A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

25558608Elias 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.

I love that Laia is coming more into herself and gaining more and more confidence now that she’s no longer under the Commandant’s control. I think her relationship with Elias has a lot to do with that, and I can definitely appreciate that. When he leaves to go be all noble and save her brother before he dies, and she’s left with Keenan, we can still feel her missing him and she starts to realize that she was becoming the girl she was meant to be with him; he helps her feel strong. I just don’t feel that connection with Keenan. Logically, I know they spend a lot of time alone together after Elias leaves, but most of their “bonding” we don’t see, so I don’t feel it.

I liked Elias a lot more in this one than the first one. I wanted to like him in Ember but his total idiocy with Helene made me angry. So, I’m definitely not as annoyed by him. The fact that he’s slowly dying ramps up the angst factor, and because I’m predictable, I love it. While I wish there was still more about the Augurs, I liked that we’re getting to know the fey and the Nightbringer through Elias and his trips to the Waiting Place.

I think I love Helene’s struggle the most. Always the devoted friend, and certainly one of the most faithful to the Augurs and their system, she’s definitely learning what it means to believe in them and what sacrifices she will have to make. Her internal struggle with her belief in the Augurs and whether or not she should save Elias, even if it means her family’s lives is written so well. I never know what she’s going to do or she’s going to react and I think that makes her a wonderful character to read.

The story itself is excellent, enough magic and intrigue to keep you guessing, but also non-stop action picking up right where Ember left off. There are a couple slow parts throughout the book, and there are times when it jumps too fast from one time to the next. It seems like it’s still trying to find a good rhythm.

Overall, four bards.
fourbards

Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

27774758Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Some thoughts I texted to Jess while reading:

  1. Oh no my best friends in love with me. Are all girls like this?
  2. Why are they so confusing I can’t handle basic human emotions and I just generalize all girls because she’s the only one I know
  3. I liked it at first because she wasn’t in love with him. She was annoyed when he stared at her and told him to get his life together
  4. So not only is his best friend a girl and in love with him, he finally meets the other main character and they fall in love instantly blah blah blah
    I mean, they’re not together, but they had that instant eyes meeting let’s stare at each other for minutes on end like nothing else mattered before now
  5. “I shout at her now because I’m so angry at her for loving me”
    This is an actual sentence that I just had to read with my own two eyes
    “If she had controlled her emotions we never would have fought”
    Aaaaaaand it got worse
  6. I want to like Elias, I really do, but he’s so [damn] stupid that I want to shove him off a cliff.
    And we’ve gotten to the part where the best friend hates being in love him. Of course.
  7. Honestly, if this book were only Elias, I wouldn’t keep reading. I like Laia’s story so far. Even if she can’t help loving Elias because that’s what you do in a YA novel.
  8. It is strange though that they both have other love interests. It’s a love square instead of a triangle.
    I mean, there’s not much to know about Keenan so far. Other than he’s with the resistance. And her father saved his life. At least he’s not an idiot like Elias.
  9. And now, Elias and Helene have to fight each other to the death. That’s one way to get rid of a love interest.
    So. He didn’t kill his best friend. But they literally gave him Laia as a prize for winning.
    Gross.

Now for a semi-real review:

This book mentions rape as a punishment for women, almost every other chapter. Not only mentions but characters are actively threatening (and almost succeeding) to rape other characters. And I am just… so tired. I need for all authors to do better.

I almost didn’t finish this book, but I have hope for the next one. Because the story is interesting and I want to know what happens. The idea of the augurs basically overthrowing the current emperor to host the trials for a new one is pretty interesting. The weird family dynamic of Gens Veturius is intriguing. Plus the drama within the resistance and how Laia and her family are connected and the betrayal that got her parents killed. I’m waiting every other chapter to see if it’s finally revealed. I’m always expecting anyone she talks to to slip up and give a hint that they were part of the reason her family was killed.

As annoyed as I was at some parts of the book, I’m excited to read the next one, and I’d give this one 3.5 bards.

3.5bards

 

 

 


Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

25558608

Release Date: August 30, 2016

A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.





 

http://www.amidsummernightsread.com/2714-2/

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: April 28, 2015

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.
 
ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.
 
When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Vow your blood and body to the empire.
Keep your heart for yourself.

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