Tuesday, 8 March 2016

#33 An Ember in the Ashes

 An Ember in the Ashes By Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes is a debut novel within the fantasy genre. It follows 2 protagonists Elias and Laia (pretentious character names that have too many vowels!) they are from opposite ends of the spectrum, Elias is a trained fighter and Laia is a scholar, the lowest class with society. When Laia's brother Darin (another stupid name) is taken and arrested for treason Laia embarks on a journey to find 'The Resistance' in order to break her brother out of jail, ultimately she must spy in order to build trust within The Resistance. Elais' story was slightly more interesting, in the beginning he is days away from graduation after years and years of training and he wishes to sneak away and leave the academy that hes part of, the penalty for abandoning if caught is death. 

This story is said to be inspired by ancient Rome which in theory i was really excited about and i did enjoy the world building but it didn't encompass anything Roman really, it was quite dull and a struggle to get through. The beginning was very weak and not very much happened, even when the action kicked in and the story was injected with some action it still rather bored me. 

Laia is moany and uninteresting, she lacks substance as a character and her story did not appeal to me at all. Elais was ok as a character, slightly interesting and i liked his back story. He was the main reason i made it to the end of this book. I really dislike most fantasy stories and fantasy as a genre typically so it is no surprise that i didnt warm to this. I assumed that due to the hype and the sheer amount of awards that this book has won that it would be pretty good, i thought wrong. 

For me Helene was a stand out character, she was strong, independent and bad ass. She was everything a leading lady should be and in comparison Laia really fell down. Laia's role as a rebel was probably my least favorite aspect of the novel. Not only was she absolutely dreadful at it, but the rebels seemed shocked to find Laia hurt on a number of occasions. Things like this was worthy of an eyebrow raise because Laia was attempting to spy on the most dangerous person in the story, The Commandant, knowing that their previous spies were tortured and killed. So why are Laia's bruises a surprise?

All in all Sabaa's writing was indeed phenomenal, I love how even though I was not enjoying the story that much, she still kept me reading. World building is a really important fact for me, but there is another one that is more important in my opinion: Characters. I’ve said many times now that the characters can be the most influential factor on my enjoyment for a book. I’ve fallen in love with some books because of this, and the same applies to some books I’ve hated. The characters was the ultimate failing of this book for me.

“Life is made of so many moments that mean nothing. Then one day, a single moment comes along to define every second that comes after. Such moments are tests of courage, of strength."

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