Truly one of the best books of the year, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is like The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones rolled into one, but way better. An Ember in the Ashes follows Laia on her search for her brother who is taken to prison for conspiring against the Empire. She ends up meeting with the Resistance and agrees to a deal with them.
They find her brother and she will spy for them. This leads to her serving the sadistic Commandant and crossing paths with Elias, a soldier who is struggling to escape from the oppressive training school Blackcliff. He’s one of the four candidates fighting for the role of Emperor and faces four trials if he wants to survive.
Laia and Elias’ destinies become entwined and things heat up – not just their growing intimacy.
The language is so rich and vivid. The characters do leap off the pages and travel into your soul. Each chapter is not anti-climatic, everything serves to raise the stakes, keeping you turning and craving for more. I can’t wait for the sequel!
One thing that annoyed me every now and then was how the characters weren’t subtle in their plans. I know they’re still young and learning, but I wanted to shake them by the shoulders and shout “A couple weeks later and you still don’t think about getting caught? Do you ever learn?”
Now excuse me, while I fantasise about Laia and Elias together 😉