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Summary

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

Critic reviews

"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)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Probably the next big thing in YA Fantasy


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

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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fantastic story and brilliant narration.

can't wait to read the next book, desperate for audible to provide a version ( preferably with these same narrators)

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fab book and interesting for Adults also!

If you could sum up An Ember in the Ashes in three words, what would they be?

Intriguing, Detailed, Gripping.

What does Aysha Kala and Jack Farrar bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Lovely to listen to two such soothing and animated voices, especially from Jack Farrar.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Loved it

Loved everything about this story!!! An ember in the ashes pushing these two together!!! Straight to book 2

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Dangerous World where everything is possible

I enjoyed reading this book. It's brilliant and the characters are emotional and believable. The plot was fantastic and I loved the end. It's wonderful to see how the female protagonist develops and becomes stronger! I'd want to read this book a few more times just because it's written so beautifully

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Tazmin
  • South Africa
  • 28-06-17

Truely FANTASTIC I honestly cant find the words.

I cant actually find anything to compare its brilliance to. The book says ancient Rome but I dint really get that same vibe. I found myself takeb back to Nazi Germany.
A bloody good book

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Starts well, then fades

I thought this book started off with excellent writing, but then it lost its way a little. It was a good enough story, but there were a lot of cliches borrowed from other YA books and not a lot that was fresh or original, and I wasn't a fan of the "love square".

I was disturbed by the gratuitous use of violence. There are so many deaths (used as plot devices) that you become numbed to them, and the casual acceptance of rape combined with the endless violent victimisation of the main character begin to feel like sadistic voyeurism.

The narrators brought good expression and characterisation to their readings, BUT there were so many mispronunciations of words. So many. I can't think why the audio producer didn't edit these. Particularly irritating is the way the female narrator pronounces "says" phonetically ("s-ay-z" rather than "sez"), which just kept popping me out of my immersion in the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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awesome

loved it, can't wait to read the next one. if I had a complaint it's that it all happens so quick the time flies when you're listening.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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One of my favourites!

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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One narrator out-shines the other

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!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-07-18

Loved this book

This book is fast paced and exciting! Couldn’t stop listening! Great book. I recommend it

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  • Mansi
  • 18-07-18

It was brilliant. It was epic.

Read this again to refresh the story, before picking up Reaper at the gates.
I just fell in love with this book all over again, the characters and the world building. Tahir's unique writing style and creative imagination is amazing.
It was brilliant. It was epic. Still felt great reading it again. Both Elias and Laia are such strong characters, and I fell in love with them. I was invested and engrossed the whole time that is finished it in a day.

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  • S. Moreton
  • 24-06-18

Better than average, but not brilliant.

The female character Laia, and her narration annoyed me the most. She was an insecure whinny child. I mean she was written as an insecure whinny child, (why authors think we want to listen to children whine in our off hours is beyond me) but these things work better in written books than in audio books. In a paper book you skip the bits that you don't like, in an audio book you are stuck with them. Also the narrator reading the female part can't pronounce some English words. Honey, here's a hint if you're going to be reading English professionally check a dictionary, ask the guy reading the male part, ask anybody. It's granite.
The male part was not as annoying to listen to, and saved the story.
If I buy the next book, I'll probably buy it as a book though not an audio book, I can't run the risk of the whining not being done yet.

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  • ldhess
  • 19-03-18

good story

good narration.. strong story, nail biting chapter after chapter. suspenseful till the end. must buy