Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1
Release Date: June 4, 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Add it: Goodreads
What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution?
For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she’s never had much of a choice.
For Elias it’s the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire’s elite soldiers. With the Masks’ help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.
When Laia’s brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.
But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.
An Ember in the Ashes completely hooked me with that synopsis. After hearing about a book set in a Rome-like world, I had my eyes set on it and I waited eagerly for its release. I’m happy to say that An Ember in the Ashes didn’t disappoint.
My favourite thing about the book was the world building. I’m a giant sucker for anything related to ancient history, and Ancient Rome is one of my favourite things ever. An Ember in the Ashes didn’t disappoint in terms of the fantasy world in which it is set. There are Martials, an Emperor, terrible laws, a segregated society… everything I wanted. The only thing I could have wished for is more. More of everything, please.
The pacing was also fantastic. An Ember in the Ashes is one of those books that you don’t realise you’re flying through until you reach the end. You could pick this one up anywhere and get hooked into the story straight away. It was such a thrilling read and I couldn’t put it down for long.
The characters weren’t, in my opinion, particularly stand-out, although they were good enough. An Ember in the Ashes is told from two points of view: Laia’s and Elias’. Laia is a girl whose brother has been taken by Martials, and in order to get him back she has to become a slave and spy on the Commandant. This is where she meets Elias, a young man who’s training to become a Mask – one of the elite. What Laia has to go through during this book is sad and, at times, horrific. I felt so sorry for her, but I loved that she kept a strong mind and stuck to what she needed to do.
As for Elias, I connected with him a lot less than I did with Laia. He’s not exactly a spoilt brat, but he’s a favourite at the Academy and this makes his life slightly easier. That said, he does have a complicated childhood and I feel a bit sorry for the guy. But overall he was just an okay character that I didn’t mind reading about, but I didn’t love either.
I’m really looking forward to the recently announced sequel (you took your sweet time, Penguin) because I want to see more of this world and the powers that the characters are just discovering. Everything has changed after that ending, so I’m interested to see where this series goes next. While An Ember in the Ashes wasn’t quite the story of revolution that I was expecting, I’m hoping the series gets more intense and in-depth as it goes on.