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Book of the Moment Join us to read and discuss the current and past books of the moment!

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Old 02-01-2020, 07:26 PM
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Default 'An Ember in the Ashes Series' by Sabaa Tahir (Sa16+) [SPOILERS]


Welcome to The Book Seekers' Book of the Month for February 2020!

During February, we read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - and we noticed how hooked you all got! So we're opening up the discussion thread for the whole series: come in, settle down and discuss An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night, A Reaper at the Gates and, of course, the highly anticipated finale, A Sky Beyond the Storm!


Age Rating | Sa16+
Genre | Fantasy
Summary from Goodreads | 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.

CONTENT WARNINGS
SPOILER!!: CW
Moderate violence. Mentions (no descriptions) of rape and suicide.

Let's go over some ground rules...
  • All Book Club Rules and SnitchSeeker Board Rules apply in this forum.
  • You can discuss ANYTHING that is related to An Ember in the Ashes in here. However, it must be kept SPOILER FREE until at least February 15th. You can include spoiler-y content as long as it is under a spoiler tag. Remember that other people might not be as far along in the book as you.
    • Any posts that contain spoilers (that aren't under spoiler tags) will be edited by a Book Club mod.
  • This discussion will be active until March 15th. That being said, the thread will remain open for everyone to discuss the book after that time, too.

There's more? There is! While we're reading and discussing An Ember in the Ashes, there are other related things that you can get involved with.
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If you have issues or queries, contact Harron Peasley, natekka or Stormdancer – and don't forget to nominate books for future Book of the Months!
Ready, Set, Read!
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Old 02-02-2020, 05:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Sooo, I know we were supposed to start this one yesterday, but I actually finished it yesterday lol. I started it at the end of January and I could hardly put it down. It was really so good! There might have been an overused trope or two in there, but it really kept my interest and I really, really enjoyed it. I know this is a series so I'm going to have to pick up the next one. But I gave it five stars (which some of you know I'm a little stingy with) and I'm really excited to talk to you guys about it. I hope you all love it too!
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Old 02-03-2020, 03:57 PM   #3 (permalink)


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So Emjay told me to start this as my read before a new release I’ve been waiting for Dame out. I’m about halfway and hooked. So far I can agree about some of the troupe stuff. But I’m hooked.
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Currently, I'm about 3 hours off finishing the audio book. I decided to change format with this reread, rather than reading it again on my kindle.

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Originally Posted by emjay View Post
Sooo, I know we were supposed to start this one yesterday, but I actually finished it yesterday lol. I started it at the end of January and I could hardly put it down. It was really so good! There might have been an overused trope or two in there, but it really kept my interest and I really, really enjoyed it. I know this is a series so I'm going to have to pick up the next one. But I gave it five stars (which some of you know I'm a little stingy with) and I'm really excited to talk to you guys about it. I hope you all love it too!
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So Emjay told me to start this as my read before a new release Iíve been waiting for Dame out. Iím about halfway and hooked. So far I can agree about some of the troupe stuff. But Iím hooked.
I'm so, SO happy that you two are enjoying it! I completely agree with you on the troupes but I'm a sucker for those troupes so I never minded. I can't wait to discuss this book with you both in more depth soon!

@MJ: It's one of my favourite books of all time! I've read the second book and I enjoyed that one, too. I still need to read the third book.
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Old 02-08-2020, 02:43 AM   #5 (permalink)

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I finished this book today! It was a quick read, and I really enjoyed it. I spent a lot of time thinking I knew exactly what was going to happen next, and then immediately figuring out that I was wrong.

I'm definitely going to pick up the next one in this series.
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:11 AM   #6 (permalink)


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After finishing I need to talk with others about how they visualize the scenery. I’ve got a hodgepodge of images.
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Old 02-13-2020, 02:25 AM   #7 (permalink)

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Let's talk about the scenery! Which one in particular were you trying to envision? Blackcliff?
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:54 AM   #8 (permalink)


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Let's talk about the scenery! Which one in particular were you trying to envision? Blackcliff?
Iím going to go ahead and spoiler this just so people donít accidentally see something they havenít read about yet.
Text Cut: SPOILER!!!!

