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An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)
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Book of the Month > May - An Ember in the Ashes

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message 1: by Hannah (last edited Jun 01, 2015 01:16PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hannah (ignitesthestars) | 220 comments Mod
This month's book is An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir. It's currently available through Amazon and Kobo, potentially on Overdrive, and in bookstores everywhere i am guessing because it's supposed to be the Next Big Thing

This post is for the all purpose discussion of An Ember in the Ashes. You can post thoughts as you go, or save it all up for one big review. You are not required to like the book - feel free to say you loved it, hated it, everything in between. Be as general or weirdly specific as you like.

Obviously, this post will have spoilers, so if you prefer to go into books blind, don't read past this post until you're done! Otherwise, venture forth and nerd out.

The winner of this month's giveaway was Sabrina!


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Now I have to decide whether to buy this on Kindle or get thhe hardcover... XD


Jess (jlko89) | 112 comments Oh, I'm excited. Already have a copy of this one, so I shouldn't run into last month's problem of not being able to get the book! XD


message 4: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura | 21 comments I am currently awaiting its arrival (with anticipation and nerves). My copy will probably will be delivered by Tuesday. I'm so excited!


message 5: by Kael (new)

Kael (mordreds_girl) | 134 comments Gpt my copy, but it's gonna have to wait for me to finish Firestorm first.


Hannah (ignitesthestars) | 220 comments Mod
I'm probably going to wait for pay day to get this one, so i'll slam into the discussion around the second half of the month! Gonna get the Kindle version.


Miyanomori | 9 comments I finished it just today and I love it! It got me interested in the world and want to know more about it and what could happen after the book. I don't know if this book is supposed to be a series or standalone but the ending definitely makes it feel like there should be more because it feels like there's a lot left unanswered.

Fair warning to people who hasn't started though that it has quite a fair bit of maiming/mutilation (some of the characters are tortured/disfigured) and bloodshed and a lot of threats and mentions of rape for anyone who might not want to read about those things.


Hannah (ignitesthestars) | 220 comments Mod
Thanks for the head's up, Mitsu! I'll send a message out so people know


message 9: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura | 21 comments Okay, so my copy arrived early and I just finished it (I have no self-restraint).

THE FEEEEEEEELLLLLLLSSSSS!!!


message 10: by Kael (new)

Kael (mordreds_girl) | 134 comments Welp, so far I'm the odd-woman out, gave it 20 pages but I'm just not interested enough to keep going. Then again I've never been that big a fan of dystopias (regardless if they're sci-fi or fantasy), so it already had an uphill battle to try and catch my attention.

To me it just felt like someone was going through a checklist of sorts: 'member of the ruling force who's secretly against them?' Check 'Heroine's family gets killed/taken?' Check. 'Heroine beats herself up over not standing up to them, despite being told to run?' Check. It made it feel boring, and formulaic.

But that's just me, and obviously a few of you really enjoy it, so *shrugs*.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

So I just finished (woo!) and I ended up enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would.

In the beginning I was really concerned that this was going to be predictable and not develop its potential. I was rooting for it, but I was concerned. Slowly my mind was changed and by the end I was completely sold on the story, the characters and the world.

Parts of it were brutal for a YA novel, and you could tell Tahir was targeting this towards the older end of the audience (lots of adult themes/situations).

I LOVED Helene (my fierce warrior queen) and Elias and Laia really came into their own by the end. The villains were on point and were entirely (and believably) despicable.

I'm afraid to be too spoilery this early into the month when not many have read it, but I'll be here to fangirl over this book for a while. It's been a while since I've been so happy to see a book save itself. :)


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Also I read somewhere that the book is written with the intent to have a sequel, but the publisher only bought one book. Since it's already a bestseller, I think we'll be seeing more of this story in the future *crosses fingers*


Sabrina (sabsey) | 10 comments Is it just me or was this book wayy more brutal than expected? (I don't think it was a bad element but it was so heavy for a YA book)

I really loved the fantasy elements to it and I really hope there's more of that stuff!


message 14: by Saigeetha (last edited May 17, 2015 08:31PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Saigeetha  (steinheil) | 1 comments I agree with all criticisms! ...Although I dig that ending, totally worth getting through some of those pages. Also plenty of tw for rape/rape mention/rape threats throughout, just in case. Like...sorry if that is a spoiler, but it happens in the book so constantly (exhaustingly)...I think that might be important for some of you to know!!

