Audiobook Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Posted December 29, 2015 by Sophia

Audiobook Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Audiobook Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa TahirAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
An Ember in the Ashes #1
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham, Steve West
Length: 15 Hours, 22 Minutes
Published by Listening Library on April 28, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library

Laia is a slave. 

Elias is a soldier. 

Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.


In the Martial Empire, Laia lives as a scholar – until her brother is arrested by Masks. To save her brother, Laia looks for the rebellion, going undercover as a slave in an academy for Masks and spying for the rebellion in exchange for her brother’s safety. She meets Elias, a soldier at the academy who has no desire to become one of them.

An Ember in the Ashes took forever to read listen – and I mean forever (which basically means two months).

I’m not exactly as hyped as everyone else. Primarily, I think this is just due to the fact An Ember in the Ashes is sooo bleeping long and my attention span is equivalent of a fly’s when it comes to debut novels that are really long (I’m a lot more tolerant to authors whose works I’m familiar with). In Tahir’s case, though, I just feel the descriptions and details are a little too long – but I certainly can’t complain about it because I adore details that mean world building is taking place.

I will, however, complain about the academy in general, and the love triangle. Favoritism by the Commandant is obviously being played here – there are just so many levels of wrong when no explanation is needed when you’re caught doing something wrong. >_<

And well… Keenan. He still feels like a stranger to me, so if I’m going to ship, I’ll go ship Laia and Elias. I understand Elias, and I understand Laia. I secretly adore them, even if the book is whoppishly huge. And I will go down with that ship until I warm up to stranger boy Keenan who seems to not have a desire to be a part of a corrupt-ish rebellion, but does not seem to have a life otherwise.

And if the sequel does not have me warming up to stranger boy, then I will make a stranger danger sign.

Anyways, not jumping on the hype train…. (aside from best title ever).

It could also just be due to the fact Fiona Hardingham and Steve West (the entire narration, honestly) are just really, really quiet and I had to bring the volume to top notch to even hear clearly. I know audiobooks are more quiet compared to music – I just think bringing the volume up to the maximum is a horrible, horrible thing for me to have to do for clarity (it’s all about my ears). In all honesty, though, they’re not bad narrators – they bring out the perfect amount of accent without being too heavy.

Hands down, though, I think I would have enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes immensely if it weren’t so daunting and didn’t take so years.

Sophia started blogging in February 2012 for the hell of it and is surprisingly still around. She has a GIF for nearly everything, probably listens to too much K-Pop and is generally in an existential crisis of sorts (she's trying her best). In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's in Communications and minor in Women's Studies. More of her bookish reviews and K-pop Roundups can be found at The Arts STL.

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