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.
7th book of the month finished! And all 7 have been books I’ve enjoyed! So happy with this month, hope this keeps up! I honestly can’t say that I enjoyed this book more or less than An Ember in the Ashes, I think this is equal to the first book.
You can find my spoiler free review for An Ember in the Ashes HERE!
This review could possibly contain spoilers for An Ember in the Ashes, mainly just spoilers for who survived that book and made it to this one. It’s hard to not talk about somethings, so just a warning.
I like the cover of this book but I also kinda wished that they did something a little more similar to An Ember in the Ashes. I wish that it showed us Kauf or somewhere rather than just a brick wall with a tunnel. I liked that part of An Ember in the Ashes’s cover because it made it easier to picture Blackcliff. It would have been cool to have that for Kauf.
Like I said in my An Ember in the Ashes review, Sabaa Tahir’s writing is nice and easy to read and I really like her world building. I also like her character development.
I was disappointed that this book didn’t have the maps in it though. I know it wouldn’t have needed the Blackcliff map as Blackcliff isn’t apart of this book. But I wish the map of Them Empire was in there as there was a lot more travelling in this book than the first one. I like to be able to track on the maps where characters are and where they are travelling so I ended up taking a photo of the map in An Ember in the Ashes on my iPad and having that open when I was reading. I also think it would have been cool to have a map of Kauf, like they did for Blackcliff in the first book as besides that its a ‘wheel’ shaped building/set out it was kinda hard to picture and know where the characters were.
This book was full of twists and turns, especially a couple shocking ones. So this plot was really good and kept me hooked the entire time. So much went on in this book, actually in both books, there was never a boring point. I also liked that we started seeing from the point of view of Helene in this book as well. That allowed the reader to see what was going on in the world outside of following Laia and her group to trying and break Darin out.
There is no way to say a couple things I want to without spoilers, so the bits in purple are spoilery.
I still enjoy Laia & Elias in this book. Laia is still one of the most relatable female heroin protagonists I have read about. She was always true to herself and will always be loyal to her family, the scholars and her friends. I still really enjoyed Izzi’s character. Out of all the character deaths and near deaths or deaths that we thought happened but actually didn’t Izzi’s got to me the most. All she every wanted was to survive and live and she stuck with her friend until the end, when she died in the book I had to stop reading for a second and get my head around it and I’m still not okay with it. While Keenan was Keenan I enjoyed him as a character. Afya was a new character that I enjoyed, we did meet her briefly in the first book, but we got to know her more in this one. I love how committed to her tribes believes she was and that when she made a vow she damn well stuck to it. I liked Tas, even though he was treated so poorly he was strong. There is one quote I want to share in regards to him that I loved.
“Rise Elias Veturius.” Tas smacks my face, and I blink at him in surprise. His eyes are fierce. “You gave me a name,” he says. “I want to live to hear it on the lips of others. Rise“
Marcus is an ass. Helene I don’t know how I feel, I enjoyed that she was loyal to the empire and seeing her struggle between what she wanted to do. I still kinda hated but enjoyed her. The Commandant can be thrown off the cliff at Antium for all I care, or do to her what she did to Elias, that would be good karma.
I really enjoyed this book and wish the next book was out so I could go read it straight away as I’m curious to find out what happens next with Darin, Laia, Elias and the Empire in general.
The field of battle is my temple. The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.
Well that is all for this review! If you have read An Ember in the Ashes or A Torch Against the Night then let me know in the comments and what you thought of them!