What is worse than living in a Roman Empire-ish land? Living in a Roman Empire-ish land alone, your grandparents having been killed in front of you, and your brother possibly soon dead too. Having to make a deal in which you spy the nastiest woman to ever walk the earth just so your brother might have a shot at being saved, while you are continously on alert because of the whipping, the threat of rape, and discovery.
Talk about high stakes.
And that's just Laia.
No, seriously, An Ember in the Ashes is packed with super high stakes, suspense, conflict, tension... Every crap a good story needs when there are no kisses. Because that was the only thing that this thing was missing. More kisses.
Which brings me to the topic of romance. 'Romance' isn't exactly how I'd describe the mess of feelings bouncing off Laia, Elias, Helene, (Keenan?) +. Let's just leave it at attraction. And that's just fine, because in this situation, the page time alloted to attraction was less than I'm used to, but perfect for this kind of story. It's just not realistic that while your neck is on the line, you're daydreaming about the hot soldier boy, or the cute, but intense redhead.
The descriptions of battle, specially one very hardcore one, were completely awesome! They were raw, and as the killing blows piled up, I even teared up a bit.
There are two kinds of guilt. The kind that's a burden, and the kind that gives you purpose. Let your guilt be your fuel. Let it remind you of who you want to be. Draw a line in your mind. Never cross it again. You have a soul. It's damaged, bbut it's still there.
Towards the end, even though the pace didn't let up, it did made room for character development, tons of it actually. And that was wonderful. The end left me with a lot of unanswered questions, because, if you think about it, not much was wrapped up in terms of the plot plot. It seemed to me that the end was so character focused, that the other things to be ressolved were put on wait.
But that's not such a bad thing!
I just mention it because after I closed the book, feeling I'd just read something really good, and went about my day... I then realized that most of the goals the characters had started with weren't achieved. And what the hell? How did I not notice that before?
So, trust me, the revelations these characters have about themselves are definitely worth it! It was exactly the character aspect that moved me the most and made me give the book the rating I think it deserves. Yay!