A Torch Against the Night

A Torch Against the Night

Book - 2016
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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.
Publisher: [New York, New York] :, Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House,, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781101998878
1101998873
Branch Call Number: Y FIC TAHI
Characteristics: 452 pages : maps ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Tahir, Sabaa

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Chapel_Hill_JessicaO Jul 23, 2017

A Torch Against the Night is the long-awaited second installment in author Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes series. After devouring both books in less than two weeks, it is safe to admit this is a strong recommendation from me.

The Ember in the Ashes series is definitely the next big YA hype train you should jump on. The series follows the story of Laia, a young woman who lives in the Martial Empire (Picture Ancient Rome). This oppressive and brutal regime enslaves many people, stifles dissent and is generally all-around terrible. While the first book can be dark and oppressive, it is the characters that bring forth the hope in the story. Torch Against the Night basically picks up right where Ember left off.

The Ember series is written in that alternating character point-of-view format that you probably already either love or hate if you’re a regular reader of YA fiction. In this follow-up, we get three alternating points of view from Laia, Elias and Helene, broken up into four sections. The short chapters and constant switch between perspectives help readers better understand the inner-workings of each character. And Elias’ best friend and fellow Empire soldier Helene Aquilla is finally given her own voice in Torch...no shocker that she is fascinating!

All in All I thought this was a very successful sequel. Tahir managed to surprise me at several turns in the book. I have so many questions that I’m hoping the next two books will answer and not disappoint.

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mightyminnie
Jun 28, 2017

Very much enjoyed this book. Laia grows so much in this book!

JCLChrisK May 18, 2017

A sequel worthy of its predecessor. Continues and expands the ongoing story, increasing the stakes and costs. Elaborate and gripping. Top notch.

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happycanuck
Feb 24, 2017

Found the ending a bit confusing but, in general, it was another great read with unique twists and turns.

AL_KELSEY Feb 14, 2017

As far as sequels go, this was very well done. Not only did Tahir build on her already incredible characters, but she introduces a few new people, as well as building the dark force taking over. Laia is a wonderful character--and while she makes very obvious mistakes, she is still growing and Tahir makes it clear she is still building her character. I can't wait to see what's in store for her next!

kirstd31 Nov 21, 2016

This book is better than the first. Helen is my favorite character. How can she protect her friends and family and still do her job? A story full of adventure and twists and turns. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

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shayshortt
Oct 18, 2016

A Torch Against the Night picks up right from where An Ember in the Ashes left off, with Elias and Laia trying to flee Blackcliff in the aftermath of the Trials. There is no second-book lag here, but an immediate plunge into a high-stakes mission. The action is fast-paced, and I raced through the entire volume in twenty-four hours. Sabaa Tahir puts an additional clock on the action when Elias is poisoned, giving further urgency to their journey. Scholar rebel Keenan and escaped slave Izzi rejoin the action, forming an uneasy alliance as the group disagrees about how best to effect Darin’s rescue from the supposedly impenetrable Kauf. Keenan remains a somewhat uninspiring rival for Laia’s affections, but Izzi’s return was welcome, even if Tahir does not put her to particularly good use.
Full review: https://shayshortt.com/2016/10/18/a-torch-against-the-night/

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ADWithrow
Oct 16, 2016

I loved, loved, loved this follow up! Sabaa Tahir clearly has figured out my weakness. Elias is my perfect book boyfriend.

I adored Elias and Laia in the first book in this series and that love continued here. A bit more for Elias than Laia admittedly. Elias was strong, while staying flawed in a way that prevented him from feeling robotic. Elias was one of the easiest characters for me to connect with. He was brave and sympathetic while still being strong when needed. I loved that he didn't force his will on Laia and allowed her to decide how the mission would progress. Even when it went against his instincts he recognized that Laia had to make those decisions and he trusted her to do so (most of the time). My adoration for Elias made this book difficult since he spends so much of his time struggling. I liked that he didn't fight the inevitable and was most concerned with ensuring he was useful to the end. It would have been very easy to allow this character to fall into uselessless, wallowing in guilt and self pity, but Tahir avoided all of that and made sure Elias was integral to the plot. I am actually quite pleased with the outcome, but I was on a razor's edge throughout the book waiting for the worst.

Laia did irritate me some when it came to her interactions with Keenan. I feel like she forgot about Elias a little too easily for having spent so much time caring for him and traveling with him. Not to mention the sacrifices he has already made for her. I understand her anger at him leaving but she seemed a little too eager to crawl back to Keenan for comfort. Which clearly doesn't work out well for her. I did like that she didn't immediately jump from one interest to another, though. I just wish that she would have put a bit more faith in Elias. I will admit that some of my irritation with Laia is due to my love for Elias, and may be exactly what Tahir wanted when writing this particular section of the plot. I appreciate Elias even more for his reaction to Laia's choices and for not judging her once they are reunited.

Helene was another character that I truly like. She clearly struggled in her new role as Blood Shrike but she stayed strong in her loyalty to her oath, even if she hated it. She was constantly placed in a struggle between her heart and her duty but that struggle never felt contrived. I appreciate that she was capable of being human and still possessing feelings while remaining a strong female character. I also appreciate that Tahir did not feel the need to supply a love interest for her. Helene didn't need that as such a strong character.

Marcus and the Commandant were both still terrible human beings that I absolutely despise, which makes for a great book. The Soul Catcher was an interesting character for me, though really a side note to set up Elias. She never mattered so much as what she represented for Elias's future.

The Nightbringer is a great villain for the series. I love that he is pulling all these strings from the outside, with his own agenda in mind, but still has to force himself into situations where his feelings are true and real. That, coupled, with his backstory makes him a somewhat sympathetic villain. I look forward to seeing the development here as the series progresses.

AL_CATHERINE Sep 15, 2016

One of those rare times that the sequel is actually better than the first book...mostly because there was even more Helene! I love where Tahir is going with this story! Can't wait for the next one!

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mauve_ant_91
Apr 23, 2017

mauve_ant_91 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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KaylaVaughan
Jan 27, 2017

KaylaVaughan thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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white_horse_641
Jan 06, 2017

white_horse_641 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Summary

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shayshortt
Oct 18, 2016

The Trials are over, and Marcus has been crowned the new Emperor of the Martials, with Helene Aquilla sworn to serve as his Blood Shrike despite her reservations. Elias and Laia flee the capital on a mission to free her brother, Darin, who is being held in Kauf prison. With the knowledge of how to forge Serric steel, he has the potential to change the course of the Scholar rebellion. They must figure out how to outwit Kauf’s sadistic Warden to free Darin, assuming he is still alive. But first they will need traverse half the Empire to get to him, and Helene Aquilla is on their heels. Now sworn as Blood Shrike, and with her family as hostages, she is charged with killing the traitor Elias Veturius in order to secure Marcus’ rule.

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blue_bear_704
Dec 05, 2016

Sexual Content: Way more than the first book. If this was a movie it would be rated R!

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shayshortt
Oct 18, 2016

Failure doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.

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