Monday, July 17, 2017

Audiobook Review: An Ember In The Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes By Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Release Date: April 28th, 2015
Format: Audiobook narrated by Fiona Hardingham & Steve West
Summary via Goodreads
My Rating: ★★ 

Goodreads ★ Amazon  B&N  TBD
Laia, 17, is a coward and so far, it’s kept her alive. As a Scholar living under the brutal rule of the Martial Empire, Laia knows that courage will only get her killed. Then the Martials imprison Laia’s brother for treason. To save him from execution, Laia must step out of the shadows and embark on a quest that will take her from the haunted catacombs of her city to the halls of Blackcliff Academy, where the Empire trains its most feared soldiers. She must find the courage to defy everything the Martials stand for in a place where defiance has one outcome: death.

Elias, 20, is Blackcliff’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Sickened by the prospect of hunting and killing Scholars who oppose the Empire, Elias decides to desert the military. But before he can run, he’s ordered to participate in the Trials, a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor. Elias must wage war in the Trials with skill and ferocity while struggling with a deep inner ambivalence. For while losing the Trials might cost him his life, winning them could cost him his soul.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at Blackcliff, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the Empire itself.
I love when a good audiobook can completely change my thought on a book. I have to hand it to dual narrators Fiona Hardingham and Steve West because they really sold this book for me. (They also narrated the Scorpio Races, which I really enjoyed). I chose to do this on audio because when this book first came out and I read the summary, I just had no interest in reading it. Since this book is so popular it was kind of hard to stay away, so I finally wanted to try it, and boy was I wrong! I love when audiobooks can do that, and it's one of the reasons I love doing books on audio. Fiona & Steve's dual narrations bounce off each other so well, and I think they do a good job respectively as Laia and Elias. Although, I didn't care for Fiona's voice for Cook, but otherwise I thought all her other voices were great.

The world in this novel is pretty grim, but since I'm currently replaying Skyrim I couldn't help but to compare the politics in this world to the politics in that game. They both are based on Roman Imperial Society, with an evil Empire that is basically taking over everything, so I think that definitely helps!

I wasn't really expecting the slight fantasy elements in this novel, but I think for this story it works so well. I definitely want to know more about the Masks. Why do they bond with their wearer at a certain point? Also what exactly are the Augurs? I don't know if these questions will be answered in the next book, but I definitely want to see where Laia and Elias's story go next.

I've read some reviews that think Laia is super boring and all she does is walk around and be a slave, but I didn't really feel that way about her. Maybe Fiona's narration of her brought he character more to life for me, but I really enjoyed listening to her. At times her situation was really depressing, but I kept holding out hope that she would find a way out of this. Laia is doing all of this for the only family she has left, so it's not like she has a lot of options or anything more she could possibly lose. So I understood why she was doing what she was doing.

I loved Elias, and I really felt for him. He was a kind soul that was thrust into this life that he definitely did not want. I'm really interested to see where he goes from this story, and I want to know more about his background living with the tribes. I loved that he was kind to Laia when no one else was. I also really liked his relationship with Helene, even though he mucked it up a little bit. I liked Helene in the end of this novel, but I had some issues with her. I think she thinks she is doing the right thing by being apart of the Empire. She believes in order and The Empire gives her that, but I also can't reconcile that she is just okay with slavery. That really bothered me!

Oh, and I haven't even talked about The Commandant yet! I have a lot of swear words to describe her that I won't write on this blog, but...she's straight up evil! I really don't understand how this woman can be this diabolic and just mean! I like that Tahir wrote her as a woman and not a man, because woman can be evil characters too. She is definitely a villain I love to hate.

So I'm kind of mad at myself for not starting this one sooner, but I'm glad the second book is already out so I can start it soon. This was a book I gave a second chance to, and I'm really glad I did.

Have you read this book? What do you think? Does the sequel give the first justice?

Happy Reads Everyone!