An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Historical YA, Romantic elements
Laia is a slave and while Elias is a soldier neither is truly free.
The Martial Empire meets defiance with death. People that live there are expected to vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor. If they don’t they chance execution of their loved ones and also the destruction of what they hold dear.
It is inspired by ancient Rome and it is brutal. It is also the world where Laia lives with her older brother and grandparents. They eke out an existence in the impoverished backstreets of the Empire. They also do not challenge the Empire. They know what happens when someone does they have seen it happen.
Laia is forced to make a decision when her brother is arrested for treason. She will get help from the rebels who promise to rescue her brother but to get that help she has to risk her life. She will have to spy for the rebels in the Empire’s greatest military academy.
At the school Laia meets Elias who is the school’s finest soldier. Though secretly he is the most unwilling. Elias is being trained to enforce the tyranny he wants to be free from. Soon Elias and Laia realize that their destinies are intertwined. They also realize that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
This is an amazing book that pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go. Not even after the reader has finished the story. The world comes to life with every word read. It has action and suspense that keeps the reader engrossed and reading just so they can see what will happen next. It will also have readers hoping for more from this author and world. Readers get to see Laia find the strength to do what she must to both survive and save her brother. Elias also finds out what is most important to him and just how far he will go to fight for what he believes in. This is a book that readers will find themselves reading over and over.
I give this one 5 red roses