Title: A Torch Against the Night
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Release Date: August 30th, 2016
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.
Summary from Goodreads.com
My Review: I was really looking forward to this book after reading its predecessor, An Ember in the Ashes, and getting back to this brutal yet beautiful world. We pick up right where we left Elias and Laia and hit the ground running from there. So much so that I actually had to go back and re-read the first book in a couple of places just to refresh my memory because I could not recall all of the details I needed to be full ingrained into this world again.
Elias, despite all his faults, is my favorite character in this series. Blackcliff tried to beat the good out of him, but he strives so hard to atone for his past sins and I love that about him. He is still struggling in this book with his issues and that does lead him to some choices that might not have been the best, but they made sense for his character. Laia on the other hand, drove me a little crazy in this book. I know she is still finding her way, but I thought by the end of Ember in the Ashes she had transformed into a stronger person. She lost some of that in A Torch against the Night, which led her to make some decisions that I wanted to throttle her for making. I did not think they made sense for her mindset to be the way it was in some places, and I am hoping that whenever the next book does come out, she comes back to the girl we saw at the end of Ember in the Ashes.
The book was very well written though and the pace was pretty good for 90% of the book. I did feel like it could have been 50 pages shorter and that would have moved the plot along a little better, but that could be me just nitpicking. The world Tahir has created is absolutely amazing. The characters, places and action just leap off the page and when I am reading it, I am completely immersed in it and soak up all of the incredible details that are woven throughout.
While the world is amazing, it is also heartbreakingly brutal and I really, really want the Commandant to die (I know that might be spoilery but there are going to be four books, you know she is not going to get what is coming to her in book two). Seriously, I am not sure if I have seen many villains as truly evil as she is and she continues to surprise me with more ways of tormenting the people around her. I was literally in tears at two points of the book and she was at the root of both of those incidents. I don’t normally cry in books, I get sad sure, but tears are not a normal occurrence for me which just shows how powerful a connection Tahir has created for me and these characters.
I know there are supposed to be four books (as of now), but at this point, I feel like Tahir could wrap it up in just three, so I will be interested to see how she continues on in this world from here. That being said, I will still read these books no matter how many come out because they are just great books. They are not light reading, they will grab hold of you, make you pay attention to every word and suck you in so you forget the world around you, which to me that is the mark of a good book. I cannot wait for the next book, whenever it is being released so I can get back to this world and see how the plot continues to unfold.