An Ember in the Ashes

Finished An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.  I received a copy for review from the publisher.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

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.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.”

Because I got this through Penguin’s First to Read program, I had to read it through this very specific app, BlueFire.  I mention that because the day I was reading this book, my iPad kept crashing every 10 pages (at best; 5-6 pages at worst) so I read most of this almost 450-page book on my phone.  And I didn’t even mind, because the alternative—waiting over a month until the book was released—wasn’t even an option.  That should tell you how amazing this book is, right? I would rather read 450 pages on a phone screen than wait and read a normal size book.

Because you guys, this book really is fantastic.  I don’t read all that much fantasy anymore, but holy crap, this world that Sabaa Tahir made.

I have heard complaints that Laia’s sections were boring, but I didn’t find that to be true at all.  Yes, Elias’ sections are more action-packed (he goes through the trials, after all) but that doesn’t mean that hers were boring.  She was risking her life spying for the rebels, and was at the world’s scariest place, in close proximity to the world’s scariest person.  (Seriously, read this book and tell me the Commandant doesn’t give you chills.)

I have heard that this may be a standalone, but given the ending, I refuse to believe that’s true.  There has to be a sequel, right? Please say yes.

Highly recommended.

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