Blackcliff is an odd mixture to me. Like Iím picturing it in the middle of no where in the woods. Which I know isnít the case. And i for some reason keep picturing marble or something shiny for all of buildings. But run down kind of like divergent and hunger games.

And I donít know why but the masks remind me of some movie Iíve seen but canít recall where they float. And so the commander I kept picturing as a floating mask. but also kept seeing her as the things that steal eggs in Spyro which I know isnít even close, and a mix of the headmistress from monsters university.
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Old 02-15-2020, 12:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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SPOILER FREE IS NO MORE!

Now that it's the 15th, let's get this discussion really going. First, tell me your initial thoughts after finishing the book. What did you like the most? What did you perhaps not like as much? Did you have any expectations going into the book, and where they met?
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Old 02-16-2020, 03:47 PM   #10 (permalink)

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I finished listening to this book today. I really enjoyed it and can't wait to get the second one. Something I've come to lean with Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and even Harry Potter do not fall for any of the characters in the first book because someone you love will die by the third. I never listen to myself and I fall for so many characters. This book was no exceptions, my first thought with Laia was she was a brilliant girl that just needed to see it for herself. As the story went on I picked up on a few things such as Mazan being a lying jerk from the start. I had a feeling he would never do what he says and still don't fully believe he actually knows where her brother is. I love Elias, his struggles make you really feel for him and understand him. The author makes him very likeable and you want to go hug him and protect him, I feel the same with Laia and Izzi.

Cook was one I had trouble liking at first, I don't know what it was about her, but I didn't trust her character for a while and even when Laia went back I was worried Cook might just turn her in. I still don't trust Helene and I'm not a huge fan of hers, though I've gone back and forth with it. Elias' grandfather I had a feeling had a heart even though he seemed to be just like the others and in the end, being smuggled out because he wanted to save Elias showed me that he did.

In the end, I can't wait to read the second book and find out what happens next. I'm not sure which male I ship Laia with yet, I like both so much for different reasons. I hope to see Izzi again and Elias' grandfather helping him. I would love to see Mazan and the Commandant defeated.

Marcus is another I can't stand. He is horrible and I've wanted to see him defeated from the beginning. There was only one instance that I saw a little shift in him and hoped that maybe he would turn, learn, change, but it quickly went away and he went back to the way he had been raised/brainwashed by the training he has had since youth.
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Old 02-16-2020, 05:58 PM   #11 (permalink)


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My expectations: I went in not expecting much. Sure everyone said how good it was so I figured you all wouldnít pull my leg. But Iíve found while other people love books like the hunger games or divergent. I cannot be forced into reading those books otherwise I slowly start to hate the story all together even if i would like the story on my own. I was actually really surprised by how drawn in i got with it.

I really liked getting to see both Elias and Laiaís perspective. In other books similar to this I always wanted to know what the other ďhero/heroineĒ if you will was doing. Here I got to see just that. I got to see what was running through his head, what he was thinking exactly. It was really neat.

I got really frustrated around the second task when Elias was becoming a pushover. Like you were clearly marked for greatness of some kind, figure it out and do something about it. But then it all switched and went going way faster.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bazinga View Post
As the story went on I picked up on a few things such as Mazan being a lying jerk from the start. I had a feeling he would never do what he says and still don't fully believe he actually knows where her brother is.
I disliked him from the beginning. He just left a bad taste in my mouth and felt like an absolute traitor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bazinga View Post
I still don't trust Helene and I'm not a huge fan of hers, though I've gone back and forth with it.
Ugh. Helene. She was soooo frustrating. It was like she was rough and trouble emotionless then all the sudden big bold feelings for Elias. And not to mention she fluctuated so hard between follow the rules and go against them that I couldnít ever establish if I liked her at all. Iím interested to see if she changes her ways in the coming book.

