A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT is an excellent sequel to an amazing debut book, which surprises us at every turn and keeps us wanting more.
I had read A Torch Against the Night a couple of months ago. I read through the book in a few days because I was so excited to read it. However, as I did so, I found that my excitement to read about Elias Veturius and Laia of Serra was greater than my desire to truly take in what was happening.
Because of that, I don’t think I could’ve given a fair review of the book at the time. I had found myself unsure of the story, confused about the pacing, and maybe even a little disappointed by it all.
Luckily, I had a feeling that I was being unfair in my assessment. In my excitement of reading it, I realized that I had probably read the book too hastily, not fully comprehending the words and actions of the characters. So I decided to go through it again with a more relaxed pace.
When I did, when I decided to really try to understand what was happening with the characters and put myself in their shoes, or just understand what they were going through, I found the book had a more fulfilling and very complex story to tell.
In book two of the Ember in the Ashes series, we still get the perspectives of Elias and Laia. Under the careful storytelling by Sabaa Tahir, she has been spot on in giving us the appropriate perspective for each scene. The addition of Helene Aquilla’s perspective has been essential for her placement in the story, both physically and emotionally. For that reason, her inclusion created more insight to the “big picture” of this tale.
The pacing of the book starts off pretty fast, and pretty much immediately where we left off from the end book one, where we see Elias and Laia escape the city of Serra through the tunnels. Because it starts off so fast, this tends to make readers want to read fast as well, but don’t get too ahead of you. There are details that trickle in along the way, especially when Elias and Laia encounter other characters on their journey.
With Helene as Blood Shrike now, a position she attained in book one, her main goal is to capture Elias and Laia by the orders of Marcus, the new Emperor of the Martial Empire. Helene knows that doing so would bring about the death of her best friend and love, Elias. But she still values the Empire and wants to honor her family as well as their position in it.
Because of this, Helene is constantly at odds with herself. It certainly doesn’t help that she not only has to capture Elias and Laia, but also has to protect herself against the threat within the political agendas of those in the Empire, including the Commandant and Elias’ mother, Keris Veturius.
The addition of having Helene as a third perspective is a significant addition to the story, as not only does it give us an idea of what’s going on in Serra, under Marcus’ reign, but it also gives us a better understanding of this character. For those that already found Helene a favorite, they’ll have reason to favor her even more in Torch.
Elias and Laia’s part in the story is not any less great than it was in the first. But the obstacles that the two face will challenge them both physically and emotionally. Although the attraction between the two is there, the obstacles they attempt to overcome are massively challenging, and keep the relationship between the two at a near standstill. One of those obstacles includes one fiery-haired young man (yes, I do mean Keenan.)
The few other familiar characters are also re-introduced into the story, and one of them is more pertinent to one of our protagonists than you first thought. Not only that, but the new characters reveal some very significant details that change-up the outcome and/or plans of our beloveds. Not everyone is as they seem, and when you find out the truth, you just might “I can’t” your way through the New Year.
I will say that you’ll love at least one of the new characters and you’ll want to love another one, but you won’t know why until near the end. You’ll get to see one character from the first book that you won’t expect to see. Family relations play an important role for all three perspectives as well, and you probably won’t be prepared.
More of the fantasy scenarios from the first book come into play, as Elias and Laia have to deal with the otherworldly forces that will affect their lives in ways that you won’t see coming, but make the story more complex than it was in the first book.
As for the villains of the story, they are still out there, and you’ll dislike them just as much as before, or more so.
What I found after going through it a second time is that Sabaa Tahir has created such a world that three books definitely won’t do it justice. Thus the reason for this being a four-book story arc, one that I’m not absolutely sure all our protagonists will make it out of, whether physically or psychologically.
Overall, this is a very satisfying sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, and brings some new challenges and unexpected detours to the main characters. No character is really wasted in the story and the revelations of some of them really move the story along nicely.
This fantasy adventure is ripe with a unique tale for readers to continue on with. But I still warn you to try not to speed your way through the book, especially if you think it’s too long. There’s just so much to try to grasp that sometimes it can take your brain a night to ponder on it before you move forward. But even if you do speed-read your way through, re-reading the book is certainly not a bad idea.
A Torch Against the Night arrives in stores August 30, 2016. You can order the book on Amazon.