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. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
In a lot of ways, the style of writing and overall story-telling reminded me of “Throne of Glass” although the stories are not all that similar. I loved the intrigue and hidden depths to everything that really kept me on my toes while reading it. I blew through the book in just 2-3 sittings. The world of “An Ember in the Ashes” is harsh and quite complex. As more history was revealed, I certainly became more intrigued and I’ll be curious to see where future stories go.
My one complaint is that I never felt completely connected to the characters, which kept this from being a 5-star book for me. I never completely felt like I had a good grasp of who I should be paying attention to and who was only a side character. Even though we alternated narrations between Elias and Laia, I didn’t know if they were the heroes or anti-heroes. Don’t get me wrong, in some sense that makes then fantastic characters, but it also meant I didn’t feel quite as emotionally invested. Also, we certainly have some blooming potential love triangles / quadrangles!
Warning: Contains repeated violence.
Rating: 4 stars!
Who should read it? Fantasy fans looking for something challenging and a little badass!
Want to read the whole series?
- A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)
- Untitled (An Ember in the Ashes #3)