I did not finish this book, made it to page 300/425. Usually when I DNF, I don’t write a review but just add it to my DNF list, however I made it through enough of this one, that I feel it is appropriate to comment.
This was a big disappointment for me because of how much I loved the first one, Ember in the Ashes. I just didn’t enjoy the plot or story of this sequel. There was too much ruthless killings. The progression of obtaining their goals was too slow. There wasn’t enough romance or spark between the characters or love triangle since it wasn’t moving forward. I feel as if the first had lots of potential in the series but I just didn’t like the path the author chose for the rest of the story. I read the blurbs of the next two, (which contained some spoilers), and am satisfied with my choice to not complete this series. I highly recommend this to readers who enjoy the war, battle, murder, & killing. I bet the last 120ish pages would’ve made the rough part worth it, but I no longer force myself to read when I’ve stopped enjoying it
Title- A Torch Against the Night
Author- Sabaa Tahir
Series- Sequel in An Ember in the Ashes
Rating– DNF- 1/5 stars
Genre- YA fantasy
POV- three alternating POV. Helene is thrown in the mix now. First person, present tense
Trope- war, battle, love triangle
Steam level- 0/5 spice
Cover– there are two covers, and neither are my favorite
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.
Character Development- meh…
Best part- Elias and Laia and Keenan moments
What I would most change- many events seemed to happen without progressing the novel forward and didn’t seem relevant to what I cared about
Setting- great descriptions
Prose- above average
Character goals/motivations- (some spoilers)- Laia was set on one thing and one thing only. Elias’s motivation didn’t seem believable since he doesn’t know or care about Darin, yet let ____ happen to his foster family…. I don’t believe it. Helene’s motivation was to serve the emporer, but I didn’t believe it because her heart was elsewhere so I didn’t buy her as a character. She let Elias run free when she could’ve captured him, then a chapter later was like “I’m gonna kill him.” … um, no you’re not ma’am. It was frustrating and tiring.
Vivid sensory descriptions- yes, especially in the sand storm. I wish I knew more about what the fantastical creatures looked like. They felt abstract in nature.
Diversity- We’ve got a red head and someone with golden skin. We’ve got slaves and Martials and Masks. I’m unsure of their ethnicities or if it matters. I don’t recall LGBTQ characters.
Ethics/morals- too much unneeded killing. I get that the author was trying to show how terrible the antagonist is, but I was just sick of it.
Conflict/tension/obstacles- lots, yes. I don’t like when Elias split from Laia though. It would’ve been better to spend time together.
First chapter- I really like that this sequel started minutes after the first novel ended. But I don’t like that they have backtracked with their character development. I was hoping they’d grow and learn about themselves and then the sequel would be a new/alternate character flaw to overcome. Now we’re just reliving their same issue/inner struggle as before
Ending- I didn’t finish. You’ll probably love the ending though, because I’m weird and DNF 40% of the books I start.
Thoughts while reading-
Page 30- Dude! I totally called this. I knew Helene would have a POV in this novel. Hopefully the author sticks with just 3 though.
Page 58- well how the skies is he gonna fix that problem? Everything is already doomed.
Page 66- Helene’s chapters are a little slower so far. And I expected the command the emperor gave her.
Page 90- so I’m a little tired as if everything is going wrong too soon and I can’t last 400 pages of hopelessness. I need some hope.
Page 103- yay! Cook is back! Maybe she is someone more important. Wink wink.
Page 112- rounding the whole gang together on this long journey!
Page 120- I don’t like the “2 weeks earlier”
I don’t care about Darin. So when their reason to keep going is because of him, that motivation isn’t strong enough for me.
Page 190- I’m invested but feel bored
Page 213- I’m not hugely interested in this going to a war book. The unnecessary slaughtering and violence doesn’t entertain me as a reader or feel like it gives purpose to the theme/message. I’m hoping the rest will be more of the journey or Elias & Laia and the romance and overcoming his dilemma and not Helene’s perspective.
Plot/blurb of the third in series, “Reaper at the Gate.” May contain spoilers.
Beyond the Martial Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.
Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister’s life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. But she knows that danger lurks on all sides: Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor’s volatility to grow her own power–regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path.
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 in the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help 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 demands his complete surrender–even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.
Plot/blurb of the fourth in the series, “A Sky Beyond the Storm.” May contain spoilers.
Picking up just a few months after A Reaper at the Gates left off…
The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.
By his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.
Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory—or to an unimaginable doom.
And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life—and love—he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save—or destroy—all that he knows.