Release Date: April 28th 2015
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Politics & Government, Young Adult
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and pulse-pounding read. Set in a rich, high-fantasy world with echoes of ancient Rome, it tells the story of a slave fighting for her family and a young soldier fighting for his freedom.
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.
This is a tough book to review for many reasons, but the biggest problem is not knowing whether or not this is going to be a series. Based on the story, I’m assuming there will be other books but it seems as though there is so news for a sequel. In any case, this review is written thinking there are going to be more books.
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is clearly very well-thought-out. The story is complex and has multiple layers of depth that all contribute to making the world what it is-and what a wonderful world it is. And let’s make it clear I’m talking about world building here, because the actual world is far from wonderful. It is a gritty, no holds barred, brutal world the characters live in, and I appreciated that the plot reflected that, even if a few things made me uncomfortable. View Spoiler »Rape is not uncommon in this world, and it is somewhat frequently brought up. « Hide Spoiler
Speaking of the world and plot, I really liked the backstory and detail given, although there could be a bit more explanation on why things they way they are, the workings of the main setting of Blackcliff Academy is well defined. This is a world and story that has huge potential, which is all the more shame if this does not turn out to be a series. So much is built up for multiple books and if this really is a standalone I don’t get it.
The characters were great; Elias and Laia were well fleshed out, but I did have a hard time really caring for Laia so I felt somewhat of a disconnect to the story. There is a wide variety of side characters, each with different personalities and goals, but I think everyone needed a bit more character development, there didn’t seem to be a lot of growth, in my opinion.
AN EMBER IN THE ASHES takes somewhat of a different approach to romance, where Elias and Laia each have their own love interest from their current lives before the two cross paths. Some have been calling this a love square but I don’t think this is really the case. At least, I didn’t mind it or find it annoying at all. The romance does not take center stage anyway, because there are much bigger things to worry about.
It seemed like more time was spent on trivial things like roaming around Blackcliff and daily chores than the big plot events. View Spoiler »The Trials went by way too fast! « Hide Spoiler But when stuff was going down, it was pretty damn awesome, I was like heck yes I’m totally in this is so great!
All in all, I liked the book. I would definitely recommend it despite some of the issues I had, and would love to see a sequel.