Saturday, 20 February 2016

An Ember In the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir

Isn't it beautiful?

Hello everyone! The thing is, I haven't been able to write anything of circumstance for mainly two reasons:
a) My laptop charger died and I was left stranded
b) I've been suffering a very bad case of writer's block and ergo, have not been able to execute my ideas.

Today, I am going to be reviewing this amazing book I have had the pleasure of reading. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, is a high fantasy YA novel that skyrocketed last year's best seller list. And after a long overdue spell, I picked up a copy from my library and decided to give it a go. I wasn't disappointed. Sabaa Tahir is a truly amazing writer who has a gift of weaving words together in a way that will both, make you cry or smile so wide that you'd give the Cheshire Cat a run for his money.

There are not many female, Muslim authors in the YA world. And even fewer are renowned for their talent. I believe that Sabaa Tahir, joins the extremely small list which includes the likes of Tahereh Mafi, who as we all know, is mind blowing-ly amazing. Authors like them, give hope to an up and coming author, that maybe, just maybe, we might make it. And Sabaa Tahir does just that.

In An Ember in the Ashes, society is divided into three main factions:

The Scholars – The Scholars are a group of oppressed individuals who once ruled the land that has since been occupied by the Martial Empire. Many Scholars are enslaved by the Martials, and those who are not enslaved live a difficult, poverty-stricken life.
The Martials – The Martials make up the brutal ruling class of the Martial Empire. They have, for 500 years, oppressed and enslaved the Scholars. The Martials are a military-focused group of people, with a large army and a group of elite soldiers within that army who are referred to as the "Masks." The Tribes – The Tribes are a group of nomads inspired by the Bedouin Tribes of North Africa.

Laia, the daughter of revolutionary scholars is an innocent girl who would do anything to save her brother. Elias, a boy abandoned by his mother at birth, is both determined to do what is right and to also bring honour to his family, and most importantly, his grandfather.

The story is woven with the corruptness of revolutionary regimes, who more often than not, covet power more than they covet freedom; loyalty, indifference, love, honour, but most importantly, power.

The scholars being the class of rulers (now oppressed) who wrongly killed an entire to species to acquire knowledge that isn't theirs to take and The Martials who take control of the kingdom with the help of someone who is bent on destruction and grief. A new concept, in the world of high-fantasy, but definitely not unheard of, this book will make you cry, laugh and wail in sorrow and leave you extremely disappointed that the book has ended.

The book does justice to Islamic culture and the legend of Djinns and spirits and the nomadic culture, a rarity in itself. And thank God, she didn't make the Djinns as wish-granting jolly creatures or a completely evil species, bent on destruction.

The author got the inspiration for the book when she read about Kashmiri women, whose husbands and other family members would be thrown into prisons and never heard from again. All I can say from that, is that she definitely did the concept justice.

Rating: 4.7/5

Zoe Summers

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