The highly anticipated third book in Sabaa Tahir's New York Times bestselling Ember Quartet.
Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.
The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister's life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.
Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she'd have to fight.
And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias's devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.
- ISBN13 9780008288754
- Publish Date 14 June 2018 (first published 12 June 2018)
- Publish Status Out of Print
- Out of Print 9 March 2021
- Publish Country GB
- Publisher HarperCollins Publishers Inc
- Imprint HarperCollins
- Format Hardcover
- Pages 480
- Language English
- URL http://harpercollins.co.uk
Well shit. Maybe I don't love this series? D:
I stopped reading on page 62. It's not that I hate it; I just feel like this series has maybe taken a turn that doesn't particularly interest me. I really don't love Elias's whole thing with the Soul Catcher. And in general I feel like magic popped up EVERYWHERE in this book where there was none before, and everyone is just 100% on board with it and zero questions asked. Elias regularly convenes with dead spirits? Cool. Cool, cool, cool, cool. No questions there. Just blind acceptance.
In general I just preferred the vibe of the first book, which was near zero magic and a greater focus on military/empire stuff.
Maybe I will go back and try to finish this at some point… I don't know. I'm really bummed.
Omfg i’m In physical PAIN atm bc I NEED BOOK FOUR !!!!! *post-book depression ensues*
I can't even say I hated it, I was simply bored by everything going on and I felt like some of the big reveals felt like I'd figured them out quite a while back. In some points the naiveté and shortsightedness of Helene drove me mad. She is highly trained, yet acts with about as much thought as Laia.
The first book was great, the next two were disappointing.
I have a confession to make: my memory is about as horrible as the movie Sharknado, which was so bad it was good, if you get what I mean. I would probably forget what I ate for breakfast if it weren't for the fact that I eat the same thing every morning (spoiler: it's a plain bowl of cereal). In any case, because of my tendency to forget things, reading a newer series can sometimes present a problem – after finishing the first book, I have to wait for the release of the second and the third and so on. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The thing that is bad, however, is that I forget everything that happened in the other books by the time I get the newest installment in my hands. This is what happened to me with A Reaper at the Gates.
If I had taken the time to reread the first two books in this series, I probably would have enjoyed this book a lot more. But my TBR list is already a mile long, and who wants to waste precious reading time on a book you've already read? So, I jumped into A Reaper at the Gates cold turkey, not remembering a thing about what was going on in the story. This left me floundering around for the first half of the book, trying to recall certain characters or long-forgotten plot points. Eventually, I fell into the rhythm of Tahir's world and was able to more fully enjoy it. I had a hard time rating this book for that reason – the beginning was a low 3, but parts towards the end were in the high 4 range, so I just settled on somewhere in the middle.
A Reaper in the Gates is the third heart-racing, action-packed installment of Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes series which follows the unfortunate lives of Laia, Elias, and Helene (AKA - The Blood Shrike). If I'm completely honest, The Blood Shrike is the best part of this entire series. She is worth five stars in and of herself. Her chapters were definitely my favorite – I didn't care as much about the viewpoints of Laia and Elias, or about their star-crossed romance. The political intrigue surrounding the Shrike and the evil Commandant is as deliciously juicy as a fresh watermelon and eclipsed everything else. The complex military machinations had my mind whirling, trying to guess what would happen next, and it reminded me a bit of The Queen's Thief series in that way.
"You used to know me, I think. But you don't know me anymore. I don't know me anymore."
Now don't get me wrong, the Blood Shrike is not an untainted hero – she has the blood of thousands on her hands. She experiences heartbreak, death, and has to make hard choices that eventually break her, then remake her. Ultimately, that's the question A Reaper in the Gates presents: how far are the main characters willing to go to get what they want? To find the answer, Tahir expertly twists us down a dark and bloody road full of high-stakes choices and terrible consequences.
"To lead, you have to do ugly things."
This book is a preamble to the darkness that will no doubt be unleashed in the fourth and final book. It was slow going to get into it – either because I couldn't recall what was going on or because the action was growing gradually – but once I did, I was held spellbound by the action, the suspense, and the expertly-crafted world-building that unfolded beneath my fingertips. Tahir has created a grisly and unforgiving universe filled with likable, but extremely flawed, characters who are, every one of them, unrelenting fighters.
An Ember in the Ashes has long been one of my favorite series and, like everyone else, I have (im)patiently waited two years for A Reaper at the Gates. This book had a lot to live up to - there was a LONG wait and a ton of hype, definitely made worse by the tiny number of ARCs released into the world. When I finally got my hands on it, I dug in immediately, but somehow this still took me over a week to read...
Reaper picks up right after the end of Torch, with Laia and Elias still together, while living in separate worlds. I have loved their relationship since book one, and it's no different here, although there were moments when I wanted to cry over decisions made. Sadly, outside of this romance, I found myself not caring much about Laia and her journey. As Sabaa Tahir has said elsewhere, Laia visits new locations in this book and I'm honestly not what the point was.
Thankfully, Elias' point of view was fascinating! I hated the way Torch ended with Elias in his Forest, but I really enjoyed the way everything was set up during his chapters. His personal journey was hard to read, but I loved the character growth. Elias, Shaeva, and Mauth were an interesting dynamic and I felt like I got to know the true meaning of the Soul Catcher so much better, where it was much more cryptic in A Torch Against the Night. Although I would have preferred Elias and Laia to stay together through A Reaper at the Gates, I did at least enjoy his chapters.
Which brings me to Helene. I will freely admit that I completely hated her in the first two books in this series. Like, I would have cheered if Marcus had had her offed awhile back... However, I finally feel like I'm warming up to her. A little. I was nervous about reading her POV, but it was actually really informative to get her perspective on her duties as Blood Shrike and to understand the reasoning behind her actions. Still, there were SO MANY TIMES I wanted to reach into the pages and shake this woman! She's infuriating. And I get it. I understand loyalty and risks and all of that, but my god. Just kill Keris two books ago! (Keris remains Keris, by the way. I know a lot of people love to hate her, but I still just hate her.)
A Reaper at the Gates has also brought our second villain, The Nightbringer, a lot more screen time. While he was a constant looming presence earlier in the series, here he finally has a backstory and can be seen as a direct threat. This does bring me to an observation, since I can't really call it a problem. An Ember in the Ashes had a fantastic story with a setting that seemed pieced together from Roman and Middle Eastern cultures with a couple mentions of magic. By Reaper, we are in full on magic territory. This book is hugely focused on jinn and ghosts and other various fae, which is absolutely NOT where I thought this series was going after book one. I don't hate it, it just seems like a strange, gradual shift.
While I didn't dislike this book, a huge chunk of the middle of it feels like filler. To be honest, it seems that most of Laia's part of Reaper could have been left out. Her actions don't really feel like they accomplish much at all. She does a lot of running and escaping, only to see no real payoff. There is a lot of talking to random people who, like I said, I'm sure will be important in book four, but seems pointless here. And, while there are plenty of new characters, old ones are completely wasted - Darin is barely mentioned. There is one big twist, though, that was perfect in every way and caught me completely by surprise!
Overall, I did enjoy A Reaper at the Gates and am happy with the way it ended up. I do feel like there's a quite a bit of filler that could have been left out and I did hope to see more of certain characters, but these aren't big enough problems to affect my love for this amazing series! If you loved the first two books, you will also enjoy this one. Here's hoping book four isn't two years away!
If you’re iffy about picking up or continuing on with this series, please do it. I promise you will not regret your choice.
P.S. - I know he’s the “villain”, but I absolutely love the Nightbringer.