A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember In The Ashes #2)
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Summary: 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.
My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: Tahir delivers a sequel with Laia and Elias on the run from the Empire, stakes are heightened, and danger is at every turn!
“You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.”
A Torch Against The Night picks up right where Ember left off with Laia and Elias running for their lives.
Torch definitely has a different tone/feel than Ember but overall delivers an incredible story with expansion on the politics, magic and world of the Empire.
With the Commandant on their tails and managing to stay one step ahead, Laia and Elias are now traitors to the Empire, but nothing will stop them from helping Darin to escape Kauf Prison.
Similar to Ember, we are again in the minds of Laia and Elias. However, with Helene remaining in the Empire, she provides a 3rd POV that expands on the intricacy of the politics and hierarchy that weaves throughout.
Laia and Elias escape the city of Serra through underground catacombs with soldiers and the Commandant close by.
Early on, the Commandant finds her way to Elias. After a quick but intense battle, Elias emerges victorious with minor cuts and manages to escape his mother. However, he begins to question why he was able to escape so easily.
After suffering from episodes of seizures and blackouts Laia comes to understand why. The Commandant has poisoned him!
Trying to find an antidote at a local market in a nearby town does slow them down. However due to these seizures Elias finds himself drifting in and out of consciousness and drifting to a mysterious forest called the Waiting Place where the Soul Catcher tells him more about the fate he destined to with the limited time he may have left!
However things really pick up when Keenan and other familiar faces from Ember catch up with Laia and Elias on their journey to Kauf.
As for Helene, when her arc is introduced she is being brutally interrogated and must give up the info she can about Elias’s whereabouts. She doesn’t break so easily, but it backfires when she gets tasked with becoming Blood Shrike and hunting down Elias.
However, not everyone can be trusted! As Helene tracks him down, the Commandant we come to learn has a hidden agenda of her own and she won’t let anyone or anything get in her way.
Helene knows the risks involved if she doesn’t complete her task. Deep within her heart she cannot let Elias go. And she doesn’t plan to!
Darin’s life hangs in the balance with each and every obstacle Laia and Elias encounter.
With hints of magic in book 1, I knew it would play a bigger role in Torch and it was miraculously done!
The magic feels like much more of an integral part of this world and is explained in such a unique way that I cannot wait to see how it expanded on in future books!
Helene’s POV gives the reader additional world building/back story and the politics/hierarchy that governs the secrets and darkness that cloud the Empire.
Tahir expands the world beyond Blackcliff Academy with a number of settings explored throughout the novel:
-A forest known as the Waiting Place where souls have not yet passed on
With the 1st person POV I was immediately transported back into the brutal world of the Empire + could really picture each and every setting!
Character development is truly the backbone of this novel and it is masterfully done!
My favorite characters by far were Elias and Helene.
Battling the darkness within himself, Elias wants to show he can do good regardless of all the pain he’s caused. His capture/interrogation at Kauf further shows the light that shines within him to set things right.
Helene is stuck. She wants to abide by the Empire’s rules, but being his childhood friend she still loves Elias and doesn’t want to see him get hurt.
The glimpse of the Empire from Ember is seen in more depth in Torch from politics to the magic system, world-building and the secrets that lay hidden deep within.
No surprise that Tahir’s sequel went above and beyond my expectations! Can’t wait to see what Book 3 has in store!
+ I also have A Torch Against The Night Playlist coming on Monday! (9/5)
Can’t wait to share it!!