A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)
By: Sabaa Tahir
My Rating 4/5 Stars
Genre: High fantasy, YA, adventure
Synopsis: 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.
The first section of this review will be spoiler free.
I love this series so much and originally it was supposed to be a stand alone, but now there are going to be three (maybe even more)! The world building is just incredible and the whole writing style really draws me in. In the first book I found Laia a bit annoying, even if she was pretty badass. In the second book she really branched out and her character felt deeper than just the abandoned girl searching for her family. I think one of the real stars of the book was Helene, as she not only has the hardest time of all the other characters, but she handles it with class and strength, and becomes a very sympathetic, well rounded character.
Elias was also developed further, and (not revealing anything) he goes through some very weird situations in this book that I had to read twice to understand. Basically, all the characters underwent the transformation one would expect from a sequel novel, deepening their personalities and challenging their stereotypical or stock roles. The plot itself was well developed, complex and twisted enough that it held some surprises for me. If you liked the first book you will like this one as well, and if you haven’t read the first book I highly recommend you do.
I really don’t want to spoil too much of this book. I always feel very conflicted about this section because I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone, even if you are a person who loves spoilers. I will say the fact that Keenan was actually the Nightbringer the whole time, and that he and Laia slept together was so creepy. I always shipped Elias and Laia so I was happy that they somewhat ended up together, though I am still really sad for Helene, and I hope things get better for her in the next book (though honestly it’s not looking good). I don’t know how things are going to go now that Laia’s brother is finally free and probably very traumatized. Will he be a good person? a spy? a completely broken soul? we will just have to wait to find out.
Have you read this series, what are your thoughts?