An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

Book - 2015
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"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"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: Penguin Group USA 2015
New York, New York : Razorbill, 2015
ISBN: 9781595148032
Branch Call Number: YF Tahi
Characteristics: 464 p.


From Library Staff

Chapel_Hill_AmandaG Feb 07, 2016

I loved the Ancient Rome feel of this book! The main characters were a bit annoyingly naive at times, but likeable and well developed. The story is riveting and pulls you right in to this fantasy world. My main problem with the book was that it was just so depressing. I couldn't read more than 50... Read More »

From the critics

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Jul 18, 2017

I thought this was a pretty great YA fantasy debut, with the Ancient Rome-esque setting making it stand out from the crowded field of more generic-feeling fantasy settings. I found the secondary characters in this one fascinating -- I loooooved Helene, and want to learn more about both Elias' mother and grandfather -- and will be eagerly reading future installments, hoping for lots more about all of these characters. My only complaint/word of warning is that sexual violence (or at least the threat of such) is pretty prominent in this -- it feels appropriate for the world it's set in, but I just thought it was worth noting.

sarahbru17 Jul 03, 2017

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Absolutely stunning. I haven't read such an incredible book in a long time.
The plot was relentless. I was so anxious for the Elias and Laia the whole time, and the POV shifts were on-point. The stakes just kept rising, the conflict got more intense, everything just got worse and worse and it was *wonderful.*

Jun 28, 2017

Great story filled with strong characters.

Jun 24, 2017

Right at the get go, I had a very strong idea that Elias and Laia would be very strongly connected. Both had a fire inside that propelled them through life, and perhaps when they came together they would either burn brighter or out, together. To be able to inspire such thoughts really gives credit to the author, as her style of writing is truly captivating and unique. The flow is relatively nice, with changes in perspective at perfect moments. I didn't ever like Helene despite my personality being much like hers, which is really odd. Something about her was unsettling, and right to the end. But I cannot wait to read the next installment; I have a feeling it is going to be wonderfully wicked like this one.
- @Siri of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Apr 26, 2017

Interesting, but no so interesting that I'll be reading the sequel any time soon.

Still, it's worth giving a shot.

Mar 22, 2017

This is probably one of my favorite books. I love the dynamics of different perspectives throughout the book. The character, environment, and activity descriptions are amazing! It really helps bring the story alive.
I've read the sequel, A Torch Against The Night, and I think that Tahir did a wonderful job tying them together and bringing the story of Laia and Elias to an end.

Mar 14, 2017

Great storyline, but to much swearing. The profanities dominated this thoughtful novel. It ruins the characters.

Mar 03, 2017

What an incredible novel!! I was pleasantly surprised that this book was available at my local library. The story takes place in a fictional setting and is based on ancient Roman society, most likely the first or second century. Reading the book, I felt like it is a combination of The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, and the horrors of ISIS. Even though I am a slow reader, I was able to finish the book in just over two weeks which is very impressive considering it is 456 pages. The plot is very intense and I was appalled at the amount of violence. However, I loved that in the midst of all the brutality, the two main characters are still clinging to hope which keeps the story moving along very fluidly. I also liked the power struggles and the whole concept of sacrificing ones allegiance to rebel against unjust authority, which is very attractive considering the current state of political affairs. I very much look forward to reading the second book.

Dec 02, 2016

I rated it 3 stars on Goodreads, but my actual rating is 3.5 stars; the first half was a 3 for me, the last half a 4. It’s a good book – not the best – but still good. I do believe it’s overhyped. I really liked the writing, but it took me awhile to like the characters and world to the same degree. The first 75 pages were hard to read because I didn’t like Laia and things didn’t seem to get interesting until that point. I liked both perspectives Laia and Elias provided, but I still don’t 100% connect with Laia like I did Elias – I just find her character annoying and tedious. Every time Laia would beat herself up for being a coward, for not being like her mother, here’s me saying it’s okay to run away and be a coward – I’m sure her brother wanted her to be safe, not get locked up like him. So what if you’re a coward? Accept it, move on and work on freeing your brother, not dwelling on the past.

The romance between Elias and Laia as well as Laia and Keenan wasn’t really believable because they didn’t spend a lot of time together. There’s actually this love square? going on so Laia has two love interests and Elias has two. Helene and Elias made sense together because they’ve known each other for years, it’s the best-friends-fall-in-love trope that Tahir makes work. The same cannot be said for Laia’s love interests. The reader gets more time with the characters than they do with each other. That paints an illusion, so it seems like they’ve had enough time together, but I’m sure if you add it up it’s lower than expected. I predict in the sequel they’ll be spending more time together so that’s when I’d actually expect romance to happen.

