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.
What if you were the spark that could ignite a revolution? For years Laia has lived in fear. Fear of the Empire, fear of the Martials, fear of truly living at all. Born as a Scholar, she's never had much of a choice.
For Elias it's the opposite. He has seen too much on his path to becoming a Mask, one of the Empire's elite soldiers. With the Masks' help the Empire has conquered a continent and enslaved thousands, all in the name of power.
When Laia's brother is taken she must force herself to help the Resistance, the only people who have a chance of saving him. She must spy on the Commandant, ruthless overseer of Blackcliff Academy. Blackcliff is the training ground for Masks and the very place that Elias is planning to escape. If he succeeds, he will be named deserter. If found, the punishment will be death.
But once Laia and Elias meet, they will find that their destinies are intertwined and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
In the ashes of a broken world one person can make a difference. One voice in the dark can be heard. The price of freedom is always high, and this time that price might demand everything, even life itself.
©2015 HarperCollins Publishers Limited (P)2015 Sabaa Tahir
"With An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir shows us light in darkness, hope in a world of despair, and the human spirit reaching for greatness in difficult times." (Brandon Sanderson, number-one New York Times best-selling author)
"A heart-pounding story of love and loss, with the most original world-building I've read all year. Deeply felt and deeply moving, I could not put it down." (Margaret Stohl, New York Times best-selling author of Beautiful Creatures)
"This electric debut is a pulse-pounding, action-packed Romeo and Juliet story in a richly imagined world with a great twist and heroic characters you'll root for and won't stop thinking about." (Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times best-selling author of Frozen and The Ring and the Crown)
"An Ember in the Ashes is a spectacular page turner that asks readers to consider how far they'd go to save the ones they love. Sabaa Tahir is the next superstar in young adult fiction and her debut is as cinematic as Gladiator and as high-stakes as Game of Thrones." (Holly Goldberg Sloan, New York Times best-selling author of Counting by 7S and I'll be There)
I am a 28 year old man who likes to make use of a long commute by listening to sci-fi and fantasy audiobooks
I picked this up simply due to the fact that I read an article about it getting a 7-figure movie deal already, therefore I am assuming it is going to be as big as Harry Potter and Hunger Games etc.
Story – 4/5
I thought the story was excellent to be honest. It grabbed hold, and wouldn’t let go. The story and prose are simple and concise, as befits a young adult story, but the story is rich with depth and characterisation. There is plenty of action, great character development and a good portion of romance that added to the story, rather than detracting like most tend to for me.
Telling the story from 2 first person viewpoints that alternate, even when the characters cross-over worked extremely well. There was a strong emotional connection with both characters. The setting is supposed to be an alternative fantasy Roman Empire, with familiar styled names, and the format of the soldier’s training/discipline, which also worked very well.
For a young adult story, it is full of brutality; like torture, violence and talk of rape (although no rape actually happens luckily). It seems too much for teenagers, but then the plot and story progression is definitely written with teenagers in mind, therefore probably doesn’t hit either audience properly. Not that it matters too much for big kids like me. I also didn’t find some of what the supporting cast did very realistic at times; but these are both minor issues on the scale of things – easily ironed out in later novels.
Although the novel, including the title, hint towards a spark of revolution, do not be fooled into thinking this is a hunger games rip-off. It is completely different, and clearly the first novel of a series as it barely touches the surface of the overall plot that Sabaa Tahir is clearly working towards. I’m surprised this hasn’t been made a bigger deal on audible to be honest. I only hope this review can spread the word and ensure the whole series gets added.
Performance – 4/5
I think the audiobook production was of a very high quality. Getting 2 narrators to do the story from the 2 viewpoints really helped add to the enjoyment overall. I think both were very good at portraying the strong emotions of their respective characters.
Jack Farrar’s character voice acting was very good, each having a distinctive, believable voice. Aysha Kala, although acted well, didn’t provide much distinction; using similar voices for all characters. It didn’t spoil the book at all, as the story/prose was easy to follow – so I always knew who was speaking anyway, but it could have been just that little bit better.
Overall – 4/5
It's difficult not to compare Jack Farrar and Aysha Kala when they are alternating chapters. She's good, but he's brilliant. Both suit their characters well. It can be a bit confusing until you work that out they don't seemed to have agreed pronunciation before they started so are talking about the same people.
I don't want to give any plot points away, but thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone - it has a bit of everything!
My favorite part about the story was, how well the story line and characters were presented, so it was really easy to build up connections with characters, understand their developments. The world in which the story is set is definitely well though through and therefore makes the whole story very real and makes it easier for the listener to understand the story.
Definitely one of my favourite audiobooks so far, I would definitely recommend anyone who is interested in fantasy stories to read it. From strong characters, to an interesting story and plot twists that keep the book interesting, it has everything.
Intriguing, Detailed, Gripping.
Lovely to listen to two such soothing and animated voices, especially from Jack Farrar.
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