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Thursday, 10 November 2016
Review: A Torch Against The Night
A Torch Against The Night
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher!
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.
I fear that rather than a review, this is going to be more like a reaction! When I read An Ember in the Ashes, I completely loved it and after the ending I've been eagerly awaiting the sequel. I knew going in that it was going to be full of shocking and heartbreaking moments, because I watched everyones reactions as they read. But I wasn't quite prepared for everything that was going to happen. I had tears in my eyes at one point when I was reading, and I felt a burning hatred for Marcus. Seriously.
A Torch Against The Night starts where Ember left off, and it's a tense couple of chapters. I love Sabaa's writing, she has such a way with words and a brilliant storytelling style. She makes you want to keep reading, she paints an image with her words so you're sucked in to the world of the book, she makes you feel all the feels, she weaves a complex plot with plenty of threads, she creates an atmosphere that you can feel. You can feel the tension, fear, danger, suspense, and it puts you one edge too so you're turning pages as fast as you can. You could feel the time ticking down for Elias and Darin and it had you nervous. Sabaa gives you a true experience as you read. I'm still eager to learn more of the history of the world of the book, and while we got to see more of the extensive world that Sabaa has crafted in this book, I still want to see more of it!
I loved the way the supernatural combined with non magical elements in this book, much like the first, I was surprised again and again by plot twists, and I read this in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. I had to keep reading. As we venture out of the military academy the Roman Empire vibes lessen a bit, but the Commandants single handed genocide of a race of people definitely reminds me of WW2, not to mention the current problems the world is facing regarding race. Like I said the plot has a lot going on, you have Laia and Elias on their way to Kauf to free Darin, you have Elias dealing with his situation, Laia dealing with hers, and then you have Helene struggling to make the right decision, wanting to protect her family but also her friend and then the political games going on with Marcus and the Commandant. Not to mention the Nightbringer, oh yeah. We get to learn a lot about the Commandants little buddy. Eye opening indeed. Let's just say there's a lot of political chaos and infighting and sneakiness and backstabbing and lying. For a start.
This book we get Laia and Elias's POV, obviously, but we also get Helene's and I was so curious to get a better look at her character and her motivations after seeing her in the first book. She intrigued me in book one and I felt for her because of her feelings for Elias and watching him with Laia and so on. And then there was the magic. And then there was the Blood Shrike situation. So I'm glad we got to get a deeper look at Helene. I loved the plot switches because one would end on a cliffhanger and you'd do some Luke Skywalker style "NOOOOO" and then get engrossed in the next POV and then it would do the same and you'd be like "NOOOOOO" again and so on. Cycle repeats! It really keeps you reading!
Character wise there's a lot of character growth from the last book. In the first book a few people didn't like Laia and thought she was weak, but I admired her determination and her drive. She kept pushing herself despite her fears and we see that again this book. Laia is more gung-ho, she gets involved, she learns to shoot, she tries to help Elias in fights, she goes in to a dangerous situation. Laia has an interesting development on the magic front, and I loved watching her change more and more over the course of the book until you have a Laia so very different from the one of Ember. She genuinely comes up with a crazy plan and executes it without hesitation. I was so damn proud and I'm so excited to see the kind of girl she'll be at the end of the series! I love how Sabaa keeps developing her characters over each book!
Elias, I loved in the first book. He was so complex and interesting to me and I loved watching him with Laia. In this book we get some revelations about him and his past and his parentage and I am so damn curious about it! I loved how he was determined to help Laia and keep his promise, I loved how he was trying to protect her. I loved how he didn't break during one situation and kept on fighting and pushing through. I'm intrigued to see what's going to happen to him next now after the developments of this book, and I'm hoping there's a way around it because my ship! But more on my ship later! Also, he thinks one thing about himself this book and distances himself from everyone, and like he eventually comes round which made me all kinds of happy but so many times I was like nooooo Elias! Noooo!
