A Torch Against the Night (Ember Quartet, #2)

by Sabaa Tahir

4.23 of 5 stars 26 ratings • 7 reviews • 58 shelved
Book cover for A Torch Against the Night

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A Torch Against the Night (Ember Quartet, #2)

by Sabaa Tahir

4.23 of 5 stars 26 ratings • 7 reviews • 58 shelved

'Tahir spins a captivating, heart-pounding fantasy' Us Weekly

The sequel to the explosive New York Times bestselling debut AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, that's captivated readers worldwide.

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt Elias and Laia as they flee the city of Serra.

Laia and Elias are determined to break into the Empire's most secure and dangerous prison to save Laia's brother, even if for Elias it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

They will have to 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.

In 2015, one book emerged as the most highly acclaimed fantasy debut. Now, the sequel will set the world on fire.

  • ISBN13 9780008160371
  • Publish Date 21 August 2017 (first published 5 May 2016)
  • Publish Status Active
  • Publish Country GB
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • Imprint HarperCollins
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 480
  • Language English


Avatar for biblioholicbeth

Beth C. 4 of 5 stars
After reading book one and ruling it one of my favorites for the year, I shouldn't have been surprised to find that I absolutely loved this one as well. Beginning exactly where the first one left off, it continues with the story of Laia trying to free her brother from a notorious prison. This is the first time in quite a while that I stayed up way past my bedtime, because I was so engrossed in the story. Looking forward to #3!

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Austine (NovelKnight) 4 of 5 stars
So that just happened.

I'm debating what would be a worse torture. Sitting around waiting until the next book releases or burning my eyes out (fitting, right?). It's a toss-up. This has become a habit. Reading a book as soon as it releases then living the slow destruction of my mental state waiting for the next book.

It's a cruel, cruel world.

Picking up after An Ember in the Ashes, the next installment in the series follows Elias and Laia as they remain on the run from the Empire intent on destroying them both. And who better to find the elusive pair than Elias's best friend Helene?

There's a lot of action this time around, separated by sections that dragged in comparison, making the pacing a little uneven. Everything I ever wanted from the last book was fulfilled, from the world-building and supernatural elements (like the ending reveal, like okay now, you just want us to starve until the next book, right?). And Helene. I wanted her to have a bigger role because she's probably my favorite character of the series and she gets her own PoV chapters!

Yes, I am very happy about this.

Helene was such a strong supporting character in AEITA and holds more secrets than I'm sure we know. I loved watching her change over the course of Torch as her orders force her to do the exact thing she wanted to avoid: killing her best friend. It was heart-breaking to watch her transformation but I have a feeling that she's gonna rock this whole world.

Elias and Laia are also playing a crucial part once more, on the run together while Elias fights off death with each step and Laia royally screws up each step. I still don't like her. Didn't like her in the first book and that hasn't changed. She was better this time around, though, and despite all of her mistakes she continued to press onward on the mission to save her brother. Elias, on the other hand, is one of my favorite heroes in YA fantasy. He goes into full boss mode and makes the tough choices to save others, even Helene who is under orders to ensure his demise.

Also, I will always ship Elias/Helene and y'all can't tell me otherwise. I believe in them despite Elias and his big "I will protect you all" decision.

*sigh* Elias.

The story itself went in a million different directions but yet all one. A lot happened between Helene, Elias, and Laia as each had their own journey to make this time. Laia's mission to free Darin still plays center stage but there's more on the actual Empire, the world where all this occurs, as they travel to places like Elias's tribe and the prison where Darin is. Plus, old players from AEITA are back and nastier than ever.

One thing I love about these books are the villains. Give me someone who thinks they're doing the right thing. Give me someone who is brutal and vicious but can be just as logical and calculated. Give me someone with so many layers I have to peel them apart to get anywhere. Give me Keris. Give me Marcus. And give me the Nightbringer. These three are in my book of favorite villains. Keris is beyond merciless, a murderer through and through. Marcus sees his actions as a way to unite the Empire despite his inexperience. And the Nightbrighter has a whole new history to be revealed.

I'm not sure I can wait for the next book.

Avatar for kimbacaffeinate

The wait for A Torch Against the Night seemed painfully long, but Tahir rewarded readers with an emotionally charged tale that had me holding my breath. The story is dark and filled with impossible quests, gut wrenching twists as you root for these characters. Her Roman type dystopian world is bloody and oppressive. We witness genocides, deception, ruthless killings and more.

The first tale had two POV’s those of Elias and Laia, but in A Torch Against the Night Tahir introduced Helene’s narrative and it was bloody brilliant. Helene has become Blood Strike, and her story at times stole the show. She is given the impossible task of capturing and killing Elias. Elias and Laia are on a quest to rescue her brother Darin. Their quest is filled with danger and discoveries. Tahir delivered an addictive story with twists, turns and betrayals. At times I could do nothing more than stop in place, hold my breath and listen.

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

Saab Tahir continued to flesh out the world, giving us a firmer grasp of the hierarchy, political climate and supernatural elements of this world. Laia continues to surprise, and I am curious about her ultimate role as this story continues.

Tahir’s writing is vivid and her prose like musical notes to my ear. Not only did she capture the emotions of each character she brought each scene to life. As Elias and Laia traveled a sandstorm kicked up, and she allowed me to experience it. I could taste the sand and hear the relentless wind. We travel through villages and forests as we make our way towards the prison. Along the way, we learn more about the characters face Helene’s pursuit and pick up allies. It was intense and Tahir did not spare our feelings as she conjured up this brutal world.

“It takes only a split second for life to go horribly wrong. To fix the mess, I need a thousand things to go right. The distance from one bit of luck to the next feels as great as the distance across oceans. But, I decide in this moment, I will bridge that distance, again and again, until I win. I will not fail.”

