This is one of those books I had a lot of trouble getting into, but on a recent cross country flight with no Internet, I managed to get through it. I’m glad I finally did read it, but it just felt like it was missing something…
I felt a little cheated at the end of the novel, because this was TOTALLY not a stand alone novel as it was marketed. The final ‘resolution’ only caused more problems and did little to nothing to tie up all the loose ends flying around.
The pacing was a bit slow in paces, and I felt like I spent a little too much time watching our two main characters, Laia and Elias, debate the same things over and over in their mind without coming to any kind of resolution. Whatever shape that romance was in (not a triangle, more like a really bent line?) it felt really forced.
The characters were interesting. Laia had great potential and I was really expecting her to become this warrior by the end of the novel. Elias was a warrior/but not at the begining of the novel, but I couldn’t quite track his character development either. Their relationships to the various characters of their world was very complex, and I did enjoy that. I would have preferred to have a few of their perspectives thrown into the story as well, because I think that would have helped provide some of the alternating perspective/back story I felt it needed at times.
Can we talk about the world these characters live in for a moment? That was beautiful. I love that it had an ancient Rome vibe to it, and I could really see some of the places and culture come to life. Especially the moon festival, that was great! The divide between the Scholars and Martials was so clear cut to me and I would have loved to get more time to explore their anger towards each other and especially more about the Resistance. The creatures (Jinn, Nightbringer, etc) were INCREDIBLE. They felt so perfect in the world, and were so much more interesting than the standard fantasy novel’s dragon or witch. I think the author excelled in the world building department.
If my library gets the second book in and I’m not reading anything, I may pick it up. It left on such a huge cliff hanger, part of me is hoping that the second book holds the resolution and answers I was looking for from this one. Ultimately, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the story or characters, just the world they lived in.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.