Why I Checked It Out: “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir showed up as a highly suggested upcoming YA fantasy release on a variety of different blogs I visit. A lot of authors I respect also tweeted about it, and that was enough for me. If an author I loved said it was good, I had to have it. I put a copy on reserve before it even came out.
What It’s About: “An Ember in the Ashes” is told in alternating points of view between Laia, a Scholar, and Elias, a Mask. They live a city that once belonged to the Scholars, but was taken over by the Empire–a force that respects loyalty and brutality above all else. Laia wants to avenge her family and free her brother from the Empire. Elias wants to escape the horrors of being a Mask, an assassin-like fighter that is created to follow the Empire’s orders. As the two attempt to solve their problems, their worlds start to intertwine.
What I Liked About It: For starters, it is beautifully written. The world Tahir builds is rich and comes to life before your eyes. Laia was a weak character at the beginning of the novel, but as the story progresses, she grows a backbone and became a character to love. That is my one complaint. That’s it!
Elias was an awesome character right from the start. I hated the struggles he was forced to endure, and it drove me insane sometimes that more good things didn’t happen to him, but still, the story was well plotted. The way Tahir interweaves the two characters’ storylines, bringing them slowly together until their stories connect, is also creative and different.
This is going to be a fantasy series to follow, already shelved among my favorites. I look forward to the second book, and the third!
Similar Titles: “The Assassin’s Curse” by Cassandra Rose Clarke has a similar desert setting, along with troubled characters dealing with their desires versus their destinies. “Throne of Glass” by Sarah J. Maas is another book (and series!) I would highly recommend. It is also high fantasy with amazing world building and characters you won’t forget.