I'll wait for everyone to finish before getting into spoilery stuff, haha!


message 15: by Jess (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jess (jlko89) | 112 comments I'm about 300 pages in, and while the book's readable, I don't think the story or the characters have grabbed me in any significant way. Maybe the last third of the book will hook me a bit better, but as of right now, it's definitely a read-and-forget-about book for me.

Also, all the rape threats/mentions are dragging my general opinion of the book down, too. I'm not a fan of authors using rape threats or actual attempted rape scenes as a lazy device to point out that the villain's a really bad guy, trust me, and that's largely how Tahir's been using it. The Masks are bad guys because they rape slaves! Marcus is a bad guy because he repeatedly threatens to rape Helene! Elias is not a bad guy because he doesn't rape, hooray for him! Just... blegh.


Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 39 comments I'm around a third through it so far. I'm curious if the description likening it to Rome is more supported later in the book? It's been extremely surface so far and if not for some of the names, nothing would have made me think of Rome to start with.


message 17: by Jess (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jess (jlko89) | 112 comments I finished this on Sunday, and the more I think about it, the less I like An Ember in the Ashes. I initially gave it three stars, but I'm thinking about dropping it down to two. When it comes down to it, it's nothing I haven't read before in dystopian YA lit and there really isn't anything else about it that distinguishes it from the rest of the herd, which was pretty disappointing.


message 18: by Sam (new)

Sam (bodizzy) | 16 comments I'm confused on how I feel with this one. I think it has the capacity to be a good story and I did enjoy reading it. I also want to know what happens next, because I hate unanswered questions. I didn't have to force myself to read. (And I hate doing that) I do agree with Jess about the rape threats, though. Also, during the first five chapters or so I thought I would have to start highlighting information on my kindle...because there was just so much crammed into those chapters. I know you have to establish, but I felt like I was cramming for a test for a minute there.
Maybe I should do a re-read later on and see how I feel, but for now I'm undecided.


Hannah (ignitesthestars) | 220 comments Mod
MAN i have been slow to get into this one, I think it was just a little too stock for me in the beginning? but now that the protags are actually starting to interact and there is some cohesion between the plotlines, i am starting to feel the story/characters more. the worldbuilding has not really been selling me yet (martials v scholars is not a distinction i'm finding to be historically compelling), but i'm hoping for some extra detail the further i get in that might help with that.

I HAVEN'T ACTUALLY READ THIS THREAD YET b/c spoilers, but i will definitely go back and read through once i have actually finished the story


message 20: by Hannah (last edited May 24, 2015 08:59PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hannah (ignitesthestars) | 220 comments Mod
Okay I have finished and like...I enjoyed this a lot on one level, especially with the growth of Laia's character? I like that she was allowed to be afraid in the beginning, that she acted in a way that could genuinely be considered cowardice (if understandable), and then grew into the character we see at the end of the book. She had some really great character devlopment, and I really hope to see more of her in a future book.

Elias is such a take it or leave it character for me though. I'm not super here for dude characters who have a privileged position and are going 'WEH I'M SO EVIL AND I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO SEES HOW EVIL WE ARE YOU CAN TELL I'M GOOD BECAUSE I HATE THESE EVIL THINGS'. He was at his most interesting when the author was investigating the parts of his history/personality forged by his pre-Blackcliff upbringing, and it was pretty powerful when he accepted that he was going to die. Like that was one of the few moments in the book where I was like YEAH ELIAS GET IT. For the rest, I mostly like him because of what we get to see of Laia through/because of him.