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Originally Posted by Bazinga View Post
I'm not sure which male I ship Laia with yet, I like both so much for different reasons. I hope to see Izzi again and Elias' grandfather helping him. I would love to see Mazan and the Commandant defeated.
Right? The comment from the Aguars mentioning this was 100% on point about her feelings for the two boys and just how different they are. I may actually cry tears of happiness at the defeat of Mazan and Commandant.
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Old 02-17-2020, 02:36 AM   #12 (permalink)

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Originally Posted by siriusblackliveson View Post
Iím going to go ahead and spoiler this just so people donít accidentally see something they havenít read about yet.
Text Cut: SPOILER!!!!

Blackcliff is an odd mixture to me. Like Iím picturing it in the middle of no where in the woods. Which I know isnít the case. And i for some reason keep picturing marble or something shiny for all of buildings. But run down kind of like divergent and hunger games.

And I donít know why but the masks remind me of some movie Iíve seen but canít recall where they float. And so the commander I kept picturing as a floating mask. but also kept seeing her as the things that steal eggs in Spyro which I know isnít even close, and a mix of the headmistress from monsters university.
I'm not going to spoiler my response, since we're out of the spoiler zone. It sounds like your mind is FULL of interesting visualizations. I want to visit there! For me, Blackcliff is just dark and foreboding and castle-y. Like Dark Hogwarts with no magic.

I have trouble remembering the masks until someone mentions them, so I often tried to picture characters and then would have to mentally edit the mask in when it came up. It'll stick eventually!

Quote:
Originally Posted by forget-me-nat View Post
Now that it's the 15th, let's get this discussion really going. First, tell me your initial thoughts after finishing the book. What did you like the most? What did you perhaps not like as much? Did you have any expectations going into the book, and where they met?
I read this book without even reading the synopsis, so I didn't have any expectation about where the plot was going. There were a few times where I thought I knew what was going to happen next and then was pleasantly surprised that I had no clue what was happening when it happened. I sort of think fantasy novels play to common themes and can be predictable... perhaps people found this one predictable too, but I didn't!

I found myself wanting to shake Laia and make her stop doubting she could do things and just DO them, but we see so many strong female characters who know they are strong and act completely foolhardy. It's nice to see a character who shows courage even when it's hard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bazinga View Post
I finished listening to this book today. I really enjoyed it and can't wait to get the second one. Something I've come to lean with Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and even Harry Potter do not fall for any of the characters in the first book because someone you love will die by the third. I never listen to myself and I fall for so many characters. This book was no exceptions, my first thought with Laia was she was a brilliant girl that just needed to see it for herself. As the story went on I picked up on a few things such as Mazan being a lying jerk from the start. I had a feeling he would never do what he says and still don't fully believe he actually knows where her brother is. I love Elias, his struggles make you really feel for him and understand him. The author makes him very likeable and you want to go hug him and protect him, I feel the same with Laia and Izzi.

Cook was one I had trouble liking at first, I don't know what it was about her, but I didn't trust her character for a while and even when Laia went back I was worried Cook might just turn her in. I still don't trust Helene and I'm not a huge fan of hers, though I've gone back and forth with it. Elias' grandfather I had a feeling had a heart even though he seemed to be just like the others and in the end, being smuggled out because he wanted to save Elias showed me that he did.

In the end, I can't wait to read the second book and find out what happens next. I'm not sure which male I ship Laia with yet, I like both so much for different reasons. I hope to see Izzi again and Elias' grandfather helping him. I would love to see Mazan and the Commandant defeated.

