Discussion Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes

Behind 464 Pages

Released: 27 April 2015

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Publisher: Harper Voyager Australia

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At the Other End:

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.

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.


Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her family.

Find Sabaa: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram



Welcome to the first part of our discussion review of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir!


This discussion review is with the lovely Gina from Behind the Pages.


My rating: 4.5


Kristy: So, your thoughts on the book? I really liked it. What a horrible, horrible world! It is full of despair and terrible people, but I loved every second of it. And the book certainly doesn’t shy away the violence that is ingrained in this world, including sexual violence. I think that this aspect may turn some people of the book. I fear there are people who aren’t going to like this book due to the reference to rape.


Gina: I loved it, actually. But *see spoiler section*

That’s true. But it can go by with others because it doesn’t actually go into detail and no one actually gets raped; just states that this person wants to rape this person and threaten them. It is included, but it’s not overpowering in the way that it would turn people off the book.


Kristy: I don’t mind the mention, threat or attempted rape being a part of this story, It rang true for the environment they were in. It would be a real risk, a real possibility, a real threat. But people can sensitive about this topic and won’t like the constant threat of it weaved into the book.


Gina: I know what you mean! Especially because there were slaves and it would have happened constantly, so it just made it all the more real and scary.


Kristy: I like the fact the threat of rape wasn’t covered up - it was real for this world and it was put out there as a real thing.


Gina: Yes, definitely. It gave the book more depth by including it, even if it was always just something in the background and never a major thing.


Kristy: Oh my god. Wasn’t the commandant a price of work???


Gina: Gawd, I know right!! *see spoiler section for more*





Highlight to read.

*You have been warned - the conversation below will provide major spoilers for the book!!*

Gina - But as much as I liked Elias, he should have died. It would have made it more dramatic and I probably would have cried. But that was before the ending, now I’m not so sure.
Kristy - If Elias had of died I would have given up on it lol.
Gina - Really? I’m not sure because I loved Laia so I would have been happy if it continued on with just her.
Kristy - This world needs him. A Mask with a conscience. And a powerful one at that. Plus, if something happened to Elias, Laia would be dead. She wouldn’t last another hour. She hasn’t fully come into herself just yet.
Gina - That is true. I get now why he is kept alive, and I agree, she won’t make it 50ft without him to help her. But I knew straight away that when they told him that he would be free body and soul that he was going to die. I just meant that before the actual ending happened, that he should have died, but because of what happened in the end that idea just dies in itself.
Kristy - Yeah, free body and soul really only means death. I was expecting him to die. Oh my god. Wasn’t the commandant a price of work???
Gina - Yes, I know right!! I’ve got a feeling that she was the traitor while she was either graduated with her month leave or as a fifth.. Just a hunch though, it would make sense because she would have used the dark magic to help her gain her position with the masks.
Kristy - Maybe. But I don’t think the timeline adds up. Because that would have been more than 20 years ago and her parents where about 12. But who knows.
Gina - You never know these things, especially because of how early the masks are trained? Taken in at 6 to train, kill each other and cheer on deserter death whippings.
Kristy - I want I know about Elias’ dad. What happened there? I don’t think she was raped because she too easily dismissed rape.
Gina - That’s true. Especially because of how she is, you can tell that she’s been like that all her life. Maybe it is like she said and had a moment of weakness and fell in for a one night stand. Most likely would be a tribal guy. OHH! It could be one of the guys from that tribe that girl was from that danced with him at the festival!
Kristy - Yes, that girl has to be important. What I was surprised by was the Marcus thing. During that trial, I was thinking surely Marcus couldn’t win, because that would be the worst result, and you most stories tend to eliminate the worst possibility so that the path is free for a better option to occur.
Gina - I kind of expected it…. I had a feeling that Helene wouldn’t become Empress or Elias become Emperor. I guess in the next one we will see just how much of a hold the Commandant has on Marcus.
Kristy - I’m just too used to the “convenient” thing happening, which of course would be Marcus not winning.
Gina - Yeah, most books do that so it’s always the most likely thing that’s going to happen.
That being said, this is probably going to be a trilogy now because the next book will be all about rescuing her brother, then the final book will be taking on the Commandant and Marcus.
Kristy - Have you read the mortal instruments and infernal devices, Cain reminds me of brother Enoch lol
Gina - I have but it’s been so long ago that i can’t remember lol. Oh wait, it’s starting to come back to me a little… Anyway, I’m wondering how they are going to have a part in the rest of the series because they probably won’t run into each other much? Unless they do that weird show up out of nowhere thing again.



Thanks for tuning in! Let us know what you think in the comments!

This novel was received for review via Harper Voyager Australia. This review/discussion is entirely my own, no bribery or any deals have been made to sway this review/discussion or change my personal opinion of the novel.

What do you think?

  • […] An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1) by Sabaa Tahir): Brutality, darkenss, determination and rawness at it’s very best! This series had an amazing start with An Ember in the Ashes, with amazing world building, both engrossing and gorgeous, as well as being not shying away from a world filled with despair and deplorable characters. My review can be found here. […]

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