An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For a Young adult fiction this an awesome book. I picked it up and read through a hundred pages in each sitting. The books his filled with betrayal, action, intrigue and a great story. I will definitely want to read the sequel when it comes out. The story centers around two main characters, Elias and Laia. Elias is from the Martial nation, a ruthless Spartan or Mongolian empire that is taking over the entire world. Laia is from the scholars, a nation of learned bookish people who are overran by the Martials and put under a humiliating occupation.
The story gets started with a raid on Laia's house . Her brother, Darin, is on the run with a book of sketches on Martial weapons. THe chase leads to her grandparents house where in they are killed, her brother captured and she escapes. Upon escaping she soon contacts scholar resistance to set up a plan to rescue her brother. THingking that her mother former ties to the resistance might help , a plan is devised to get her to spy on the military school Blackcliff. In exchange for information the resistance verbally agrees to help rescue her brother.
Elias is the son of the cruel commandant in charge of Blackcliff. Elias wants to flee the empire and live a life of freedom. He is stopped by an Augur. AUgurs are psychic like people who can read minds and predict future events. Elias is told that if he leaves he will become what he hates most . This gives hi pause to reconsider. The commandant,his mother is ruthless. She tortures slaves for fun and she hates her only son who she abandoned to the desert to die. He is raised by the tribes and then chosen at a young age to be a mask. A mask is an elite warrior that wears a mask which adheres to their face. THey are great fighters and experts at torture.
THe main line going through the story is a contest of 4 trials used to determine who will be the new emperor. THe Augurs have predicted the old emp[eror will die without leaving an heir . THE story progresses through the trials, as it progresses each step we learn about the complexities of the different relationships between the various characters. It is a novel of shifting loyalties and young adults uncovering secrets about each other along the way. THe story is also filled with Ghuls and Jinn, who abhor humans. There is a back drop war between human and Jinn. THis is one YA fiction book that demands to be read.
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