A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir
An Ember In The Ashes #2
Published by Razorbill on August 30, 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.
This is one of the books where I was in an emotional turmoil after I had finished it.
I wasn´t sure about the rating, I wasn´t sure about what to think of all that had happened in it and I was for sure looking for a sense in all that I had just read.
Laia and Elias are running for their lives. The Martial soldiers want to kill them because the new Emperor Marcus can´t stand that Elias didn´t choose him but instead freedom. But having power, using power and being really powerful are different things. And the Commandant, Elias own mother, can´t let the son, she never loved nor wanted, just let go. She wants him to suffer, to die a certain death and shows no mercy in fighting him. With the help of others, the sacrifice of many innocent and two clever women Laia and Elias can do the unthinkable and stand against the Empire.
The story is actually very easy. A girl wants to free her imprisoned brother and does everything to achieve that. Even if that means that she has to bond with the enemy. But the thing about Sabaa Tahir is, she doesn´t do things the easy way.
Her style is very pictorial, she writes opulent and not everything that is happening makes sense at first sight. And the fact, that she obviously has a favor for the Roman Empire and how some of its more or less famous Emperors loved to kill just for the thrill of it, is maybe not for everyone.
Sabaa Tahir goes very much into details; you need to read carefully to get all the gist’s that are spoken in the dialogues because if you miss something, you get confused why this or that is now happening. And then there are all those twists and turns. Those unexpected things that give this story something you need to figure out yourself.
Never let your enemy or the ones who surround you see your weakness if there is any. Never give them the chance to think you can´t do what you are supposed to do and most of all, never underestimate the cruelty and bloodthirstiness of your new Emperor.
Helene has to learn that the very brutal and most destroying way. She is the one, who is called A Torch Against The Night and she is the one, who probably does something that gives Elias and Laia the chance to fight their own fight and follow their own plans. She is a woman I had sometimes my difficulties with. And to be honest, sometimes I wasn´t sure if I like her at all.
Elias has changed. He no longer can be a Mask, though he still thinks and can act as one. But for him, the time where he only does what his Commandant and Emperor want him to do, to kill people, isn´t his thing anymore. He wants to be free, there has to be something else, another way of life that he feels is what he really wants. And with Laia he is sure, he will find it, though it means that he has to do everything a bit slower.
It took me much longer to read this book than I thought it would. But I just couldn´t just read it and then go to the next book. In between, I had to stop, to let that, what I had just read sink in otherwise I would have been completely overwhelmed by it. I loved reading it, yes, but I wasn´t as thrilled as I thought I would be. Despite that, it is a book I highly recommend.
Sabaa Tahir grew up in California´s Mojave Desert at her family´s eighteen-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 San Francisco Bay Area with her family.