A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir

September 27, 2016
A Torch Against the Night, Sabaa Tahir, Book Review, InToriLexPublished By: Razorbill on August 30, 2016
Format Read: Hardback Edition (452 pages)
Genre: Young Adult/ Fantasy/ Romance
Series: Book Two of An Ember in the Ashes Series
Source: Purchased
A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)
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.


I took a while to write this, because I have many mixed emotions about this book. I tampered down my expectations before reading, once I found out the first book was intended as a stand alone. The intrigue, villain and twisting plot line that I loved in An Ember in the Ashes was watered down here. Laia and Elias are on the run for most of the book, they learn more about their abilities and we learn more about Elias's past. The first third of this book reads like filler but did do a good job of reminding the reader of events from book two. Helene is forced to go after Elias while she struggles to do what's right for the Empire. Her tragedy seems like its too much to bear at times, while the all knowing Augur's are little help. 
"You are a torch against the night --if you dare to let yourself burn."
There is a brutal portrayal of genocide being carried out against the Scholars with no mercy, throughout the book. Under the leadership of  Marcus and the Commandment, the empire is imploding because of everyone's lust for power. The violence and gore described was unflinching but realistic, and highlighted Laia and Elias's desperation. the supernatural elements described in this book were confusing to keep track of because they still remain shrouded in mystery. I thought we would learn more about how magic, and jinn's work in this world, but I still have a lot of questions. I was engaged and invested in these characters lives, but felt that the way the plot progressed was not well thought out. Twists at times seemed like a cheap trick instead of a surprising turn of events.
"What point is there in being human if you don't let yourself feel anything?"
I enjoyed the progression of the story, but too little happens and the things I liked most about this world were never explained. The romance at times was a bit cheesy, but believable because the characters were all half starved and exhausted. If you loved the first book, you should continue on with the series. I will continue the series despite not loving everything about this book. The ending left so much more to be explored in book three, and I look forward to what's ahead for Laia and Elias.

Reviews in Series
An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)


Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

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