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.
When the fear takes over, use the only thing more powerful, more indestructible, to fight it: your spirit. Your heart.
Pop used to say that standing by someone during their darkest times creates a bond. A sense of obligation that is less a weight and more a gift.
Let’s get the Trigger Warnings and Content Warnings out of the way first so I can really dig into this review…
- Child Abuse/Torture and Murder
The characters were very well-developed. I cared what happen to all of them, even if that meant wishing some of them met a gruesome end. And I did wish that for several of them. Sabaa Tahir seems to have no aversion to killing characters off to serve the story so I figure that hope is not overly misplaced.
The world is expanded upon what was already there from An Ember In The Ashes. We’re even given a few new locations, each built up to immersive reality through lush descriptions that leave no room for wanting. I could easily say that I can imagine myself in each of the places the characters’ journeys bring them to, even the magical ones.
The story flows relatively well, especially considering the multiple plot twists thrown in. As I said before, Sabaa Tahir seems to have zero qualms about killing off crowd favorites and, in fact, she does so with a brutality and fierceness comparative to George R. R. Martin. I did have a bit of trouble with this at times and found myself putting the book down for a few hours to work past it or skipping over sections all together.
There were quite a few things that truly bothered me while reading this book, but none more than when the Genocide spread to the brutal torture and murder of children. It also still bothers me that Laia was a slave and Elias was her master’s son and they somehow acknowledge a romantic attraction. I don’t know that I’ll be able to work myself past that, but I suppose we’ll see when Ember 3 is released.
Sabaa Tahir is truly a talented writer, but I’m not sure how I feel about this series yet. I can say with no doubt in my mind that A Torch Against The Night is better than An Ember In The Ashes. So, for now, I await Ember 3 with cautious optimism and conspiracy theories.
Overall, I rate An Ember In The Ashes 3 out of 5 bookworms.
Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of A Torch Against The Night and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:
- Amazon US
- Amazon UK
- Books-A-Million (US)
- Barnes and Noble (US)
- Waterstones (UK)
- Book Depository
- your local bookstore or local library
For more information about Sabaa Tahir and her work, visit her website.