A REAPER AT THE GATES (An Ember in the Ashes #3)
Written by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Razorbill, June 12, 2018
My Star rating: 3 stars
Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.
The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.
Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.
And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity. Find it on Goodreads
I had such HIGH HOPES for this book! The first two books in this series were outstanding! I went into this series with low expectations and I was blown away! Her writing, her world building, her character relationships – swoon! But this one really fell short for me. I won’t talk too long about this one as it’s the 3rd book in a series.
Let me start with the positives – her writing is still fantastic! Descriptive and creative without being overwhelming. And this book, more so than the others, was a bit more of a challenge. The characters were all in different places and there were some serious action scenes! The action scenes were done really well too! I typically skim through action scenes as the details can sometimes be confusing, but in this case, it was riveting!
Even though her writing was still amazing, I still couldn’t connect with this book like I did the first two. I spent 80% of this book feeling so disconnected and not being able to figure out why. It was a little disorienting! I was reading it, understanding it, but my heart wasn’t in it. And not being able to figure out the disconnect was driving me insane! It wasn’t until I got to the last hundred pages or so that it hit me – I was missing the connections and relationships between the characters!
The way the plot is laid out is totally different from the first two books. In this one the characters are all separated and on their own missions. It was great for the plot – but it was missing an essential balance. There is so much fighting and struggle. People like the Commandant and the Emperor are so evil. And people like Elias, Laia, and Helene are struggling and needing to bring a better life for their people. But it was the balance between good and evil, hope and despair, that made the first two books what they were.
Also, Sabaa Tahir has a way of sucking you into relationships. They’re so real and packed full of passion and emotion. You get drawn into them without realizing it’s happening. And this didn’t really come into play until the last 100 pages of the book. The characters connections and the strings that attach them were missing and that’s why my heart wasn’t in this one.
I will say though, that the way this ended seemed to set up book 4 for things to finally come together. As much as I didn’t really enjoy this one, I’m confident that she will tie it all together in the next one!
Until next time, happy reading!