An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
originally read in August 2015
re-read from 1 to 7 September 2016
I decided to re-read An Ember in the Ashes before starting its sequel A Torch Against the Night, since I honestly didn’t remember much anymore. Unfortunately, it took me much longer to read than the first time. However, I still enjoyed it as much.
I won’t get into detail again, you can check out my original review if you are interested (please ignore the horrible writing though). My opinion hasn’t changed, except about Keenan. At first, I wasn’t bothered by that love triangle (don’t worry, it isn’t that prominent), but this time, I noticed how he treated her at first: Keenan would have left Laia behind. Granted he didn’t know her, but he knew what the Martials were going to do to a Scholar girl. I definitely hope nothing (more) happens between him and Laia. I don’t even understand why Cain said Laia was in love with Keenan. She went much further with Elias and thinks much more about him. Besides being physically attracted to Keenan, Cain’s comment seemed so sudden.
Please be aware that this book features a lot of violence (sexual, physical…). I like the way it is done though. It does not glorify violence at all. I love watching Game of Thrones, but I’m not a fan of the violence for the sake of shock value or the rape just so male viewers can see some boobs. This book makes it very clear that the violence and oppressive social system are wrong. Laia and Elias’ POVs make that very obvious.
I really like both main characters, especially Laia. I still don’t understand why some people call her weak. I wouldn’t be able to handle the situations she’s in. Just because she isn’t like Arya Stark or Celaena Sardothien, doesn’t mean she isn’t strong. Strong women are not defined by their physical strength! I do have to admit that Laia is quite naive at times. I hope that changes in the sequel.
Let’s talk about Helene: why do so many people dislike her?! I still don’t understand that. Yes, she isn’t as opposed to the system as Elias is, but out of all of the horrible characters in this book, people choose to hate her? The only thing that annoyed me, was the miscommunication trope: if she had told Elias, drama could have been avoided.
At times, I couldn’t believe this was written by a woman though. Maybe that was Tahir’s intention, because those thoughts always occurred to me during Elias’ chapters. I hate how it was always Helene who needed to be saved by Elias (during the first two trials) and I don’t understand why they always have to say things like “Don’t act like a girl now” whenever Helene is nice or expresses her feelings. It’s not necessarily an insult, but it still irks me.
Another character I really love is Izzi!
Even though I had already read this, some things still surprised me. I can’t believe I never realised how bad my memory actually is. However, some things were predictable.
I don’t know anything about the sequel yet, but I hope it’s going to be action packed; trying to get her brother out of prison. For some reason, I don’t think Laia’s older sister is dead. It would definitely be typically YA if she turned out to be still alive.
Apperently, this was supposed to be a standalone at first? That wouldn’t have satisfied me at all.
Conclusion: I enjoyed this as much as the first time! I’m very curious to see where the characters go next. I just hope it isn’t going to contain the same tropes as most YA fantasies.