Status: Read from Feb 25 to Feb 26, 2017
My rating: /5
Author: Sabaa Tahir
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.
If you liked the first book in this series, you will love this book. It picks up the story where it left in the first book. The bloodshed and brutality is as it was expected given the plot in the story. Elias, i love him even more in this book. Laia has emerged as more bold and strong character, and more determined taking her own decision in this book. Helen has outshined everyone else. She played a small but very important role in the first story and i had expected more from her in the second one. True to that, she is the torch against the night. She took all the right decision for the Empire as the newest Blood Shrike, even though it broke her heart into pieces.
As in the first book, at every step the reader will worry about Elias and Laia, about their safety and their future, and their mission. The otherworldly characters, nightbringer and jinns adds the unexpected twists and give direction to the story.
Death is so close to Elias at every step. I just wanted Elias to be always there for Laia. And he stayed and helped Laia in her mission. I had expected that he will have to give up his last chance at freedom. I really love him for his struggle to fight against the poison in his body and keep moving and take the lead and right decision in his limited time to help Laia to free his brother from the most dangerous prison Kauf of the Empire. After getting captured in Kauf and being brutally interrogated by the sadistic Warden, he kept himself strong against all odds and used his presence of mind and skills to make the mission a success.
Laia’s character has improved very strongly in this book, from a mere timid Scholar girl in the first book. She had confusions and doubts but she took her decisions very determinedly. But she had her feelings fluctuating between Elias and Kennan. I think that’s because she didn’t wanted to hurt both. But Elias never felt bad to see Laia with Kennan, though he was rough with Kennan, might be because he knew that he is going to die soon. Laia discovers her hidden power. She emerged more smart and more strong in this story.
I felt Helen as the most strong character in this story. It was heartbreaking to see her family killed before her own eyes. Her struggle to capture Elias, the fugitive, and to kill him will make one cry. Everyone she loved was killed. The cunning and bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus blackmails her with her family members. And the merciless Commandant plans a plot to keep her away from the Empire. Helen does everything right for the Empire. She is one shining star who outshines everyone one, and the Emperor Marcus and the Commandant does not deserve her. I want her to take revenge from both for what they did to her family. My feeling for Avitas Harper softens by the way his behavior and action changes for Helen by the end.
I had never liked Kennan. Though he helped Laia many times, i had a feeling that he has his own selfish reasons behind it. I felt bad when Elias left on horseback to fulfill the mission, when he got the knowledge the he is left with very less time. I could not imagine Laia alone with Kennan. Now I know why.
I loved the way how Afya turned up, when least expected, in the end to help out Laia when she was all alone, boosted her confidence and moral level and kept her promise. The mission was a great team work, with Elias and Laia as the mastermind. Everyone who helped them both for this, there contribution was very valuable including the efforts and risks taken by the scholar slave kids Tas and Bee.
A great and progressive story. The ending has left so much more to explore in the next book to come.
“So long as you fight the darkness, you stand in the light.”
About the Author:
Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.