I really liked the way the author made the past surrounding Laia’s parents and the Commandant so mysterious – I can usually predict things like this, but I’m still thinking through theories about them! The nervousness surrounding Cook was especially interesting. All those secrets is the main reason I’ll be reading the sequel – Tahir makes me want to know.

I really liked the trials – the third trial was especially hard to read, so I commend the author for being able to create such an impact. I could imagine these scenes so well and they were fantastic to read. I’m not as in love with the world as I’d like to be – I always need magic and fantastical elements, so only seeing a hint in the last half wasn’t enough for me. The world is dystopia and fantasy, which is an interesting mix, but I still need that extra bit of fantasy. World-building is a big thing for me, so I wish the author had shared a bit more of where the Martial Empire came from along with details of the 500-year old rule over the Scholars. The Tribes were also a bit confusing – are they bound by Martial rule, can they be made slaves like the scholars? The world-building is strong though so I’m excited to read more about that in the sequel.

Finally, something I feel really strongly about is how casually rape was mentioned. It felt like just a four-letter word, not something that has a deep impact on people. Yes, the author’s world is meant to be cruel and is inspired by the Roman Empire, but you still need to show that things like rape are more than a four-letter word. It’s said and insinuated too much, without the impact and discussion that should follow.

I’m planning to read the sequel, but it might take awhile for me to get to it. For those who have read it, I’d love to know your thoughts!

Aug 09, 2016

This book has a 'desert battle camp with extreme torture' kind of vibe to it. ANd the main characters are basically the same person, but the genders. Truly, this book has so many complex characters and feelings. But in the end, it teaches us the value of freedom.

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Jul 29, 2017

blue_dog_8329 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 14, 2017

siu_pei thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

sarahbru17 Jul 03, 2017

sarahbru17 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jun 03, 2017

wangbal28 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Feb 12, 2017

nimchuk thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Jan 27, 2017

Pipthekat thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Dec 02, 2016

akzfineart thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Nov 11, 2016

black_pony_62 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jun 03, 2016

Peep1900 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

green_alligator_2498 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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Add a Quote

Aug 06, 2016

Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be

Aug 06, 2016

There will be so much more in between. So much uncertainty. I don't know if we'll survive the catacombs, let alone the rest of it.

But it doesn't matter. For now, these steps are enough. These first few precious steps into darkness. Into the unknown.

Into freedom.

Aug 06, 2016

Where there is life, Nan used to say, there is hope.

Aug 06, 2016

Fear can be good, Laia. It can keep you alive. But don't let it control you. Don't let it sow doubts within you. When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible, to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.

Aug 06, 2016

There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that's a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It's damaged but it's there. Don't let them take it from you.

Aug 03, 2016

Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.

"'You have a soul. It's damaged, but it's there. Don't let them take it from you, Elias.'"


Add Notices

Jun 03, 2016

Sexual Content: Rape mentioned often but never shown or even in background

Jun 03, 2016

Violence: Slightly Descriptive deaths and whippings and torture

Jun 03, 2016

Coarse Language: S once, w, d, h, p, a, and b, all multiple times


Add a Summary

A young girl has her brother taken from her and she is willing to do anything to get him back. She joins the rebellion in hopes that they will help her. She is sent to be the slave of a cruel master. She struggles to survive and pass on the information to the rebels. Will she save her brother in time?

LibraryK8 Jun 11, 2015

In a world inspired by ancient Rome, Laia is a Scholar, a member of a conquered people who were once the greatest minds on earth. Laia ekes out a living making jams with her grandmother, while her brother and grandfather provide health care to the needy. Until one night when her brother is accused of spying on the Martial Empire for a rebel group. Laia’s grandparents are murdered in front of her face and her brother is thrown in prison. Laia only escapes this fate buy running away. Ashamed of how she has behaved she tries to barter with the rebel group for her brother’s freedom. But they ask for a price that could mean her life, spying on the greatest military academy in the kingdom.
Meanwhile Elias is about to graduate from that same military academy. Most of his classmates are elated to have survived (not everyone does) and are eagerly anticipating the freedom that military service seems to be in comparison to the strict rules of the school. Elias, however, is looking for a truer and longer lasting freedom. He plans to escape the school, and military service on the night of the graduation ceremony. Until he is selected as a candidate to be the next emperor. Now he has to compete in a series of games, against his friends, that will determine the next emperor, and cost the losers their lives.

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