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.”
A Torch Against the Night is a sequel to An Ember in the Ashes. There will inevitability be spoilers for Ember so do not read this if you don’t want the first book spoiled for you! If you want to see my review on the first book, you can find it here.
I normally don’t use gifs in my reviews, but I have no other way of describing my reaction to this book. After finishing it I definitely felt like this:
But also like this:
And this is how I felt after I found out the next book wouldn’t be released until 2018:
Wow, I loved this book! When I first started reading, I was enjoying the story. I really liked Ember in the Ashes so of course I was looking forward to the sequel. And for the first 70%, it was good but it didn’t blow me away. I already had it in my head that I was going to rate it 4 stars, just like the first book. The plot seemed to be what I expected- Laia and Elias escape Blackcliff, Laia and Elias head to Kauf to break out Laia’s brother Darin, Helene deals with her new status as Blood Shrike and struggles with her loyalty to the empire and her love for Elias, and the Commandant is as evil as ever. However as I read further into the story, it really started to pick up and the last 30% blew me away. There were multiple plot twists that I could have never predicted and Tahir took her character development to a new level. This book is brutal, heart wrenching, devastating and absolutely perfect. This book will rip your heart out and leave you wanting more.
The story is told again through alternating points of view. We have chapters from Laia and Elias, as well as Helene in this book. Helene’s point of view was a welcome and necessary addition to the book. As these three were often in different locations, it was helpful to get the bigger picture. In terms of the characters, well the characters were wonderful. If you didn’t already love Elias Veturius you absolutely will now. Elias is just so good despite his upbringing. His violent past haunts him, yet he must rely on his abilities as a Mask to survive.
Helene Aquilla shines in this novel. Sabaa Tahir, what a beautifully complex, broken and terrifying character you have created. She is constantly struggling with her loyalty to the Empire and her love for Elias and her family. She wants to do the right thing, but she isn’t sure what the right decision is. As Blood Shrike, she must hunt down and kill Elias. The idea repulses her, but is one life worth the entire fate of the Empire? I loved reading Helene’s story. Its not always a happy one- she goes through considerable heartbreak and grief and the future looks bleak. Helene is quickly becoming one of my favorite book characters. The title also seems to be a tribute to Helene:
” ‘But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night- if you dare to let yourself burn ‘”
Helene’s story also introduces us to a new character, Avitas Harper. Oh, I really hope we get to see more of Avitas Harper. I have a feeling he has a lot more depth to him than we saw in this book and I am excited to see his character explored in the next book.
I adored Laia throughout the story and I was surprised to see so much hate for Laia in other reviews. Sure, she sometimes makes the wrong decision, but Laia’s singular goal continues to be to get Darin out of prison. Laia’s unwavering loyalty and determination was the reason I loved her so much in the first place. Laia is still the same fierce, no-nonsense girl we met in Ember in the Ashes so I was confused when I read other reviews saying she was weaker and didn’t take charge. There was also a development about Laia’s character that will be very interesting to explore in the next book. I also wanted to say that I still ship Laia and Elias so much. While the book isn’t necessarily romance-centered, it has its moments and those moments are adorable.
This book was better than the first. Tahir never shies away from exploring raw human emotions and bloody, brutal scenes. I remember at one point I thought, “She’s not going to go through with this is she?” …and yes, she did. This book is amazing and I cannot praise it highly enough. There are still so many aspects of the book I want to discuss so I think I will have another spoiler discussion post soon, so keep your eye out for that. I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I did!
*All images are taken from google and I do not claim ownership over any of them. If you would like an image removed from my post, please let me know*