An Ember in the Ashes is that kind of a book that not only provokes strong emotions but also gives you mega-chills. I had to remind myself constantly that it’s all fiction and not real, as I could not sleep for a couple of nights after finishing this book. I think Sabaa Tahir has done a brilliant job in capturing a brutal world that was inspired by ancient Rome. Everything about this book was so gripping that you won’t be able to rest before completing this book.
The kingdom of the Martials was ruled by gruesome cruelty, violence and death. Ever since the Martials overtook the Scholars five hundred years ago, they have done nothing but to make the lives of the Scholars hellishly difficult. Okay, so I thought Panem was the worst but after reading this book I had to rethink. Laia was a Scholar-many of whom were tortured till death, enslaved and restrained from getting a proper education by the Martial rulers. She was in search of her brother, Darin, who was imprisoned. Elias was a Mask. Though full freedom was bestowed upon him by the Government, he was not free. He was not like other Masks, who enjoyed raping slaves and Scholar women. He had deep contempt for the laws of his state. I won’t go into details as I don’t want to be the spoiler queen. You will have to read the book for yourself to imbibe the true feels. Wait! Don’t just read this book, rather experience it as it is not only a book but also a slightly exaggerated version of our own planet.
Among all the characters, I loved Helene the most. I think that she was flawless. She was the embodiment of perfection. She was very much realistic. All her humane qualities made her all the more fantastic. The readers can’t help but laugh and cry with her. Elias was a bit selfish (Elias shippers please don’t kill me.) He was too concerned about his freedom to be the much-awaited change that the Scholars needed. Laia was adorable and also relatable. I wish that Helene and Laia made a couple as they would have been so perfect for each other. In a nutshell, I am a Helaia shipper.
To me, the plot is the strongest element of this book. The story is complex, encompassing betrayal, political scheming and also supernatural elements. Another intriguing part of this book is the character of the Commandant. I don’t think that she was fully evil. Towards the end of this book we were provided with some tantalising facts about her back-story but there is still a lot more about her that is yet to be discovered.
The ending deserves a special mention. The characters stood for themselves and started a major fight to bring a change, rather than waiting for something extra ordinary to happen to them. An Ember in the Ashes is going to stay with me for a long, long time if not forever.Do grab your copy at the earliest if you haven’t and come back in the comments section once you finish reading this masterpiece. Until next time then!