An Ember in the Ashes, A Torch Against the Night and A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir were books 5,6 and 7 of my attempt to read 100 books in a year.
This is one of the few books I’ve read in recent years where I was immediately immersed in the world of the novels, it was so rich and the characters so vivid that I was immediately hooked. This was another series I picked from a ‘if you like x fantasy books, you will like this’ list and so far that little experiment has proved very profitable!
I was house/ cat sitting for a family friend when I read these books, so I used the peace and quiet of an empty house to get some reading done; I enjoyed the books so much that I actually lost track of time and spent an entire day reading them. This used to be kind of rare for me, as I had a stressful job and found switching off for that long quite difficult. The two main characters come from different races in the world the book is set in and this rich history is woven into the story, with very little exposition or use of flash backs, it feels very natural. As does the gradual picture building of the world itself, I really enjoyed how it didn’t feel forced or over-explained as it can be in books like this.
I loved the two main characters, Elias and Laia. Elias comes from the ruling class and, moreover, he is a soldier and top of his class in a brutal military school that is lead by his mother, a general in the Martial army. Laia comes from the race of people the Martial’s invaded and defeated in their history, who’ve since become a downtrodden, slave race under the totalitarian rule of the Martial’s. When her brother is arrested, Laia becomes involved with the resistance and ends up pretending to be a slave in the military School Elias attends, in order to help the resistance, who promise to free her brother in turn. Elias gets selected to take part in a competition that determine who will become the next Emperor. This is where the chain of events begins and how they cross each other’s paths, as it is revealed their fates our intertwined by a prophecy. Meanwhile, something deeper is going on, something to do with how the Scholor’s (Laia’s people) rose to power originally, before they were invaded by the Martial’s. They betrayed a magical race of people, the Djin and what happens to Elias and Laia is as a result of a deeper plot of revenge by their leader.
All of this is revealed in a beautifully gradual way across the course of events over these three books, ending in a bloody excellent cliff hanger, which had me reaching straight for my phone to google when the next book is out (next year, by the way!). The way their relationship develops and is delayed or prevented is really well done, it felt really authentic and not just a sudden burning, soul deep passion, as you get in a lot of these types of books… although I am a sucker for all that.
I think you can probably tell how much I enjoyed a book just by the length of the posts to be honest, so needless to say, I totally recommend giving these a read but maybe wait until we’re a little bit closer to the release of the next book, so you won’t be as frustrated as I am!
As always, here is the link to the Goodreads page on these books.