Goodreads’ synopsis : 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.
The story is told from two points of view.
We’ve got Laia, a scholar who is living with her grand parents. One day their house is raided because her brother is suspected of treason.
A mask kills her grand parents and takes her brother away. She then decides to join the Rebellion in order to save him.
Elias, on the other hand is a martial. More important, he is a blackcliff student, soon to be a Mask. But he can’t stand it and was going to escape.
We can say that both of them are tormented by their ghosts.
The dual POV is particularly brilliant and well thought. First, it’s 2 stories apart, and even then the change of POV allowed us to compare the lives of the 2 main characters. It was really interesting when their paths started to cross.
The plot is really strong and thick and it took my breath away, because there’s so much actions and not a lot of moments where you can breathe a little. It’s a perfectly well lead book, a great fantasy story.
This is an amazing story. There’s no way you can guess what’s gonna happen next. Moreover, the writing is utterly brilliant. It captivates you from page one.
You also cannot not love the two main characters. They show their flaws, their weaknesses, they are aware of them and are not afraid to show them. These characters feel so real.
I also liked the fact that there’s no cliche in this book. Even about Laia becoming stronger and more strong minded. We also can see the relationships evolving, and growing.
There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that’s a burden and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It’s damaged but it’s there. Don’t let them take it from you.
– Laia, in the beginning is a coward. She is so scared but is also determined to save her brother. She feels responsible. That’s a thing I appreciated : she didn’t just wake up one morning stronger and badass. She endured a lot and we witnessed her strength being built up all along the book. She becomes more brave and cares for her friends.
– Elias, on this side, learns to follow his heart and his instincts. He tries his best not be an insensitive mask, like his cruel mother.
– Helene is the stereotype of the perfect mask. Cold, heartless, ready to follow any order. But it’s a shell because in the end she is not that bad.
– Izzi, in my opinion, is the bravest character. She is ready to deal with the repercussions of her friend’s acts. She wants to help her no matter what.
– The commandant is a really vicious and twist minded character.
I’m gonna stop there but there’s so much to tell. I could rave about this book for hours. An Ember In The Ashes captivated me and now I cannot wait to get my hands on its sequel.
Of course, needless to say that I highly recommend it to all the fantasy lovers !