The Amateur Critic: An Ember In The Ashes

“There are two kinds of guilt: the kind that drowns you until you’re useless, and the kind that fires your soul to purpose.”

Sabaa Tahir, An Ember in the Ashes


This is one of the books I received on my birthday and Oh. My. God. I recently read a review of this by Sarah at The Critiquing Chemist and it reminded me of this draft I wrote ages ago.

This story is told in alternating perspectives. One one side we have Laia, part of the community of scholars, many of who are now illiterate, enslaved by the Martial Empire and poor. Laia’s brother is arrested and she must spy on the cruel, ruthless Commandant to free him.On the other hand we have Elias. One of the best Masks-in-training of the country and perfectly capable of being the next emperor. Just one problem. He hates the kingdom and plans on deserting and it doesn’t help that he is the son of the Commandant.



She isn’t one of the typical badass female characters who know what to do and happen to be perfect no matter what. She has her flaws, but by no means is she weak. Her determination to free her brother gave her the courage to face daily torture, harassment and humiliation. Her fighting spirit is what makes me love her.


He is described as one of the best Masks-in-training of the kingdom; a born fighter with an amazing instinct. But unlike the others, Elias has his morals. He knows the difference between right and wrong. He knows the way of the kingdom are wrong. He knows the Commandant is wrong.

Final Rant

At first, I thought this would be one of the cliché fantasy stories with a typical love triangle but it is so much more than that. I think a lot of people would agree with me if I say the best books are the ones which provoke strong emotions in you. This book would definitely come under that category.

Honestly, I don’t even care about the love triangle (square?) anymore. This isn’t the general kind where someone has to choose between Hot Guy#1 and Hot Guy#2. The characters are so well developed that you genuinely care about what happens to them.

Another thing I’d like to address is that this book was nasty. Their world was nasty. The Commandment is a sadistic evil hellbitch. There’s torture, child abuse and threat of rape. Of course, all of it worked. As a reader, I could feel for the characters. I was worried about them. I wanted to know what happened to them. I cared for them.

The book left a lot of unanswered questions. What will happen to Helene? What happened of the Resistance? What happened to the Commandment? Did she ever really care for Elias? What is the Cook’s past? Where did Izzy go? How will Keenan react? Do Laia and Elias get together? How will Helene react? Do they survive? What does Marcus do? Did he ever feel any remorse for his brother?

I’m glad the sequel has come out. I know I can’t buy it until my exams are over, but I’ll make sure to review that too.



Comment below and tell me if you’ve read the book! If you haven’t, please go read it right away.

Criticism is welcome.



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