Marcus is another I can't stand. He is horrible and I've wanted to see him defeated from the beginning. There was only one instance that I saw a little shift in him and hoped that maybe he would turn, learn, change, but it quickly went away and he went back to the way he had been raised/brainwashed by the training he has had since youth.
You have a lot of feelings about the characters, Ali. I think that's a mark of a good book. I can't wait to find out more about Cook's story. Personally, I kept trying to guess who she was, as if they had provided clues along the way, but she didn't end up having a mysterious reveal in this book. Maybe she never will (disappointing!).

The end of this book leads me to believe we won't see a lot of these characters again. I hate plot threads left unresolved!
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Old 02-17-2020, 03:03 AM   #13 (permalink)
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So I finished this book last night and OH. MY. GOSH. I ate it up. I couldn't stop reading and I immediately ordered the second one as soon as I finished. I'm a sucker for these dystopian young adult novels, I really am.

Although to be honest the love triangle trope is getting exhausting, but that may be because I read so many of these books that they're just downright predictable. Although this is more of a love square...I ship Laia by herself. Girl power and all. She don't need a man.

I don't think I've ever wanted to reach through a book and smack a character as much as The Commandant. And we've seen some pretty vile characters in YA novels - there was just something about how COLD and brutal she was, for literally no reason other than to exert power, that really made my blood boil. And the way she treated Elias, who is an absolute gem and my favorite character by far, was just disgusting. Ugh. Can't wait to see some good old fashion revenge against her.

Anyways yeah. I loved it. FIVE STARS!
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Old 02-17-2020, 03:05 AM   #14 (permalink)

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I'm not going to spoiler my response, since we're out of the spoiler zone. It sounds like your mind is FULL of interesting visualizations. I want to visit there! For me, Blackcliff is just dark and foreboding and castle-y. Like Dark Hogwarts with no magic.

I have trouble remembering the masks until someone mentions them, so I often tried to picture characters and then would have to mentally edit the mask in when it came up. It'll stick eventually!



I read this book without even reading the synopsis, so I didn't have any expectation about where the plot was going. There were a few times where I thought I knew what was going to happen next and then was pleasantly surprised that I had no clue what was happening when it happened. I sort of think fantasy novels play to common themes and can be predictable... perhaps people found this one predictable too, but I didn't!

I found myself wanting to shake Laia and make her stop doubting she could do things and just DO them, but we see so many strong female characters who know they are strong and act completely foolhardy. It's nice to see a character who shows courage even when it's hard.



You have a lot of feelings about the characters, Ali. I think that's a mark of a good book. I can't wait to find out more about Cook's story. Personally, I kept trying to guess who she was, as if they had provided clues along the way, but she didn't end up having a mysterious reveal in this book. Maybe she never will (disappointing!).

The end of this book leads me to believe we won't see a lot of these characters again. I hate plot threads left unresolved!
I think you are right on some, but I do think we will have to see Marcus, Mazan, and the Commandant. Those three at least are very tied to the outcome of the different groups that I think we will see them by the third book.
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:21 AM   #15 (permalink)

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I have somehow avoided this book all together and I do not like it. I'm going to read it as soon as I can and I shall most likely post in here much much later!! Sorrrrryyyy
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Old 02-20-2020, 08:05 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I finally finished this! I loved it. I had a hard time picturing the setting at first, until they started talking about "The Empire" and then I just pictured like a bunch of Kylo Rens in training at a Sith lair because they're about to participate in the 177th annual Hunger Games.

Elias is my favorite character by far, and I also like Izzi and Cain. I can't wait to read the sequel! I don't usually get into fantasy novels anymore, but I really enjoyed this one. It had twists, turns, and did not rely too much on macguffins to deliver the post-apocalyptic feel of the story.

One character I never really connected with? Laia. Am I the only one who thought her relationship with her brother was strange? It wasn't developed enough in the book's exposition to serve as her "spine" or motivating experience, imo.
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Old 02-21-2020, 01:55 AM   #17 (permalink)


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I finally finished this! I loved it. I had a hard time picturing the setting at first, until they started talking about "The Empire" and then I just pictured like a bunch of Kylo Rens in training at a Sith lair because they're about to participate in the 177th annual Hunger Games.
The 177th annual hunger games made me giggle more than I should.

