An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes

A Novel

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House,, [2015]
ISBN: 9781595148032
Characteristics: 446 pages : map ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
AbbyG_KCMO May 03, 2019

In a society governed by brutality, a new dynasty is ushered in by possibly omnicient beings. A member of the elite class finds his destiny is dependent on someone he's never met - a girl from the oppressed class whose life has been torn apart by his kind. A nagging uneasiness lurks on every page of this tale of loyalty, subversion, and uncertain identity. Alternating narratives make this book slow at first, but keep the action alive later in the story. Although this reader wasn't particularly compelled by the romantic subplot, complex characters and vivid atmosphere elevate this story to the upper echelons of young adult fantasy.

IndyPL_NicoleN Nov 05, 2018

Don't let the length of this book get to you. This book was so hard to put down, I was on the edge of my seat until the very end. This is a great read if you've already read Hunger Games or the Divergent series.

Oct 27, 2018

This book is incredible. I can't wait for the 4th book! The story had me right away and I couldn't stop reading. I loooooved it!

Sep 06, 2018

I could not get into this book. It was good, and very much like everything else I like, but for some reason it wasn't gripping and I didn't have a strong drive to finish it. It picked up near the end and I'll probably still finish the series, but it wasn't a must-read.

Aug 22, 2018

I really liked this novel. The Roman-like feel was very interesting and the magic was cool. I really loved the characters , they were well fleshed out and I look forward to getting to know them better as I continue this series.

Jul 24, 2018

Both the author and this series itself surprised me! The overall mood of the series is very dark and violent, which is not usually what I like to read. However, Sabaa Tahir has a one-of-a-kind gift as a storyteller and I can't get enough of her writing! Her quick world-building allows you to be fully immersed in the plot and characters. This also happens to be one of the few series I've read where I cannot even begin to guess how it will end. Just when you think it can't get any worse...unforeseen tragedy strikes. I can't wait to see how Tahir wraps things up in book 4. Series order: 1)An Ember in the Ashes. 2)A Torch Against the Night. 3)A Reaper at the Gates.

Oct 15, 2017

Hang on to your hat, because you are in for one heck of a ride.

This book was utterly amazing. You know how sometimes you read the beginning of a book and you just know instantly that this story will be insane? This is one of those books. An Ember in the Ashes will pull at your heartstrings and test your faith- in your loyalty to your empire, your friends, and yourself- if you went to Blackcliff Military School. This book shows you that your decisions make a HUGE impact on your character and fate.

The story, plot, and characters are amazing. They go together so well and are totally relatable. The amount to of suspense, action, and that feeling of mystery and danger in the An Ember in the Ashes is what makes this novel special and absolutely extraordinary.

You may be thinking "Yeesh! 446 pages?! No way I'm reading that!" Well that's what I thought and 10 minutes later I couldn't put the book down! Soon after I finished reading this book, I checked out the sequel A Torch Against the Night at my local library. An Ember in the Ashes is a story that everyone should read!

Sep 17, 2017

This book was INTENSE. It was dark and gritty, and violent- hence the new-adult rating I gave it. It's clearly part of a series- it ended on a major cliffhanger and I'm excited to dive into the next part of the story. It initially threw me off when the points of view were bouncing back and forth between Laia and Elias, but I got the hang of it soon enough. Their stories were interesting and different enough that it kept the story flowing well. Laia raked on my nerves a little bit with her whining (but that certainly could have just been the voice actress for the audiobook) every time she spoke it sounded like she was crying. I did enjoy Elias' voice actor, as well as his character (new book boyfriend? ;) ). The commandant was horribly evil, which was strangely refreshing, since I have not come across a villain THAT bad, without remorse or any redeeming qualities, in a very long time. The world, based loosely on the Roman Empire, became more and more complex as the story proceeded, and the characters more and more enmeshed in gray areas. Besides the aforementioned Commandant, there were really no severe lines separating good and evil. I will definitely be reading the next in the series. This book gets a 4.25.

PimaLib_ChristineR Sep 14, 2017

While there are some standards to this book, the writing and character-building take it beyond "individual starts the revolution to overthrow the evil overlords." The first difference is there is already a rebellion in place before Laia becomes entwined with them after the death and jailing of her entire family, but can she trust the rebellion?