Helene. I need to mention Helene! I wasn't too sure of her in the first book she was so obsessed with Elias and I get it, it was awful for her to have feelings for her close friend and see him with Laia and so on. I do get it. But I felt like I didn't get to know her as much. I didn't realise how much she had going on and how much she had to lose until the end so like I said, I was excited to not only see more of her but to actually get her POV in this book! I felt for her. I really did. We got to see her family situation (Her sister is a total cow by the way) and Helene put me in a difficult position. I was rooting for Elias and Laia, because I loved the two of them. But at the same time...I was rooting for Helene because she was trying to protect her family and she was in an impossible situation in this book and it wasn't going to end well either way. I'm so intrigued by her gift and how it works and I was hoping to see more of it this book but maybe next time. Helene will make your heart break at the end of the book and I'm fully rooting for her to get some vengeance! She changes a lot over the course of the book and I'm intrigued to see what she becomes in the next book.
As well as our main characters we got to see some of our supporting characters from the first book, Cook (I'm so suspicious about her and who she is), Izzi, Keenan, Afya, who I loved seeing and getting to know. I loved her helping Laia and her surprise appearance! We also get some new characters to know and love, Mamie Rila we get to meet properly, and I have to say once I realised what she was up to I was like 'EFF YES SHE IS'! Um, anyway, we also get Tas, who Elias befriends and helps keep going as it where. I can't think of the word I want! He kinda helps him believe in himself, I think I mean! ALSO Gibran, Afya's brother, I loved him and I was so heartbroken for him! OH OH OH and we get Avitas Harper and I ship him with Helene SO DAMN BAD YOU GUYS! I wasn't too sure of him in the beginning, I wanted to like him but he was so mysterious and he was working for the Commandant. He provides us with plenty of surprises it has to be said and Im' looking forward to more of him in the next book!
Our villains are back as well, and man do I hate them. I feel some intense burning hatred for Marcus the psycho, voice hearing...Emperor guy. I hate Marcus. I hate the Commandant. We get to meet the Warden, and I hate him. All three of them are complete effing nutters. There is no other word for them. They are fully cray cray. I suspect there's more to the Commandant after the first book and what's revealed about Elias's parentage. I want to believe she isn't pure evil but she's making it really damn hard and after this book I just hate her. Marcus I don't think I'll ever like, like sure the poor guy had to kill you know who, but after what he does in this book I will never be able to like him or feel for him in any way. There are some truly heartbreaking moments in this book and all I'm going to say is I'm super stoked for the painful demise of Marcus and the Commandant, which will hopefully be in the near future.
My ship. I need to talk about my ship. I was Team Elias from Ember. I loved the two of them together, they where adorable. I retract my statement in my Ember review, you know, when I said sorry to Keenan for ignoring his existence because I shipped Elias and Laia so much. I panicked once or twice about my ship reading this, and I definitely was screaming no at Laia at multiple points during scenes with her and Keenan, especially when she trusted him. I ship Elias and Laia so hard and I was so gutted they weren't together as much in this book, because Elias supports her and encourages her and Keenan who she's left with does not. He's also borderline dodgy, or at least I thought so and then yeah. Being right is so painful sometimes.
A Torch Against The Night has been one of my most anticipated sequels, and it was so easy to devour it in one sitting. We get to see more of the world, more of Sabaa's writing, more character development, meet new characters that bring the story more to life. Sabaa's characters continue to be complex and continue to make you feel for them. ATATN makes you feel plenty of emotions thanks to the impossible situations the characters find themselves in, the heartbreaking moments, the shocking moments and the moments that make you scream 'no' and cry. We get revelations about Elias and Laia and their pasts, and then there's the ending. There are some potentially game changing things in this book, especially at the end and the ending broke my heart completely. The wait for book three is going to be so damn painful, possibly more painful than the actual book, based on this one. Seriously. I kept thinking "Sabaa wouldn't really do that. Okay...okay so she is but she'll only do this one. Okay....she's going to stop it now...no. Okay but she seriously won't do THAT" but she did. She did the thing. I'm simultaneously excited for the third book and terrified for further heartbreak!
Ships will sail. Ships will be ghostblocked/forestblocked. Hearts will be broken. AND YOU WILL STILL WANT MORE NO MATTER HOW MUCH THE BOOK HURTS YOU!