On the flipside, I absolutely loathe what his character does to Helene? Like Helene as a character, with her unbending faith in the empire and even for Elias I completely adored, but she was so reduced by all the male characters surrounding her? The narrative made her this obejewct of everyone's sexual/romantic advances, and because she's not a POV character like Laia, we get no sense of agency in how she has to deal with that. Everything about Helene gets bent and formed around either Elias or Marcus, and I was super unhappy about that. To have her main goal/focus of her character to be formed around these two dudes instead of herself made for a really crappy read and a disappointing character arc for what was otherwise a rad af character.

And yeah the rape thing was...exhausting. Like i don't think that it should have been a completely ignored theme, because rape and slavery often go hand and hand, and I think to ignore that would be a problem? But she could have addressed the issue without making its presence or absence a character trait.


message 21: by Jess (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jess (jlko89) | 112 comments Hannah wrote: "Like Helene as a character, with her unbending faith in the empire and even for Elias I completely adored, but she was so reduced by all the male characters surrounding her? The narrative made her this obejewct of everyone's sexual/romantic advances, and because she's not a POV character like Laia, we get no sense of agency in how she has to deal with that. Everything about Helene gets bent and formed around either Elias or Marcus, and I was super unhappy about that."

I agree with you. She's a great character, but it was frustrating to see her plotline largely revolve around two dudes and have her have to basically give up her agency to one of them at the end. I wanted a lot more from her character arc than I got. Also not a big fan of the way Elias treated her, both as a friend and a romantic interest. If you're not interested in her and get weirded out when she looks at you all gushy, stop trying to kiss her, you dummy! He was the most likable in the chapters leading up to his execution, unfortunately.


Hannah (ignitesthestars) | 220 comments Mod
Right exactly. Like I kept waiting for the moment where she would grab her agency by the throat and end up as Empress? The whole 'everyone underestimates me' thing was totally leading towards that. It would have been SO COOL if she had ended up as empress and like, Marcus as her Blood Shrike? That kind of power struggle would have been something fresh and new, rather than this 'lady has to do whatever shitty dude wants'. And then the conflict with her and Elias meeting again could have been between Helene's devotion and belief in the Empire, and Elias' more radical views.

And yeah lmao that too re: romantic interest. I mean, I did enjoy the fact that she had these dumb teenagers being confused and actually acknowledged teenage sexuality as something that exists, but. God he was so dumb. I liked him? But he was so dumb. And definitely best leading up to his execution, ia.


Miyanomori | 9 comments Hannah wrote: "It would have been SO COOL if she had ended up as empress and like, Marcus as her Blood Shrike?"


GOD SAME I WAS HOPING THAT WOULD HAPPEN and then it didn't. I'm still hoping it might happen if they continued the series because Helene turned out to be my favorite but haha 8'(


Hannah (ignitesthestars) | 220 comments Mod
RIGHT it'd be super cool for her to end up as Empress. Like idk there was just all of this shitty misogyny directed at her, and nothing in the book really happened to discount that?? like yeah, physically she was badass, but making her have to swear an oath to a man who literally wants to rape her is the worst removal of agency it's so bad


message 25: by Jess (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jess (jlko89) | 112 comments Marcus was such a badly written villain. There wasn't much of an impression of him besides that he was a thug and rapist, but, apparently, so were the majority of the other Masks? He's supposed to be the worst of the worst in Elias's class, and it seems like that's only because he's less honorable and more backstabby than the rest of them. I was so tired of him threatening Helene every time they interacted. I hope she cuts his head off in the sequel.

