Saturday, March 25, 2017

Crown Review #35 - An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir

Rating: 4/5 Stars
Series: An Ember in the Ashes, #1
Length: 453 Pages
Purchase: [Amazon] | [Barnes & Noble]

Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

"Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after."
“This life is not always what we think it will be,” Cain says. “You are an ember in the ashes, Elias Veturius. You will spark and burn, ravage and destroy. You cannot change it. You cannot stop it.” 
I've debated back and forth on how to rate this book. Over debating with myself for a couple of minutes, I ultimately decided that I was going to give this book a 4 stars rating. While I did love this book, all I found myself was focusing on the story, but I wasn't to into it and wasn't anticipating things either. I heard nothing but good things about this book, and I saw everything about it. However, I expected I would get shocked and have reactions to things. While I did have some reactions, they were only minimal. However, this is only a minor opinion of mine for this book. Everything else was perfect.

Going back into my memory, I think I came across this book so many times, but I never really added it to my list. I guess I could say that I didn't think I wouldn't enjoy it. Then I got a Kindle Fire and saw that the book was on sale at Amazon and purchased it to give it try. Why not? Sometimes you have try books and see it for yourself and for once, I ended up liking this book.

One thing that caught my attention before reading this was that the setting was inspired by ancient Rome. If you want to get my attention on something history related, there are only two historical periods that will get my attention: Ancient Rome and Greece and Ancient Egypt. I would guarantee my attention for those time periods. Everything else is up to chance. However, when I read this and the story, I kept thinking of a setting inspired by Rome with an Ancient Chinese Empire flair to it. I have no idea where this "setting" came from, but I don't think it affected the overall feel for the story as I was mainly focused on the characters and the characters are what made the stories.

Laia is just a girl, who has everything taken away from her. In an attempt to get her brother back, Laia agrees to become a spy at an academy for the resistance. This is where she eventually meets there other protagonist, Elias. Elias is a soldier that doesn't want the life at the academy anymore. He would rather have the free life, but then a certain events pops up and he has to stay around a bit longer. Sooner or later, they meet, not realizing that their lives will eventually be intertwined due to the events that are going on.

Other than Laia and Elias, another characters I really liked reading about was the Augurs. The Augurs are these groups of beings that are immortal and can tell the future and they try to direct the Empire based on visions they change. They also have the abilities to read minds after decoding a series of lines of thoughts. It is weird, but very interesting at the same time. You'll eventually see that they have a certain role in the stories between Laia and Elias.

The chapters are very fast-paced between the two perspectives of Laia and Elias. Usually,  you would see the two perspectives quickly meeting and taking it from there. In this story, it takes a while. First, you learn a little about Laia and Elias on their own time. Then, they meet in some matter, but it doesn't mean anything. They're barely like acquaintances and go back to their own things; Laia being a spy and Elias figuring out what he's doing. Eventually, they start running into each other more often towards the end of the book and that is when the chapters start following each other. It was really nice to see how everything eventually fell into place.

Also, there's a love triangle in this story, but it is actually good? Surprising, I know. You know how in some books, the love triangle can be ridiculous? Somehow, the one in this book is actually good? At first, it may not be noticeable, unless you're really good at reading between the lines. Then once it reveals to be a love triangle, it was sort of surprising. It just came into the very smoothly instead of jumping in and make its presence known. I am rooting for a side though, and I hope I am right!

Overall, I ended up picking this book not expecting much but good things and I was pleased. This was just a nice book to pick up everyday and read. I never dreaded it one bit and was always willing to see what happened next. I just didn't expect it be this extremely good. Apparently the book first started as a stand-alone or a duology and now two more books are coming out for the series? Only this tells that great things happened in the second book and there is a reason why these books are so good.

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