A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT
Written by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Razorbill, August 30 2016
My star rating: 5 stars
Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire. Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom. But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike. Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both. (Goodreads)
This is the sequel to book one in The Ember in the Ashes series so if you haven’t read the first book yet, this could contain some spoilers! (For my full review of The Ember in the Ashes please click HERE) I liked the first book quite a lot, but this one made me fall head over heels in love with the series!! From the very first chapter this book took off at a crazy fast pace and didn’t stop until the end. Everything that I was hoping for was in this book and so much more!!
First off, not only did we have the perspective of Laia and Elias, but we also got the point of view of Helene! She was such an interesting character in the first book and I knew that she had much more to offer. But because we didn’t get her perspective she was kind of a one dimensional character in book 1. We got the idea that she was fighting with her own thoughts and beliefs during the trials, but we never got the full effect – only what she said and when her facial features betrayed her. In the end of book one she was named Blood Shrike to the new Emperor and knew that she would have to face some difficult decisions. She had been told by Cain that she was destined for something but the ultimate choice was left up to her. Her own choices would then determine the direction things would go in. She had begun to question her loyalties and struggled with her choices – family, Empire, friendship and more.
Laia’s character was really fantastic. She isn’t the typical heroine – abnormally strong girl that’s kicking ass and taking names. She’s scared, flawed, makes mistakes and is driven by love. She doesn’t always make the right choices but she never stops trying.
Elias was a change in this one. His character was a little slow at times but it wasn’t a bad thing. In the first book he was so strong and determined. This one his softer side came out a bit as he finally decided what he was fighting for. I wish I could say a little more but I don’t want to spoil anything that happens to his character.
In An Ember in the Ashes we were introduced to a cast of different magical creatures – Jinn, wraiths, and more. All these creatures were introduced but not fully explained. We knew that they played a part but we did’t know what or why. Some are still a bit of a mystery but so many of my questions were answered. I love how Sabaa Tahir weaved magical beings and folklore throughout the story, not to mention some tribal influences!
Also, what made this book fantastic was the strength and role politics played. In the first there was only undertones of politics. You knew that there was a hidden back story but you had to wait for it all to be revealed. Each side feels like they have the upper hand in each situation only to realize they had no clue. The politics of the Empire, commandant, scholars, tribe, and so much more was explored further and I was caught off guard by a few aspects. I’m not sure what to expect in book three but I’m hoping the politics are just as strong and intriguing.
This book showed that even the strongest of characters have weaknesses, the bravest have fears, and the most determined are vulnerable. I absolutely love the direction that this sequel went in and can’t wait to continue with this series! I had been hearing so many great things about these books and I’m so glad that I finally got around to them!
Have you read this series? Did you find the sequel was as strong as the first?
Until next time, happy reading!