Review: A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir

A Torch Against The Night (An Ember In The Ashes #2)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Pages: 452
Format: Paperback/Own

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.

Review: I loved this book just as much as I loved the first! I thoroughly loved that we got even more twists and turns thrown at us in this book. I also loved that things really didn't go as I expected them. It was incredibly nice to read a book where the next events aren't predictable. I also have to admit, while I didn't like it at first, I did come to enjoy Helene's POV. It was still very important that we have someones view from inside the Empire or we'd miss a whole lot of important events going down that are still key to the story.

I have to say, despite that fact that I wasn't super keen on Helene during the first half of the book, she grew on me in the second half. She was so dead set on following Marcus's orders during the first half of the book because she thought that was the only way to do her duty and also protect everyone else. She learned in the second half that there was much bigger things at stake and she needed to let go of that thought. She ended up ignoring the fact she knew where and how to get to Elias and even actually helped Laia instead of killing her, all because she realized the empire being at stake was more important than killing those two people. I also liked seeing Helene's growth. Not only did she grow to see the bigger picture and decide which was more important, but she also grew in the sense of her intelligence. She seems to act like she had no idea where Elias could be or where he was headed. But suddenly we she got clues she started to figure out exactly where he was going. Eventually she started catching on quicker and quicker. She seemed to get smarter in regards to Elias the more she chased him. However her smarts in regards to the Emperor and the Commandant, not so much. You seriously don't just walk in and spout everything you know about their plans. You don't let them on to the fact you know. She definitely has more to learn in terms of discretion. And I really genuinely feel bad about what happens to her at the end of the book because of her indiscretion.

Laia and Elias! Definitely some solid growth with these guys. Laia. She really ends up dealing with so much. She's carrying the guilt and pain of certain peoples deaths throughout the book, but eventually she uses their memories and sacrifices as her reason to push forward and save her brother, especially since his knowledge could help everyone fight against the empire. I also felt really bad for her though when it came to who tricked her and just how much. That was just cruel and heartbreaking to see. She also learned more about a special power she holds. Elias. He really stepped up. He decided to go on ahead of Laia and the people they end up travelling with to try and break Darin out. He knows something will happen to him before he'd get there with the group of people and decided its better to try and get there faster. I think it took a lot of courage to do it. First of all, he's definitely grown attached to Laia. So leaving her was a little difficult. But to take her mission upon himself, and also have to face death while doing it. He showed so much growth. I was proud of this guy. I'm definitely interested in seeing where his story is going to go in Reaper with what he does at the end.

The damn Commandant is even more power hungry than I thought. We think she only wanted to influence who became emperor so she could have someone she could puppet. Oy. Nope. Instead she influenced who became emperor so she could have someone who she found weaker. She has a bigger, darker, deeper plan in motion that sets the entire empire in jeopardy. And somehow, she's influenced a fair amount of higher ranking people to side with her. And on top of that, she's allied herself with the Nightbringer. And he seems to have his own agenda related to Laia and her amulet and the girl in charge of the waiting place. So I'm really interested in seeing how these two separate agenda's are gonna merge.

I again was a huge fan of the maps. It really helped to get more of a visual on where certain places were and their distance and relation to other places. It really made the book that much better! I also loved that this was another quick was engrossing read like the first book! I am so excited for what A Reaper At The Gates holds for us if it follows along in Ember and Torch's footsteps!

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