An Ember in the Ashes & A Torch Against the Night
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Okay, so a couple of weeks ago An Ember in the Ashes was only a $1.99 on Amazon and I was under the impression (the wrong one) that A Torch Against the Night was going to be the last book in the series so I figured it would be a good time to read.
Nope, not the last book in the series & now I’m stuck in another series. I feel like I’m being buried under series.
But I’m not going to digress any further. Naturally there are going to be spoilers for at least the first book so proceed with caution.
Laia is a slave hoping that if she survives the people whom she works for will save her brother. She is sent to spy on the incredibly cruel Commandant at the top training academy for the super soldiers. There she meets Elias, a boy who is very good at killing, but who also sees that it is wrong and he’s tired of the bloodshed and is willing to risk his life for something more.
An Ember in the Ashes is about setting these two up but first Laia must survive the Commandant and Elias is drawn into a Hunger Games like tournament where the survivor while be crowned the next Emperor. One he has to play against his best friend and a viscous school trouble-maker.
The first book was a pretty enjoyable read even though I didn’t feel like it was anything new or different. The Hunger Games vibes were very strong in that one. But I was still engrossed. I think part of it was Laia was so very obviously being strung along by certain people that I really needed her to realize that and have the truth come out.
The second book there’s a lot going on. The magic and the mythology of the story really gets built on here. Elias and Laia are now on the run and Helene (Elias former best friend) now Blood Shrike to the wretched Emperor and charged with hunting Elias down.
Again, it was an engrossing read I can’t deny that. There are enough pulls and draws to keep you guessing and wanting to see what happens. And it did give me a pretty good reason why I never liked Keenan (Laia’s rebel friend and love interest) that was a bit of a surprise.
Helene and her hunt for Elias was probably the most interesting part. I really felt for her. Yet I also thought this one suffered a bit by a lot happening in the book but nothing really important to the overall story. A lot of set-up for the next book I’m sure. It’s weird to explain because I overall liked this book but there are little threads here and there that bugged me.
Probably the biggest one, at this point, being the villains. They are so over the top during the second book that I’m not sure how they’re getting away with being alive. They’re basically performing brutal acts of genocide and violence through the country and even in the throne room. There’s a scene with the Commandant killing some prisoners, including children, that just (to me) came off as passing the point into silly almost.
That’s probably my biggest knock on the series right now but it really bugged. And not only is it mindless cruelty but the Commandant really should have been killed by now. Laia has a chance to kill her at one point that she, for some strange reason, doesn’t follow through on. Helene has a couple of chances. I’ll likely check out the third book. They are super quick reads. But I’m really hoping that the Emperor or the Commandant go early because I don’t know how much more of them I can take.
Recommend: Overall yes. They’re fun, quick reads but at the same time if you wait until the series is done you aren’t missing anything new.