Elias and Laia are running for their lives.
Following the events of the Fourth Trial, an army led by Masks hunts the two fugitives as they escape the city of Serra and journey across the vast lands of the Martial Empire.
Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—and save her brother, whose knowledge of Serric steel is the key to the Scholars' future. And Elias is determined to stay by Laia’s side...even if it means giving up his own chance at freedom.
But Elias and Laia will have to fight every step of the way if they’re going 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.
Helene’s mission is horrifying, unwanted, and clear: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape...and kill them both.
A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)by Sabaa Tahir
Gorgeous as it is ferocious, the follow-up to An Ember in the Ashes (Ember in the Ashes #1) by YA Fantasy author Sabaa Tahir, A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2), radiates genius.
The second book in the series has everything readers loved, and loved to hate in the first novel – a sadistic blood thirsty Empire, fantastically mysterious fey creatures, love, loyalty, treachery...and soooo much more!
Elias and Laia continue to alternate narratives as they flee for their lives, and a third narrator, Helene, is added to the mix as she is tasked with hunting them down. The additional spotlight on Helene does nothing but add to the plight of Elias and Laia, and I for one think she might steal more than one reader's heart.
The rotation in narrative between Elias, Laia, and Helene is a clever way to keep the plot flowing while gripping readers attention, as well as giving the reader a broad range of perspectives about each characters' outlook. It could be a confusing fluctuation if it wasn't for the author's keen sense of balancing each of the teller's timelines in a measured fluidity.
As the story progresses so does the development and role of the characters, protagonist and secondary alike. This is also true for the curious fey-like creatures revealed in the first novel. The discoveries and incidents that happened in An Ember in the Ashes are referenced often, and for this reason I would strongly suggest that readers become familiar with the first novel in the series; it will be extremely beneficial for understating its sequel.
Fast-paced and cleverly mysterious, readers will be shocked more than once as revelations come to light and situations continue to get even more complex. Will things ever be truly resolved in this vicious society? Readers will have to wait and see as the third installment of the 4-part series is set to come out sometime in 2018.
“Most people...are nothing but glimmers in the great darkness of time. But you, …, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.”
Review of an Advance Reader's Copy
Profanity/Language: 119 mild obscenities; 18 derogatory names; 4 scatological words; 2 anatomical terms.
Violence/Gore: Several (15+) mentions of past violence (killing/murder/violent encounters) happening in previous book; several (12+) depictions of injuries occurring during violent exchanges; few (less than 10) brief scenes of non-detailed violent death(s), 1 extended scene; mention of murder victim being a rapist; mention that a man has a taste for young girls, implying sinister sexual behavior; character is accused of being a rapist; male character bites female's lip in a sexually threatening violent way; many (70+) reports, threats, and implications of violence, some include the use of weapons and brute force, several (10+) are extended scenes that are detailed; a few scenes (less than 5) of destruction of property, 1 extended scene; many (30+) violent acts/exchanges between characters include fighting (sometimes) with weapons, brute force, killing/hurting/maiming/torturing, blood and injuries depicted, (10+) extended scenes (some of these scenes are adults hurting children); few (about 5) extended scenes of especially intense descriptive violence that includes blood and gore.
Sex/Nudity: Mention of couple holding hands; characters are believed to be lovers; female character becomes embarrassed at how close she must sit near male character as they ride on a horse; male character calls female character beautiful; mention that couple was to be married; characters desire to kiss (2x); mention of murder victim being a rapist; mention that a man has a taste for young girls, implying sinister sexual behavior; character has romantic thoughts about another character; extended scene (about 1 page) characters hug and talk about their romantic feelings, desire to be physically intimate; mention of brothel; character is accused of being a rapist; male soldiers are ordered to keep their hands to themselves and not look at women; brief romantic moment between characters; mention of seducing/seduction (2x); male character flirts with female character; comment made about female character's hips, implying they are good for childbirth; mention of herbs used to stop/help with menstrual cycle /used as birth control (2x); memory of kiss; talk of love; characters flirt; extended scene (about 1 page) character is accused of being unfaithful to his wife, his mistresses having children; male character bites female's lip in a sexually threatening/violent way; a few sexual inferences, some homosexual in manner; a few times characters embrace; male and female character huddle together to stay warm, sexual tension/thoughts; extended scene (about 1 page) detailed kissing, touching and removal of clothing, implication of unwed characters having sex; romantic touch; male and female sleep next to one another holding hands; brief implication of sexual activity between married couple (2x); extended scene (about 1 page) characters kiss romantically.
Mature Subject Matter:
Slavery/oppression, tyranny, death/murder/mass murder/murder of loved one(s), threat of war, beatings/torture/physical and mental abuse, imprisonment, sickness.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Mentions of smoking; illegal drug used as poison; a few mentions of wine/ale/alcohol/taverns.
Reviewed By MaryLou