at the same time that they were going to meet. There was a love triangle in the book which worked perfectly for me. The only struggle I went through was that I didn’t know which couple I loved better.
The best thing and most important thing was for me that Sabaa Tahir focused on the world and on the main plot rather than the romance.
All in all, I’d recommend this book to everyone who loves a good fantasy with the perfect amount of romance and a mind-blowing back story.
It’s definitely worth the hype.
Compelling, fast paced and intriguing.
Overall Rating: 5/5