Series: An Ember in the Ashes #2
Published by Razorbill on August 30th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
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.
“It takes only a split second for life to go horribly wrong. To fix the mess, I need a thousand things to go right. The distance from one bit of luck to the next feels as great as the distance across oceans. But, I decide in this moment, I will bridge that distance, again and again, until I win. I will not fail.”
A Torch Against the Night picks up immediately after An Ember in the Ashes. Elias and Laia are running from the Martials following Elias’ escape. Laia is still determined to break into Kauf prison to rescue her brother Darin, but first the two must make it out of Serra alive. However, it’s not easy. Elias’ mother is determined to carry out her secret agenda, even if it means killing her own son to do it. To make matter’s worse, Elias’ best friend Helene is ordered by the new Emperor Marcus to hunt Elias down and kill him.
I loved that this novel picks up on the heels of the first novel, as I had read that earlier in the year. By beginning immediately following those events, I found it easier to get back into this world. Sabah Tahir writes a brilliant novel about a corrupt Empire, and how it chokes its people by an overbearing use of power. Elias and Laia’s relationship continues to develop naturally, and I found their reactions to the various situations they found themselves in to be very realistic. What wasn’t the best part for me was the continuation of the love triangle from the first book. It seemed to be resolved, and then dredged back up for added, unnecessary drama. Plus I really, really hate Keenan!
Aside from the development of the love triangle, I loved getting the chance to see the other lands that make up this world, and how differently the people live in it. Kauf prison was a horror, and really seemed like an impossible task. I was happy when Tahir didn’t speed through this section of the story, and loved the added tension of whether or not Elias and Laia would be successful in their task. As for the villains? They were as horrible as ever, but in a good way.
“But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.”
Kris and Marcus are both formidable opponents, and I enjoyed reading how Helene would battle wits with them. Helene was such a smart, strong character in the first novel, and it was great reading all of her scenes. In fact, she became one of my favorite characters. I can’t wait to see how she develops as the Torch Against the Night. Will she be in opposition to Laia’s Ember in the Ashes, or will she be the one to highlight Laia’s power? All I know is the third novel can’t come out soon enough for me!