Laia lives in an empire where her people are seen as filth, where if they try to rebel they are met with the sharp edge of a blade. They live in constant fear of their house being raided and always expect the worst, yet When it happens it is still shocking. After her brother is arrested for treason and the rest of her family is slaughtered; she makes a dangerous agreement. In exchange for help from rebels that agree to get her brother out of prison, she will spy in the empire’s most prestigious military academy. Posing as a slave she will try to gather information not only on the school, but the empire in whole. It is a place most don’t survive, slave nor student.
Elias is plagued by the bloodshed he has caused, though he is the finest soldier at the academy he yearns for freedom. He cheers for death longside his classmates but loathes himself for it. As he prepares to escape from a life murder, though all have been executed if caught. Days before he makes his move he is chosen to compete against his friends and peers in a competition for the crown, something most all would risk their life for. What he doesn't realize is that the feelings he develops after bringing medicine to a scholar slave named Laia may be his downfall.
An Ember in The Ashes is able to describe the very complex feelings of murder and Betrayal in a way that immerses you in the character. “I descend into nightmares. The nightmares transformed into a black pit of pain, and the pain stalks me like a vengeful twin.” many times in the book the characters are plagued by the death they caused, which gives you a feeling of knowing the character on a personal level.
Another concept that makes this book so emotional is that most of the characters are out for themselves, the goal of most people in this book is to get to free lands and do whatever they can to do that. Since most people are out for themselves, betrayal creates many unexpected twists.
An Ember in the ashes is unlike any other books I have read because it feels real, Like you are immersed in the story.