A Torch Against The Night (An Ember In The Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Those of you who follow my reviews closely will know that I fell in love with Sabaa Tahir's wonderful An Ember In The Ashes just a few short weeks ago. I hadn't expected to love it as much as I did and it just so happened that my wonderful library had both books available and both were sitting on my TBR pile at home so it made sense to delve straight back into the series and read A Torch Against The Night just a few weeks after I finished the first in the series. This meant I'll be ready to dive straight into the next book in the series, A Reaper At The Gates, when it is released in a few weeks time. (I cannot tell you how much the anticipation for that is killing me right now!)
A Torch Against the Night is a direct continuation of Elias and Laia's story from An Ember In The Ashes, picking up just moments after the ending of the first books narrative and keeping the action and intensity levels high from the very first lines of Chapter 1. Our duo is trying to escape Briarcliff, the training school for soldiers of the Empire, so they can get to Laia's brother who is being held in Kauf prison. They have made a promise to each other to get there and escape the tyranny of the world in which they live and to try and make a difference to the future they foresee.
Told in alternating chapters again we have narrative from both Elias and Laia's perspectives as we had in An Ember In The Ashes so that feels really familiar and is sure to please fans of the series. What we have added into the mix here is the point of view from Helene, Elias's best friend and now Blood Shrike of the Empire who is charged with hunting down Elias and Laia and bringing them back to the Empire for execution. This makes a really interesting addition as she was such a strong character in the first book and now she is facing a real dilemma as she has to fulfill her role as the Emperors head killing soldier and assassin but the person she is being asked to hunt is someone she cares for deeply and whose motives she is beginning to understand. Her chapters are perhaps the highlight of this book.
In Elias and Laia's chapters we are following their journey to Kauf, the adversities they are facing along the way, the people who are helping them and the growing relationship they have together. In Helen's we get the broader perspective, she is giving us the backstory about what's happening in the Empire, the shifting political world and the regime of the new Emperor Marcus whose unhinged personality means she walks a knifes edge which very quickly begins to threaten her own family and drives her to do things she never thought she would have to. Whilst there is lots going on for Elias and Laia it's with Helene that I felt the most character development. We see her beginning to question her blind loyalty to the Empire, watch her begin to understand the choices Elias has made and yet still not be able to break free of the regime which has her doing it's bidding. Her chapters are a joy.
The ending of this book was a really interesting one because it's left us in a situation I was not anticipating where we are not quite sure how things are going to play out in A Reaper At The Gates. We have all the players now on the stage (or page) and lots of storylines to play out. I am excited to see what's in store for Helene as we move forward and how Laia and Elias are now going to be able to try and stop the political dictatorship that threatens their world.
Cannot wait to read book 3 in a few weeks time, I have a feeling it's going to be a wild ride.