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One character I never really connected with? Laia. Am I the only one who thought her relationship with her brother was strange? It wasn't developed enough in the book's exposition to serve as her "spine" or motivating experience, imo.
I too struggled to connect with her. It made reading her chapters so hard. She was wishy washy to me. On one hand she would be all letís be brave and then on the other she was like I canít do anything because Iím so afraid.

But it didnít seem like she was all that close to her brother to go through life or death. But maybe itís developed more. Iím curious to know a bit more about the iron smith. He intrigued me.
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:55 AM   #18 (permalink)

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So, I’m 330 pages in and I just had to stop because I’m so frustrated. I get the sense that I know what is going to happen and I don’t want it to happen!!! These characters are so infuriating.

In all seriousness, I’m enjoying the book so far and I’m curious to see what happens when I finish it. First impressions:

Not the biggest fan of Laia which kind of makes me sad. I’m guessing there are more books after this so she’ll develop and become this strong female character but so far, I’m not of her. Maybe its because she’s doing all of this for her brother but at the beginning, it started with her saying that they’d been growing apart and he’d been keeping secrets from her.

Next, I feel like I’m back in school here but…In my head, I want certain characters to end up with each other and I don’t think it’s going to happen and it’s making me sad even before I finish the book. Feel free to tell me I’m stuuuupid or if you have a different pairing you prefer but I just want Elias and Helene to end up together.

AASDIFUHWOUEFOHE. Anyway, I’m going back to reading it now because I want to finish the book today hopefully. Also, I have no idea if you guys have talked about any of this because I’m avoiding spoilers.
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Old 02-23-2020, 02:06 PM   #19 (permalink)
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AHH. So much discussion, I love it!

I've been popping my head in and out over the past few days and I'm really enjoying hearing all of your thoughts on the book and the characters. It's interesting how some opinions differ from my own and some are very similar.

Unlike several of you, I actually really like both Helene and Laia. This might be because I've read the second book as well and there is (as you would hope) character development in that book. Helene is a character that I think has a lot of potential tbh. That being said, I think Ern hit the nail on the head and I feel the same way as she does about Laia in this book.

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I found myself wanting to shake Laia and make her stop doubting she could do things and just DO them, but we see so many strong female characters who know they are strong and act completely foolhardy. It's nice to see a character who shows courage even when it's hard.
There has also been talk of shipping, so I'm curious. Which pairing(s) do you think like best and would want to see developed more in the next book?

There are many more character-related questions I want to pose but first I would love for us to dive into visuals and theme a bit more.

As some of you pointed out, there are many visual aspects to this world - Blackcliff Academy and the Masks, for example. We aren't told that much about HOW the masks work and what - aside from signifying rank - their purpose is. What are your thoughts on what the masks look like? And how do you picture Blackcliff? Sabaa Tahir based it on Ancient Rome but, personally, I quite like Ern's description of Dark Hogwarts without the magic.

Finally, what do you think is the significance of the book's title, An Ember in the Ashes?


BONUS EXTRA THING FOR MUSIC LOVERS:

Sabaa Tahir actually created playlists for many of the characters, which I thought you might be interested in listening to. If anybody has any favourites from these playlists, I would love to know. Clicky clicky. There are specific playlists for Elias, Laia and Helene, if you want to skip straight to those.
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:02 PM   #20 (permalink)
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As far as shipping goes, the author is def trying to get us to root for Elias/Laia but I honestly really would rather have Laia/Keenan get together because they both KNOW what the other is going through. They're both the last of their family and have lost essentially everything to the Empire. And Elias/Helene seem like a MUCH better fit to me.
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:11 PM   #21 (permalink)

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As far as shipping goes, the author is def trying to get us to root for Elias/Laia but I honestly really would rather have Laia/Keenan get together because they both KNOW what the other is going through. They're both the last of their family and have lost essentially everything to the Empire. And Elias/Helene seem like a MUCH better fit to me.
I'm not sure what it is but I like Helene. I guess because I've been damaged by someone in the love department, I can sympathise with her. I was 100% in the Elias/Helene camp. I was never fussed with Keenan really and Laia was a slow burner for me so I kind of wanted those to end up together for that reason.

