An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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"--
Publisher: New York, New York : Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House, [2015]
Copyright Date: ♭2015
ISBN: 9781595148032
Branch Call Number: YA TAHIR
Characteristics: 446 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Oct 15, 2017

Hang on to your hat, because you are in for one heck of a ride.

This book was utterly amazing. You know how sometimes you read the beginning of a book and you just know instantly that this story will be insane? This is one of those books. An Ember in the Ashes will pull at your heartstrings and test your faith- in your loyalty to your empire, your friends, and yourself- if you went to Blackcliff Military School. This book shows you that your decisions make a HUGE impact on your character and fate.

The story, plot, and characters are amazing. They go together so well and are totally relatable. The amount to of suspense, action, and that feeling of mystery and danger in the An Ember in the Ashes is what makes this novel special and absolutely extraordinary.

You may be thinking "Yeesh! 446 pages?! No way I'm reading that!" Well that's what I thought and 10 minutes later I couldn't put the book down! Soon after I finished reading this book, I checked out the sequel A Torch Against the Night at my local library. An Ember in the Ashes is a story that everyone should read!

Sep 17, 2017

This book was INTENSE. It was dark and gritty, and violent- hence the new-adult rating I gave it. It's clearly part of a series- it ended on a major cliffhanger and I'm excited to dive into the next part of the story. It initially threw me off when the points of view were bouncing back and forth between Laia and Elias, but I got the hang of it soon enough. Their stories were interesting and different enough that it kept the story flowing well. Laia raked on my nerves a little bit with her whining (but that certainly could have just been the voice actress for the audiobook) every time she spoke it sounded like she was crying. I did enjoy Elias' voice actor, as well as his character (new book boyfriend? ;) ). The commandant was horribly evil, which was strangely refreshing, since I have not come across a villain THAT bad, without remorse or any redeeming qualities, in a very long time. The world, based loosely on the Roman Empire, became more and more complex as the story proceeded, and the characters more and more enmeshed in gray areas. Besides the aforementioned Commandant, there were really no severe lines separating good and evil. I will definitely be reading the next in the series. This book gets a 4.25.

PimaLib_ChristineR Sep 14, 2017

While there are some standards to this book, the writing and character-building take it beyond "individual starts the revolution to overthrow the evil overlords." The first difference is there is already a rebellion in place before Laia becomes entwined with them after the death and jailing of her entire family, but can she trust the rebellion?

She will do anything to get her one surviving brother out of prison, and she has to do that- nearly anything. It reminds me of Star Wars IV when the needle is coming near Princess Leia's face but nothing comes of it. That's not the case here. Here the violence is gut-wrenching and personal. Not a bedtime story for the kiddies. Everyone, good and bad bears the marks of the empire that trains them or enslaves them.

As the lead characters, Laia and Elias are faced with whom to trust and what freedom really means and what it costs. The rest of the cast is interesting too. From the evil Commandant, to Cook, to Zak, the grandfather, the best friend, or the sword maker who doesn't make swords to all the other characters, nothing was one-dimensional. Everyone had a story, or a hidden agenda, sometimes both. I docked a star for not being a standalone novel, but I don't feel like I wasted my time and I can't wait to read the next in the series.

Sep 10, 2017

I absolutely loved this book. Some parts (most parts) were hard to read but I felt like the open cruelty and brutality of this world made me connect instantly with the main characters who want no part of the harsh land they live in. It was sort of amazing to be transported into Blackcliff. I kept imagining the story unfolding in ancient Rome and it was fascinating. There was this sense of authenticity in the story whenever true evils in this world were exposed to their fullest potentials. I love the Laia and Elias, both with their strengths and flaws, both determined to keep away from the monsters around them.
This story was compelling and heartbreaking and terrifying in various ways, and I couldn't get enough of it.
There's something cathartic about reading the pain of someone else's life story, and I feel like the author knows this.
Beautifully written.

Jul 18, 2017

I thought this was a pretty great YA fantasy debut, with the Ancient Rome-esque setting making it stand out from the crowded field of more generic-feeling fantasy settings. I found the secondary characters in this one fascinating -- I loooooved Helene, and want to learn more about both Elias' mother and grandfather -- and will be eagerly reading future installments, hoping for lots more about all of these characters. My only complaint/word of warning is that sexual violence (or at least the threat of such) is pretty prominent in this -- it feels appropriate for the world it's set in, but I just thought it was worth noting.

sarahbru17 Jul 03, 2017

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Absolutely stunning. I haven't read such an incredible book in a long time.
The plot was relentless. I was so anxious for the Elias and Laia the whole time, and the POV shifts were on-point. The stakes just kept rising, the conflict got more intense, everything just got worse and worse and it was *wonderful.*

Jun 28, 2017

Great story filled with strong characters.

