Author: Sabaa Tahir
Published: Published February 9th 2016 by Razorbill (first published April 28th 2015)
Number of pages: Paperback, 446 pages
My rating: (4.8 stars)
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.
A torch against the night is the gripping sequel to an ember in the ashes. The novel although not as action packed as the first definitely packs a punch and hooks you in a more quiet way.
As with the first book the narration is alternated between very strong characters and as with the first book the narration was really a huge part. The characters were so well handled and were individual people and individually great. The narration was exceptional in that the voices were individual too.
We have Laia who’s character development amazes me. She is now this strong person who is easy to underestimate but more than once prevails. Following her was a pleasure. We really grow to love and even understand Laia.
We then have Helene Aquila who I really liked from the first book and this second book I loved. Helene is really strong -as with very female in this book really which I love- and she has been through so much. She is a unique figure and a strong female role model. She is loyal and smart and although those two characteristics makes her cruel at times she is still lovable.
Also narrating is Elias who continues to amaze me. Again the character development is astonishing and I come to learn about Elias and why he is the way he is. Elias is a mask but he is fighting for his freedom and that is why he is so loved.
Which is why it’s no surprise Elias is part of that love square. I really wanted more from the relationships. Everyone’s feelings were clear but we never really moved forward. It’s great the romance didn’t overshadow the book or take over. As I said the character development was great so it really shaped the relationships but the pace of the romance was slow. The romance was made very real to me and seemed real to the characters. It was very serious and I could understand the attraction. They were all really mature about it. They weren’t kids and they considered everything and showed great maturity.
The great thing about being back in this world is we get to learn more. There were a lot of interesting aspects in the book and I was looking forward to understanding them. We got to move outside the walls of blackliff (the academy for masks) and really see the world and the problems. Also because of the different narrations we see a lot of the world and in different point of views.
The plot really flowed and the book starts off where we left of and it’s really easy to get into. Although it isn’t as action packed at the start by the end there is a lot. There are so many plot twists, some I saw coming some I didn’t either way they were really well executed. The book never stopped moving forward.
The plot of this book is dragged on from the first book with Laia still basing her every move on saving her brother Darin. The plot and mission we learn is way bigger than them. Every where scholars talk about the scholar who talks about the secret of serric steel. With the help of some new characters, some old.
Meanwhile Helene is on a mission to capture the most wanted fugitive or as we know him Elias. There are also a lot of sub plots and sub sub plots. The situations the characters are put in are really interesting and it’s great to watch what they do. They really go through a lot of life changing moments. The series have a great potential with so many aspects to still explore. As with when I read the first book there are so many things I still want to know more about.
As usual Tahir never shies away from anything. From brutal scenes to emotional scenes she tackles them all in such a way that makes us feel such strong emotions. The book is heavy and thick with emotion but instead of making readers shy away it makes us want more. The writing I think is even better. Tahir writes in a way that hooks and captivates and honestly all the praise to her for creating such beautiful world.
These book series have been an amazing and unique addition to my shelves and I honestly can’t wait to be back in the world already.