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What are your thoughts on what the masks look like? And how do you picture Blackcliff? Sabaa Tahir based it on Ancient Rome but, personally, I quite like Ern's description of Dark Hogwarts without the magic.
I really enjoyed reading the Percy Jackson books and then the Heroes of Olympus books after so I always kind of pictured Blackcliff similarly to how I pictured Camp Jupiter but with more sand.

As for the masks, my interpretation of them was that were kind of like secret police? Kind of like the elite part of the police. I always forgot to picture them in masks for some reason and then whenever I read the word mask, I'd have to stop and picture the scene again
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Old 02-24-2020, 01:11 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by siriusblackliveson View Post
The 177th annual hunger games made me giggle more than I should.

I too struggled to connect with her. It made reading her chapters so hard. She was wishy washy to me. On one hand she would be all letís be brave and then on the other she was like I canít do anything because Iím so afraid.

But it didnít seem like she was all that close to her brother to go through life or death. But maybe itís developed more. Iím curious to know a bit more about the iron smith. He intrigued me.
hehe.

I will say that she gets better. I've read the second book and have started on the third, and Laia definitely grows on you.

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AHH. So much discussion, I love it!

I've been popping my head in and out over the past few days and I'm really enjoying hearing all of your thoughts on the book and the characters. It's interesting how some opinions differ from my own and some are very similar.

Unlike several of you, I actually really like both Helene and Laia. This might be because I've read the second book as well and there is (as you would hope) character development in that book. Helene is a character that I think has a lot of potential tbh. That being said, I think Ern hit the nail on the head and I feel the same way as she does about Laia in this book.



There has also been talk of shipping, so I'm curious. Which pairing(s) do you think like best and would want to see developed more in the next book?

There are many more character-related questions I want to pose but first I would love for us to dive into visuals and theme a bit more.

As some of you pointed out, there are many visual aspects to this world - Blackcliff Academy and the Masks, for example. We aren't told that much about HOW the masks work and what - aside from signifying rank - their purpose is. What are your thoughts on what the masks look like? And how do you picture Blackcliff? Sabaa Tahir based it on Ancient Rome but, personally, I quite like Ern's description of Dark Hogwarts without the magic.

Finally, what do you think is the significance of the book's title, An Ember in the Ashes?


BONUS EXTRA THING FOR MUSIC LOVERS:

Sabaa Tahir actually created playlists for many of the characters, which I thought you might be interested in listening to. If anybody has any favourites from these playlists, I would love to know. Clicky clicky. There are specific playlists for Elias, Laia and Helene, if you want to skip straight to those.
So I read the second book and I dunno, I still don't really like Helene.

She DOES have some redeeming qualities, but anyone who is super loyal to the Empire just irks me. I feel like I know more of the masks now, though, and they also grow on you some...

Elias is still my favorite.
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Old 03-11-2020, 01:17 AM   #23 (permalink)

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I just finished the second book in this series and I would be happy to discuss it with ANYONE who wants (in spoilers).
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Old 03-11-2020, 11:45 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I just finished the second book in this series and I would be happy to discuss it with ANYONE who wants (in spoilers).
I'm in!!!!!!!!!

SPOILER!!: WELL, WHAT DID YOU THINK?!
I loved it.
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Old 03-12-2020, 01:08 AM   #25 (permalink)
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My mum actually got me into this series you guys make me want to reread it so I can share all my thoughts. I really enjoyed it too. Just wait till you finish them all!
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