“A Torch Against the Night”
An Ember in the Ashes #2
by Sabaa Tahir
Nikki’s Rating: 8 out of 10
Summary: Racing to the Empire’s most secure prison, in an attempt to rescue Laia’s brother, Laia and Elias are being hunted. Targeted by the deranged Emperor Marcus, the vicious Commandant and sadistic Warden of Kauf who all want them dead. Worst of all, Elias former best friend and the person who knows him best, Helene, the Blood Shrike, is commanded to execute them or have her family slaughtered. As Elias and Laia try to outwit their pursuers, they end up tangled in ancient myths and mysteries that are better off left unknown.
8 Terrific Things about Sabaa Tahir’s “A Torch Against the Night”
(May Contain Spoilers)
1. The Characters
The Ember in the Ashes series has some of the most compelling characters. Tahir does an amazing job of creating characters with complexity and depth; all the characters have elements of goodness and parts of darkness and each of them makes mistakes from time to time. They are all very relatable. Some notable favorites, in no particular order, are Elias, Laia, Izzi, Helene, and Harper.
2. The Villian(s)
While many stories have one big “bad” villain that the protagonist(s) are trying to defeat, “A Torch Against the Night” has a few and they are not necessarily working together which adds more difficulties for all the protagonists. These villains include the Commandant, an utter bitch determined to kill her own son, Elias, the Warden of Kauf who is sadistic and unfortunately well trained in torturing his prisoners, Emperor Marcus who is both bloodthirsty and power-hungry, a dangerous combination, and then there is the Nightbringer.
3. The Myths
I love that Sabaa Tahir pulled from the mythology of her heritage and uses the Jinn in her lore. Other fey creatures introduced thus far are efrits, ghouls and wraiths. I’m interested in seeing more of these fey and learning more about them.
The Ember in the Ashes series is full of tragedy, the backstories of all the characters include heartbreak. And then we continue witnessing them being broken down by obstacles and tragedy. However, Tahir does an amazing job of showing that there is still beauty and love to be found in loss and calamity. Broken, to be remade.
5. Writing Style
Sabaa Tahir is a fantastic writer. As noted earlier, she does well with character development and world building but also with story pacing and creating a complex plot with many unexpected twists and turns.
As always, I’m a sucker for romance and love. I appreciate that Tahir had Leia have feelings for both Keenan and Elias, it is so human to have an attraction to more than one person at a time. But I also want to scream and shake Tahir because Elias and Leia are not really “together” and may never be able to be.
7. The Nightbringer
Keenan… the Nightbringer??? Did not see this one coming at all!!! Well played Tahir.
8. A Reaper at the Gates
Thankfully Sabaa Tahir has mercy on us all and continues her wonderful An Ember in the Ashes series in “A Reaper at the Gates”.