Tahir’s writing lends itself perfectly to audio and the narrators certainly enhanced my experience. I adore Fiona Hardingham accent and it lends itself perfectly for the voice of Laia. Steve West brings Elias to life. I particularly loved Katherine McEwan’s rendition of Helene. I felt she captured Helene’s insecurities and struggles. At this point I cannot imagine enjoying this series any other way.

Audio provided by publisher, This review was originally posted on Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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littleread1 5 of 5 stars
I don't know how my heart can be both broken and full, but this book managed to do that. I HAD to stay up late to finish it, and hopefully sleep will bring me the clarity I need to put coherent words together to explain my feelings without spoilers.


What can I say other than amazing. A Torch Against the Night is without a doubt one of my top reads of 2016. Picking up exactly where An Ember in the Ashes left us, we start with Elias and Laia attempting to escape Blackcliff and Serra intact. While Ember had only their points of view, a third is added into Torch, that of Helene, Elias's best friend during his training at Blackcliff. At first I wasn't sure I wanted to know her point of view, however she became almost as important as the other two.

There is almost no down time in Torch, for anyone. The entire story had me anxious to see what happened next, but nervous to find out. We see many familiar faces, and there are a few moments where our heroes get to enjoy some peace, but those are few and far between. I was shocked and destroyed a few times, and there was a twist I did not even a little bit see coming that wrecked my soul in the worst and best possible way. I can't really explain it here without ruining the story for you, but read it and you will see what I mean. And I am happy to discuss it with you privately. Email me, message me, tweet me - I need NEED to discuss this with someone.

The ending was pretty much exactly what I needed. It obviously doesn't wrap everything up because this is a trilogy, but it doesn't leave us in the middle of an escape like Ember did. So if you are one of those people that don't like to read cliffhangers, relax, this is one you can read before the next book comes out.

If you have yet to read Ember, what are you waiting for? It is one of my all-time favorite books (I own an ecopy, the audio book, AND hard cover) and Torch does not suffer from "second-book syndrome." Read it. Love it. Then talk to me about it.

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cornerfolds 5 of 5 stars
Read more of my reviews at Cornerfolds.com!

Initial reaction:

An Ember in the Ashes was one of my top five reads of 2015 and, if you read it, you know that I was basically dying to get A Torch Against the Night for the last year! I got the opportunity to read an advanced copy and snatched it up in a hurry, fully expecting to be totally blown away by this second installment.

A Torch Against the Night picks up right where Ember left off, with Laia and Elias on the run from the Empire and on a mission to save Laia's brother. Helene receives a prominent position next to Marcus and must decide whether her loyalty is to the Empire or to Elias, who has essentially left her for Laia. These three characters are the focus of the story with alternating points of view between them. I've seen people talk about how different the characters were in this book, but I can't say I really saw that. Laia is forced to become more of a badass out of necessity and Elias has to change his approaches for his own reasons as well, but I felt these were realistic changes based on circumstances. At the end of it all, I still absolutely adore Elias!

I also really enjoyed reading chapters from Helene's perspective, although I did roll my eyes at first. I didn't love her in book one, but after Torch, she is one of my new favorite characters! Her struggle was real and I felt so much sympathy for her as she tried to decide which side she was on. I can't wait to see where her story goes!

The villain(s) in A Torch Against the Night are, frankly, terrifying! And yes, there are several of them, although they all seem to be working together. Of course, the Commandant and Marcus are the two most obvious baddies in this story and I won't ruin the rest for you. These two are peas in a pod and are both unsettlingly despicable. There is literally nothing they won't do for power over the Empire and beyond and I love it because I never felt that the characters were quite safe enough for me to relax.

Then there was the romance... In An Ember in the Ashes, there was a hint of a love triangle with Keenan, but it seemed to be squashed by the end. If you want to keep believing that, skip this book! Because Keenan is back and so is the triangle. Honestly, this is one of the things I was most confused about with A Torch Against the Night. It seemed pretty straightforward at the end of Ember! I love angst as much as the next person, but the whole tortured affair between Laia and Elias had me wanting to bang my head into a wall and then when Keenan showed up, I wanted to throw myself through the window. But I trudged on. And yes, it was worth it, but I'm still bitter about the romance.

The story, while action packed, was slow for me at times. It took me much longer to read this book than I thought it would. The beginning was exciting and so was the ending, but a lot of the middle was traveling and talking and I'll admit I was bored. There were a lot of new developments in Torch and it actually went off in a much different direction than I'd anticipated! Although I wasn't expecting it, I really ended up loving where it went! There were a couple big twists that I really didn't see coming, which is one of my favorite things in fiction! I love being taken totally by surprise and Sabaa Tahir totally shocked me on more than one occasion!

The world of A Torch Against the Night was even more impressive than that of Ember! I loved learning more about the tribes and getting to spend a decent amount of time with them. Although this book was A LOT of traveling across different terrains, the upside was reading the amazing descriptions and feeling like I was there. One forest in particular was just amazing and I'm anticipating reading a lot more about it book three! And of course there was Kauf Prison itself. As terrifying as it was, it was fascinating.

A Torch Against the Night was easily one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and I was so glad I got to read it early! I did enjoy it a lot, but I have to say this was not as perfect for me as An Ember in the Ashes. There was a lot of lag in the middle and I didn't love the love triangle, but it was still a solid second book! (I enjoyed it enough that my copy is still on pre-order.) The ending was incredible and, of course, here I am waiting for another year to find out where the story goes. If you loved An Ember in the Ashes, chances are you'll really like this one too!

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Stephanie 3 of 5 stars
This one was pretty good, but I felt it lacked the urgency and suspense that the first book had. Helene for Queen, though.