A Torch Against the Night – 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.

Review : “But you, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.”

The Torch Against the Night, was the most awaited book of the year. It wasn’t as enjoyable as The Ember In the Ashes though. Hence, three point five stars.

It starts off exactly where the last book left us, with Laia and Elias on the run through the caves, while soldiers follow them. Laia and Elias together, weeee.
But the book in general was not very “wee”.

What the hell happened to Laia in this book? Mistake after mistake, every move she made was a mistake. It was painful. More than the mistakes, (which I am honestly fine with) was the self loathing. She doubted herself too much, so did Elias. I felt annoyed by her, she seemed almost whiny. Laia hadn’t been much of a warrior in the first book but at least she had a spine and made her own decisions. That spirit of hers, went right out of her Serran window. Also, I no more ship Elias and Laia, like absolutely not.

Elias, I have absolutely no words for. He is the most humane character in the book. He was a little distracted with his past for the first couple of chapters, but that is fair. He definitely sacrificed a lot, and all his twists and plans just made me love him more. He has such presence of mind, gosh. Although, I don’t have a good feeling about his future.

The character that drove the plot and the entire book, at least for me, was Helene. Never have I adored a character as much I adore her. She is the epitome of sacrifice, loyalty and hard choices. She is such a wonderful, realistic, beautiful, brave and courageous woman, I wish she gets the end that she deserves. In terms of the people in the book, everyone seemed so hardened and stuffy, like they weren’t true to themselves.

Keenan was an entirely different story, and Izzi I love, but Cook(?) and the Commandant and Marcus. Don’t get me wrong Marcus, Commandant and Warden are a bunch of sadists, horrible, ruthless and villainous. However, Commandant wasn’t what she had been in the last one. Marcus was brutal yes, but there was something missing (maybe it’s the loss of his brother!).

The plot of the book was amazing. There were some instances which didn’t really make sense, were almost unnecessary, but I guess it can’t be all perfect. And I’m maybe drawing a link between two concepts which aren’t really there, but when she writes I feel like she’s making a bigger point. Fantasy is a garb, which actually talks about the real world- with one superpower, dominating other countries. The war, bloodshed and the capitalistic black markets, the trade; it is uncannily similar to what is happening in some parts of the real world right now. And her crassness and openness to address these issues, through a fantastical world, is what ultimate drives the point of the novel.

This isn’t a negative review, rather a disappointed one. I was really taken with her writing in Ember in the Ashes, but I couldn’t help but think that in this book she was beating around the bush too much and wasn’t addressing anything of consequence. Apart from, of course some really surprising plot twists. However I would still recommend it, because on a larger level it is a brilliant story.

“Failure doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.” 

(see what I did there with the quote *wink wink*)


Painting Stories. 



2 thoughts on “A Torch Against the Night – Sabaa Tahir

  1. I felt the same!! I loved Ember but was disappointed with this book for some reasons. And Helene, oh my god, Helene! My heart broke for her and I really wish she gets the ending she deserves! With Elias, well, honestly I didn’t like what happened to him but we’re yet to find out how his story goes in the last book. I won’t mention Laia anymore because until now I still don’t know what happened to her character! I loved her in Ember but not so anymore in this book. Nice review, by the way! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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