Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
Man oh man I was not expecting ANY of that. This book tore me to shreds in the best possible way. The hype was real with this one when it first released, and I can definitely see why. I went into it with the mindset that I was probably going to slowly read this one – I’d started it before and put it down for whatever reason – and I didn’t pick it up again until now.
An Ember in the Ashes is gritty. It’s gritty and it’s twisty and turny and I loved every bit of it – even the hard to swallow moments. This book reminded me what it was like to read a truly fantastically written novel because I had no idea what was going to come next or how out main characters Elias and Laya would get themselves out of their dangerous situations. The chapters were woven beautifully, and I found myself not minding the overlap at all. The Commandant was refreshingly evil, and I can’t believe that this novel was supposed to be standalone.
If you’re planning on reading An Ember in the Ashes, I highly recommend having the sequel, A Torch Against the Night close at hand.