Jun 24, 2017

Right at the get go, I had a very strong idea that Elias and Laia would be very strongly connected. Both had a fire inside that propelled them through life, and perhaps when they came together they would either burn brighter or out, together. To be able to inspire such thoughts really gives credit to the author, as her style of writing is truly captivating and unique. The flow is relatively nice, with changes in perspective at perfect moments. I didn't ever like Helene despite my personality being much like hers, which is really odd. Something about her was unsettling, and right to the end. But I cannot wait to read the next installment; I have a feeling it is going to be wonderfully wicked like this one.
- @Siri of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

“An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir is an amazing novel set in a world ruled by an oppressive government. The story is told from the perspectives of two main characters: a girl living under the oppression of the government, and a boy who works for the oppressive government. Although it may seem odd that the story is told through two very contrasting perspectives, its brilliant execution makes it better than if it were two separate books. It leaves the readers on the edge of their seats, eager to continue reading and seeing how the main characters will get through the bad situation. The characters are written amazingly. They have unique flaws and are in no way perfect, which leaves much room for them to develop and overcome their imperfections. The book is amazing in every way, from the plot to the characters to the narration, it is a definite must-read and I give it a score of 5/5.
- @Orion of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

Apr 26, 2017

Interesting, but no so interesting that I'll be reading the sequel any time soon.

Still, it's worth giving a shot.

Mar 22, 2017

This is probably one of my favorite books. I love the dynamics of different perspectives throughout the book. The character, environment, and activity descriptions are amazing! It really helps bring the story alive.
I've read the sequel, A Torch Against The Night, and I think that Tahir did a wonderful job tying them together and bringing the story of Laia and Elias to an end.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

Jul 29, 2017

blue_dog_8329 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

sarahbru17 Jul 03, 2017

sarahbru17 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jun 03, 2017

wangbal28 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Feb 12, 2017

nimchuk thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Jan 27, 2017

Pipthekat thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Dec 02, 2016

akzfineart thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Nov 11, 2016

black_pony_62 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jun 03, 2016

Peep1900 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

green_alligator_2498 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Aug 10, 2015

ADWithrow thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

View All Ages


Add a Quote

Aug 06, 2016

Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be

Aug 06, 2016

There will be so much more in between. So much uncertainty. I don't know if we'll survive the catacombs, let alone the rest of it.

But it doesn't matter. For now, these steps are enough. These first few precious steps into darkness. Into the unknown.

Into freedom.

Aug 06, 2016

Where there is life, Nan used to say, there is hope.

Aug 06, 2016

Fear can be good, Laia. It can keep you alive. But don't let it control you. Don't let it sow doubts within you. When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible, to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.

Aug 06, 2016

There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that's a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It's damaged but it's there. Don't let them take it from you.

Aug 03, 2016

Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.

"'You have a soul. It's damaged, but it's there. Don't let them take it from you, Elias.'"


Add Notices

Jun 03, 2016

Sexual Content: Rape mentioned often but never shown or even in background

Jun 03, 2016

Violence: Slightly Descriptive deaths and whippings and torture

Jun 03, 2016

Coarse Language: S once, w, d, h, p, a, and b, all multiple times


Add a Summary

A young girl has her brother taken from her and she is willing to do anything to get him back. She joins the rebellion in hopes that they will help her. She is sent to be the slave of a cruel master. She struggles to survive and pass on the information to the rebels. Will she save her brother in time?

LibraryK8 Jun 11, 2015

In a world inspired by ancient Rome, Laia is a Scholar, a member of a conquered people who were once the greatest minds on earth. Laia ekes out a living making jams with her grandmother, while her brother and grandfather provide health care to the needy. Until one night when her brother is accused of spying on the Martial Empire for a rebel group. Laia’s grandparents are murdered in front of her face and her brother is thrown in prison. Laia only escapes this fate buy running away. Ashamed of how she has behaved she tries to barter with the rebel group for her brother’s freedom. But they ask for a price that could mean her life, spying on the greatest military academy in the kingdom.
Meanwhile Elias is about to graduate from that same military academy. Most of his classmates are elated to have survived (not everyone does) and are eagerly anticipating the freedom that military service seems to be in comparison to the strict rules of the school. Elias, however, is looking for a truer and longer lasting freedom. He plans to escape the school, and military service on the night of the graduation ceremony. Until he is selected as a candidate to be the next emperor. Now he has to compete in a series of games, against his friends, that will determine the next emperor, and cost the losers their lives.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SPL

To Top