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Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes, by Tabaa Tahir


Introducing THE WOW FACTOR!

Let me start by saying wow. WOW.  W…O…W! This book is… WOW!

Ember in the Ashes , of course, gets all my check marks: ✓ Writing, Characterization, ✓ Premise, ✓Plot and ✓World-building

5 stars

Wow factor: graphic violence, disturbing, shocking

About the Book


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.

My Review

Ember in the Ashes is like a wish list for a fantasy book I didn’t even know I had, and that a fabulous godmother named Sabaa Tahir made come true.

This is a 5-stars book all the way that will become a classic.

5-stars writing, 5-stars imagery, 5-stars premise and theme, 5-stars plot, 5-stars characterization 10-stars world-building and imagery!

It is epic, stunning and gripping at a heart-pounding, nails-biting, breath-holding level! It even had me add a “Wow factor” to my review policy with so many emotions it made me feel!

Here goes the warning: As the historical period that inspired it, this story is raw, stark, brutal, full of violence and brutality. There is frequent reference to rape and abuse, torture, and murder of innocent vulnerable people, most of them women, elderly and children

The writing… oh the writing! elegant but unassuming language, every sentence is like a poem, so beautifully crafted. It was just perfect for me! As I said, it was like Sabaa had come to me and ask me: “what kind of book would you like me to write and how would you like me to write it?”

Ember in the Ashes is one of the few books I’ve ever read where the characters, plot and world building are equally developed! History, romance and fantasy have never come together so seamlessly to create such a masterpiece.

Laia and Elia’s dual first person POVs will make you connect with characters at new levels. You will experience every raw emotion: the  fear, dread and sorrow of living in their god forsaken roman empire-like world.

Your heart will skip a few beats as the fine threads of this well-weaved story bridge the immense abysm that separate these two born enemies, a soldier sworn to protect the empire and a slave working for the resistance,  to bind them together.

The amazing plot will make you bite all your nails as the rebellion tries to bring down a tyrannical empire that already crumbles under treachery, cunning and conspiracy.

Then, if violence, war, rebellion and romance was not enough, you also have a supernatural veil hovering above it all with the prophetic Augurs, the creepy ghouls that feed of on souls’ sorrow and blood.

Oh well… I don’t even know what else to say other than I can’t wait for book 2 and in the meantime I’m sure I’ll reread book one many times!

Was this review helpful? If so, please like it on Goodreads or vote for it on Amazon

About the Author

sabaaSabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.


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  1. Yay..I listened on audio but I am so glad to see that it was just as good reading it. Wonderful review
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Sunday Post #174- Sunshine, Smiles and Lots of ReadingMy Profile

  2. After reading this, I just can’t not add it to my reading list – you’re quite persuasive !
    Red Iza recently posted…Lusting for covers #70 / Avery Aster : UndressedMy Profile

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