She will do anything to get her one surviving brother out of prison, and she has to do that- nearly anything. It reminds me of Star Wars IV when the needle is coming near Princess Leia's face but nothing comes of it. That's not the case here. Here the violence is gut-wrenching and personal. Not a bedtime story for the kiddies. Everyone, good and bad bears the marks of the empire that trains them or enslaves them.

As the lead characters, Laia and Elias are faced with whom to trust and what freedom really means and what it costs. The rest of the cast is interesting too. From the evil Commandant, to Cook, to Zak, the grandfather, the best friend, or the sword maker who doesn't make swords to all the other characters, nothing was one-dimensional. Everyone had a story, or a hidden agenda, sometimes both. I docked a star for not being a standalone novel, but I don't feel like I wasted my time and I can't wait to read the next in the series.

Sep 10, 2017

I absolutely loved this book. Some parts (most parts) were hard to read but I felt like the open cruelty and brutality of this world made me connect instantly with the main characters who want no part of the harsh land they live in. It was sort of amazing to be transported into Blackcliff. I kept imagining the story unfolding in ancient Rome and it was fascinating. There was this sense of authenticity in the story whenever true evils in this world were exposed to their fullest potentials. I love the Laia and Elias, both with their strengths and flaws, both determined to keep away from the monsters around them.
This story was compelling and heartbreaking and terrifying in various ways, and I couldn't get enough of it.
There's something cathartic about reading the pain of someone else's life story, and I feel like the author knows this.
Beautifully written.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability
Jun 08, 2019

Ravindersidhu thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

May 22, 2018

ladislaoma thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jul 29, 2017

blue_dog_8329 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

sarahbru17 Jul 03, 2017

sarahbru17 thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jun 03, 2017

wangbal28 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Feb 12, 2017

nimchuk thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Jan 27, 2017

Pipthekat thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Dec 02, 2016

akzfineart thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Nov 11, 2016

black_pony_62 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jun 03, 2016

Peep1900 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

View All Ages


Add a Quote
Aug 06, 2016

Fear is only your enemy if you allow it to be

Aug 06, 2016

There will be so much more in between. So much uncertainty. I don't know if we'll survive the catacombs, let alone the rest of it.

But it doesn't matter. For now, these steps are enough. These first few precious steps into darkness. Into the unknown.

Into freedom.

Aug 06, 2016

Where there is life, Nan used to say, there is hope.

Aug 06, 2016

Fear can be good, Laia. It can keep you alive. But don't let it control you. Don't let it sow doubts within you. When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible, to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.

Aug 06, 2016

There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that's a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It's damaged but it's there. Don't let them take it from you.

Aug 03, 2016

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.

"'You have a soul. It's damaged, but it's there. Don't let them take it from you, Elias.'"


Add Notices
Jun 03, 2016

Sexual Content: Rape mentioned often but never shown or even in background

Jun 03, 2016

Violence: Slightly Descriptive deaths and whippings and torture

Jun 03, 2016

Coarse Language: S once, w, d, h, p, a, and b, all multiple times


Add a Summary

A young girl has her brother taken from her and she is willing to do anything to get him back. She joins the rebellion in hopes that they will help her. She is sent to be the slave of a cruel master. She struggles to survive and pass on the information to the rebels. Will she save her brother in time?

LibraryK8 Jun 11, 2015

In a world inspired by ancient Rome, Laia is a Scholar, a member of a conquered people who were once the greatest minds on earth. Laia ekes out a living making jams with her grandmother, while her brother and grandfather provide health care to the needy. Until one night when her brother is accused of spying on the Martial Empire for a rebel group. Laia’s grandparents are murdered in front of her face and her brother is thrown in prison. Laia only escapes this fate buy running away. Ashamed of how she has behaved she tries to barter with the rebel group for her brother’s freedom. But they ask for a price that could mean her life, spying on the greatest military academy in the kingdom.
Meanwhile Elias is about to graduate from that same military academy. Most of his classmates are elated to have survived (not everyone does) and are eagerly anticipating the freedom that military service seems to be in comparison to the strict rules of the school. Elias, however, is looking for a truer and longer lasting freedom. He plans to escape the school, and military service on the night of the graduation ceremony. Until he is selected as a candidate to be the next emperor. Now he has to compete in a series of games, against his friends, that will determine the next emperor, and cost the losers their lives.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SMCL

To Top