An Ember in the Ashes || a great plot with great characters

Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Genre: Fantasy
Category: Young Adult
Series info: Book 1 of the An Ember in the Ashes series


Why did I wait so long to pick up this book?! I’ve had it on my TBR ever since it’s hype first started online and I’ve had the paperback for MONTHS now. Just sitting on my shelf. And yet I didn’t pick it up until a couple days back.

First of all, can we appreciate this GORGEOUS cover? It’s back is even more pretty* but I didn’t really notice it until I actually started reading the book. Even I’m surprised at how the back of the cover slipped my attention.

*I’ll upload a picture sometime later, maybe.


Laia is a Scholar, and hence she is a slave to the Martians. When her brother is taken by a Mask, one of the deadliest Martian soldiers, for breaking the rules and trespassing, Laia is determined to get her brother out of prison before he dies.

The Resistance, a group of Scholars who are fighting against the Martians, agree to get Laia’s brother out on one condition—she has to spy on the Commandment of the Blackcliff training academy for Masks in return.

Elias is on his last year at Blackcliff, but he plans on deserting the night of his graduation. If he is caught, he will be executed. But it’s a risk he will take for freedom.

But something new happens at the graduation ceremony. Elias, his best friend and two other graduates are chosen as candidates to be the next Emperor. Suddenly, Elias is stuck at Blackliff again, this time for the Trials. If he wins the Trials, he’ll become either the Emperor or the new Emperor’s Blood Shrike. If he fails, he will be executed.

Laia and Elias meet innocuously but their lives become intertwined, and their choices affect the future of the entire Empire.

“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. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength.”


I LIKED THIS BOOK SO MUCH. I read it in TWO sittings, and I read almost 300 out of 448 pages in the second sitting. Once I got hooked into the book, I couldn’t put it down.

The plot was super intriguing. It’s been a long time since I read a YA fantasy book whose plot truly lured me in. Even when the chapters didn’t end on cliffhangers, all I wanted was to find out what happens next.

“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”

There were also a few fantasy elements thrown in. While I liked the fantasy creatures, I was also disappointed because they were literally thrown in. Jinns, efrits, and whatever else creatures were spoken about and shown but we didn’t get any real introduction on them. The book has ended and I still don’t know much about them.

The characters were A+. This book has a great plot but it felt character driven because of the focus and emphasis on the characters and their actions. I really liked Laia and Elias. I also enjoyed reading about the supporting characters, whether they were good or evil, because each was properly formed and shown. Each character was unique and had depth. They had layers, which I noticed as the book went on.

Also, the character development was so good! Laia grows from a “cowardly” and “weak” character to someone who is brave. I especially loved her growth.

“Once, I’d have wanted that. I’d have wanted someone to tell me what to do, to fix everything. Once, I’d have wanted to be saved.”

I absolutely loved the writing. Sabaa Tahir wrote the book SO DAMN WELL. There were so many great quotes which I marked, and there were scenes that were poignant in meaning and emotion. The book is character-driven but has such an amazing plot that it could be plot-driven too.


I regret not reading this book sooner, and I cannot wait to get the next book. I now understand the hype for this book.

This book is perfect if you’re looking for a good YA fantasy book which has a great plot and great characters.

I rate this book..

4/5 stars

8 thoughts on “An Ember in the Ashes || a great plot with great characters”

  1. Great review – I’m yet to start reading this series. So many books too little time. But your post has encouraged me to slip ‘Ember in the Ashes’ to the top of my TBR pile. Happy reading 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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