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.
I enjoyed reading this book. I’m not a big fan of a Roman-esque setting but I’m familiar with it, so some terms mentioned in the novel wasn’t very alienating for me. This book has been in the spotlight for quite some time now and I think that it really deserves the hype it’s getting. It’s also been optioned by Paramount for a film, which makes me really excited.
The book was told in dual POVs, from Laia, a slave, and from Elias, a soldier. The world-building was good but I think that it’s somehow lacking because it’s kind of hard to imagine it. I think if this book is really pushed for a film, I would be able to visualize the setting clearer. Both characters have strong persona, which I really admired. Laia’s strong will to find and free his brother was one of the dominant emotions throughout the book, so was Elias’s search for freedom and justice. There was a bit of a romantic chemistry between the two main characters but I’m glad the book did not focus much on that.
Death supplants everything. Friendship, love, loyalty.
The book contains themes of violence and implied rape, which is very sensitive. I do not like the idea of women as slaves and as property but heck, what could I do? That really happened at some point in the history. Anyways, the way those issues were presented in the book didn’t really make me cringe, which is a good thing.
The book is really intense and thrilling. Every single chapter was action-packed and really enjoyable to read. It kept me on edge, but the ending… DAMN. I felt like it was kind of anti-climactic. I needed more. It was a bit of a cliffhanger. I was waiting for Laia’s ending, since Elias achieved his. And the fact that this is a standalone just made things kinda worse. UGH I JUST NEED MORE…
“There are two kinds of guilt,” I say softly. “The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose.”
Overall, the experience I had and the emotions I felt from reading this book overweighed my little issue with the ending. I would still recommend it to everyone, especially to readers craving for a fantasy/dystopian read.