Did anyone else who read Marie Lu's Legend notice the similarities with the endings?


message 26: by Sabrina (last edited May 26, 2015 06:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sabrina (sabsey) | 10 comments Hannah wrote: "RIGHT it'd be super cool for her to end up as Empress. Like idk there was just all of this shitty misogyny directed at her, and nothing in the book really happened to discount that?? like yeah, phy..."

oh my god i agree with all of these things like Helene's character could've been handled sooo much better but instead she was just turned almost into an object that everyone was fighting over?? even though like you said she could kickass it didn't really make up for the fact that she was treated awfully and since we don't have her POV and only Elias' (who is problematic in his own right towards her) it's really hard to get a sense of her and her character

(and yes! the fact that the book never called out of any of the misogyny like i understand the environment that it's set in but even so the text never openly disagrees with it?? that also kind of comes back to the overuse of rape a bit like it got so idk tired that that threat was thrown around so much and how almost every scene between helene and another character had this underlying threat or outright sexual harrassment )


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with all of this. Helene is probably my favorite character in the whole story just because of the potential that she had - but was never allowed to execute it fully. Maybe its something the author has planned for the next book - idk. But everybody felt flat until the last few chapters and that was disappointing. I definitely thought she was going to be Emperor and was disappointed when freaking Marcus got it and she was his Blood Shrike.

And I agree Marcus really only came into his own in the chapters leading to his execution. Basically the whole book came into its own in those chapters. Which is disappointing to me that my whole opinions on whether or not I liked the whole book came down those last chapters (basically the last third).


Hannah (ignitesthestars) | 220 comments Mod
Yeah the only sort of humanity I found in Marcus was when he had to kill his brother, and we got some actual emotional depth from him. Likewise the only interaction between Elias and Marcus that was at all compelling was when Elias was all 'i just wanted to show u that i could kill u lol'.

Which in and of itself takes away from Helene again, because she had so many opportunities to kill Marcus but ~couldn't~ because of this vow about Elias, and it's just. Gross, it's so gross. My big fear with Helene in any potential sequel is that the author is going to go the 'easy' route for narrative drama and have her hunting Elias to fulfill her vow while being abused by Marcus. Like her character arc and narrative tension is going to be between this man she loves and this man she despises and the fact that she has to hunt one and listen to the other.

SHE DESERVES MORE BASICALLY. Like tbh I don't understand the point in having this 'only one woman can be chosen per year' trope if you're just going to be like 'and then everything assholes say about women in this world is proven correct' he fucking carries her over the line in the first trial uuugh.

I ended up downgrading my rating for this book. Like for the most part the ending was 4 stars for me? but the treatment of Helene and the rest of the book is dragging my feelings for the ending and Laia's character arc way down


Dreams At Dusk (dreamsatdusk) | 39 comments Hannah wrote: "Like tbh I don't understand the point in having this 'only one woman can be chosen per year' trope if you're just going to be like 'and then everything assholes say about women in this world is proven correct' he fucking carries her over the line in the first trial uuugh."

From our learning that fact onward, I kept waiting for an explanation. That there never was one, on top of what Helene kept being subjected to, was so frustrating. I was thinking at one point, you know, if girls were more a part of the school/military, and had been so historically, the story could have spent more time focused on things other than ongoing threats of assault.

What I wanted to see happen at the end was for Helene to see that loyalty to her empire was more truly served by NOT standing for Marcus as emperor and stabbing him right then and there. And then for it to have been revealed that that was the true final test for her - weighing out the difficult nuances of what loyalty means, etc. - and she is made Empress. I held out hope to the bitter end, but alas. After everything we saw of Marcus through the book, it makes me cringe to think of what could happen with her as his Blood Shrike.

Elias was pretty bland overall, though the one thing I did appreciate was there was at least some revealed stimulus for his divergent view of Martial culture and the empire. Too often we seem to just wind up with the character who's different because the plot needed someone to rebel. Great, but tell me why. I want to see what the trigger was.

I'm not really sure what I think of Laia. There were elements I liked about her character. But overall, she wasn't really very exciting to me. And how long it took her to be suspicious of the lines she was getting fed by Mazen, well.

What are the odds Cook is actually Laia's mother?

After finishing it, I still feel likening it to Rome was really tenuous. Slavery, an empire, and some Roman names <> Rome to me.


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