An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir | Book Review
Written by Sabaa Tahir
Age Range: 14 and up
Hardback: 446 pages
What to expect: Fight for Freedom, Romance, Danger, Adventure, Hope
In troubled Serra and its surrounding lands, what it means to be free is in the eye of the beholder. To young Scholar Laia, freedom is a price that could cost her life, a cost that she’s willing to pay. She chooses to become a slave, to trade her freedom for spied knowledge, in a desperate bid to save her brother, the only family she has left. Martial Elias is one of the most successful and powerful young soldiers on the verge of graduating from the Academy, granted a power and freedom within society that most envy and fear, but to Elias, his future is a dead end, a trap that will strip his last ounce of freedom from him, forcing him into decisions that disgust him. Both are fighting for their own form of freedom, but can both ever truly own it?
It’s the pulsing question at large in An Ember in the Ashes. In a kingdom ruled by darkness, is anyone really free? Under the strict regime of the Empire, where masked men control the tight boundaries of freedom, killing anyone who dares to cross the line, there are those looking to claim back a truer sense of freedom, including the dangerous Resistance. Yet within Blackcliff Academy, the Empire is divided, and even those whose future is deemed promising, are ultimately ruled, sworn to a life of loyalty – a loyalty that will cost their life if they dare to voice against it.
Sabaa Tahir’s heart-wrenchingly fierce debut novel will draw you deep into the hearts and minds of Laia and Elias as you join them on their battle for freedom. An Ember in the Ashes does more than take its influence from the likes of ancient Rome – its brutality and strong quest to push and question the definition of freedom, of dark politics and brutal consequences, points to the violence of the modern world, too, where freedom, in its many forms, is still sadly up for debate. Within this vividly imagined, complex world of Tahir’s, throw in an intoxicating mix of romance, danger, adventure, and unwavering hope, and you’ve got a shining debut that’s already making a whole lot of noise. An Ember in the Ashes will appeal to those looking to lose themselves in a dark and complex world buffered by faith and determination, and to those looking for heartache and quickened heartbeats, the promise of love, and the belief in survival. Fans of fantasy, get ready for a turbulent page-turner told in the voice of two strong individuals sure to take you on an unforgettable journey: the last page will undoubtedly leave you breathless and eager for more.
Add this book to your collection: An Ember in the Ashes
About the Author
Sabaa Tahir was born in London but grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. After graduating from UCLA, Sabaa became an editor on the foreign desk at The Post. Three summers later, she came up with the concept for her debut novel, An Ember in the Ashes. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.
Read The Children’s Book Review’s interview with Sabaa Tahir.
An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, was reviewed by Charlie Kennedy. Follow along with our book reviews and articles tagged with Comics and our Graphic Novels category to discover more great kids books.