A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Summery from Goodreads
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.
The anticipating sequel of "An Ember in the Ashes" was everything I loved in a well written sequel. Action, adventure, lots of traveling and romance. No Second Book Syndrome (SBS) here and since we'll have 2 more books in the series, I'm preparing for some major changes in both sides of good and evil.
A Torch Against the Night takes place right where we were left in the end of the first book. Laia and Elias are running for their lives as the Commandant is pursuing them. In a cruel, twisting way Elias's life is put in the worst and most agonizing danger I could ever imagine and Laia will have to find a way to save her brother too.
At the same time Helene, the new Blood Shrike, will be forced to hunt them down due to the Emperor's orders but dark forces are gathering and the plot thickens as a sub-plot makes its appearnce.
In this book, I came to admire Elias. Usually in YA we need strong heroines who make a place for themselves and prove their power over and over again. But sometimes there are also the male protagonists who deserve a medal for their own accomplishments. Elias knows what is happeming to him and despite everything he still wants to help Laia...and love her from afar. Was I surprised by the turn of some events? Very much. Did I want some things not to become so complicated? Yes, but also that's the beauty of Sabaa Tahir's writing.
Laia and Helene also have to deal with their own choices. And I think Helene had the hardest ones to make. What happens towards the ending of the book couldn't make me hate the Commandant more. I didn't expect the events to turn that way and Helene changed quite in the end of the book. Laia is strong, yet afraid which is really realistic. You can't be brave all the time and hope to defeat every single enemy in your way. Being afraid is what makes you more human. With more secondary characters making their appearance, the story was filled with lush descriptions and well hidden secrets.
I liked the second book more more than the first. All the characters experience change as they grow slowly and decide to make a stand for every evil thing that will come in their way. Very recommended and surely I'll read the sequel! ;)
And don't miss the first book of the series!
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