Hey readers! If you loved "An Ember in the Ashes," you're in for a treat with Sabaa Tahir's "A Torch Against the Night."

This sequel continues the journey of Laia, Elias, and Helene as they confront political intrigue and power struggles. Tahir's skillful storytelling weaves together compelling characters, intense action, and thought-provoking themes, making for an enthralling read.

Prepare for a suspenseful journey, packed with sacrifice and the fight for freedom. It's a must-read for fans of the series, promising an exciting continuation of the story.

Just a heads up, Reading Rhapsody could make money from sales or other compensation through any of the links on this page if you purchase something – that’s how I keep afloat! My reviews have been tweaked to ensure they are both concise and clear. Nevertheless, all opinions in this article are my own.

Book Details:

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: A Torch Against the Night

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Publication Date: August 30, 2016

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Epic Fantasy, Dystopia, Romance

An Ember in the Ashes Fantasy Series: Book 2

Spice Level: Zero. Longing and romantic tension. A kiss and a fade to a black scene. 

note: If you're into fantasy novels, politics, and epic adventures, "A Torch Against the Night" by Sabaa Tahir is a must-read. Packed with action, a dystopian world, and relatable characters, it's a fun and engaging story with elements of friendship, loyalty, and romance.

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Plot Synopsis:

"A Torch Against the Night" is the second book in the "An Ember in the Ashes" series by Sabaa Tahir. The story continues the adventures of Laia, Elias, and Helene in the brutal world of the Martial Empire. After the events of the first book, Laia and Elias are on the run from the authorities, facing dangers and challenges to save Laia's brother from the Empire's ruthless prison. Meanwhile, Helene is tasked with capturing them but is torn between loyalty to the Empire and her friendship with Elias. The plot is filled with political intrigue, betrayal, and a struggle for freedom in a world marked by oppression and magic. As the characters navigate this dangerous landscape, they must confront their demons and make difficult choices that will shape the fate of their world.

Spoiler Free Review:

I was hooked on this book – Sabaa Tahir knows how to spin a compelling story. I love how she dives into why characters do what they do. This time, we get a peek into Helene's perspective, which adds some depth to her character. Even though I wasn't a fan of her in the first book, her combat skills make up for some questionable choices.

Laia, however, isn't doing it for me in this one. She feels a bit too delicate for a main character, and I prefer leads who can hold their own. Elias is by far my favorite character; he sticks to his beliefs without fluff.

The supporting characters bring a lot to the table, and while not every plot twist is my favorite, they keep things interesting. Plus, the story moves at a quick pace, which I'm all about.

In-Depth Review

In the following section, I'll be delving into specific details and plot points of the book. If you haven't read the book yet and wish to avoid spoilers, I strongly recommend pausing here and returning after you've completed the book to fully enjoy the experience. For those who have already delved into the story, let's now explore some in-depth aspects and discuss key moments that make this literary journey truly captivating.

Plot summary:

"A Torch Against the Night" picks up right after "An Ember in the Ashes." Our main characters, Laia, a former slave, and Elias, an elite soldier, are in serious trouble. They're being hunted in the Empire's catacombs by the Commandant and her minions, who want them dead for defying the Empire.

In a tense escape, Elias fights the Commandant but chooses not to kill her, leaving Laia worried about the consequences. As they navigate through tunnels, they face obstacles, including a girl demanding payment to exit. Laia's refusal to pay leads to their freedom but not without a price.

Elias collapses due to a poison attack by the Commandant. Laia, determined to save him, learns the poison is fatal, giving Elias only five months to live. Despite Elias urging her to focus on her survival, Laia embarks on a quest for a cure.

Trespassing sacred tribal lands becomes a new challenge, leading to a confrontation with tribesmen. The duo's status as fugitives puts them at risk, with Elias's former friend, Helene, now working for the Empire, tasked with bringing him back dead. She reluctantly obeys, driven by the threat to her family.

After escaping the tribesmen, Laia aims to build an army against the Emperor, involving her imprisoned brother, Darin. Elias's health worsens, yet Laia refuses to abandon him as they head to the city of Kauf.

Unaware of Helene's pursuit, Laia faces a city shutdown orchestrated by Helene. Elias confronts Helene about her allegiance, learning she acts under duress to protect her family. Elias promises help if she defects to the rebel cause.

Elias decides to infiltrate the dangerous Martial prison alone to spare Laia. Helene, claiming inability to find Elias, faces consequences from the Emperor, executing rebel families while planning to join Elias's cause.

Inside the Kauf prison, Elias discovers Darin's apparent death, facing imminent execution. However, a twist reveals Darin alive in the neighboring cell. Elias, facing death, makes a pact with the gods in purgatory to continue his mission, planning to smuggle Darin out.

The Emperor retaliates against Helene's betrayal, executing her family. Helene pursues Elias and Darin, now on the run. Laia reunites with them, setting the stage for the next chapter in book three.

My Thoughts:

I found myself completely engrossed in the characters' struggles and growth. Laia's unwavering determination to rescue her brother, Elias's intense battle for survival after desertion, and Helene's internal conflict between loyalty and friendship were all portrayed with such emotional depth. It wasn't just storytelling; it felt like I was experiencing their challenges alongside them. The characters became more than just words on a page—they felt real and relatable, making me genuinely care about their journeys.

The world-building in the book was a standout for me. Tahir's vivid descriptions of the Mojave Desert brought the Martial Empire and its diverse cultures to life. What I particularly loved was how seamlessly she integrated magical elements like jinn and efrits into the narrative. It added a fantastical layer that elevated the entire story.

The plot of the book was fast-paced with unexpected twists and turns that kept me engaged from start to finish. Tahir has a remarkable talent for skillfully blending high stakes and constant challenges for the characters, creating a sense of urgency that drove the narrative and made it an exciting experience.

However, no story is perfect, and there were a couple of aspects that didn't resonate with me as much. While the plot was gripping, there were moments when I felt it moved a bit too quickly, and I wished for more time to savor certain developments. Also, some secondary characters felt underdeveloped, and I would have liked to see more depth in their stories.

However, what stood out to me the most was the exploration of complex themes such as resistance, sacrifice, and the consequences of power. The story delves into morality and presents challenging decisions for the characters. This made the story more than just a fantasy adventure.

"A Torch Against the Night" had great characters with character growth, a vivid world, and an exciting plot with dark forces. Although some moments left me wanting more, the overall experience was enjoyable and kept me eager for the next installment in the series.

Thanks for reading!