My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Author: Sabaa Tahir
I loved An Ember In The Ashes so much. The world, the characters, and the magic. It was all so perfect. Needless to say I was anxious to get my hands on the sequel. I was afraid Sabaa Tahir was going to ruin it but she did a pretty decent job.
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.
Laia is such a well developed character. At the beginning of the first book she was lost. At the beginning of this one she's found where she's going and nothing is going to get in her way. I've loved every minute of seeing her grow. Usually the female lead is already strong and just seems to grow stronger. In this story Laia starts at the bottom and we get to see her go all the way to the top. Her relationship with Elias is so satisfying. No insta love or anything like that.
I will admit that in the first book I had some hard feelings for Helene. She seemed so bitter and uncaring. But just like Laia and Elias we get to see her character grow and develop. By the end of ATATN she had earned my respect. She's brave and determined and loves her family more than herself. I'm eager to see where the next book takes her.
We get to see more of the world Sabaa Tahir has created in this story. We go outside of the Martial school and into lands that posses their own people and magic. One of my favorite things in this story is that you can feel the anger, or the fear, or the pride coming off the characters. The nation is at war and you can't tell who is a friend or an enemy. Most dystopian stories are already in full rebellion or on the edge of it. In this world we are feeling the need for war. Watching as brother turns on brother, and friend turns to enemy. Sabaa Tahir has woven a story full of pain, heartbreak, and betrayal and though it may crush your heart you will enjoy every second of it.
My only problem with his book is the lull right in the middle. We start out fast jumping in right where we left off in the first book and it doesn't seem to slow down. But then all of a sudden we seem to hit a few chapters where everyone is waiting. There's no action, or twists. It just seems to stop. And then BAM it all gets going again. That's not any reason to not read the book ( SERIOUSLY read them) it just seemed to be an unnecessary stand still.
All in all this series is amazing so far. I'm an obsessive fantasy reader so finding authors that write like this just makes me so happy. If you love fantasy then these books are for you.