*WILL MOST LIKELY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST TWO BOOKS IN THE AN EMBER IN THE ASHES SERIES*
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.
I don’t really know where to start. This book was amazing, of course, as I knew it would be. It wasn’t 100% perfect, but is that even possible?
I’ll just get the negative out of the way first: I was a little confused at times. It’s been a thing throughout the series; the magic system isn’t exactly explained in simple terms, but I don’t mind it too much. With Reaper, I had a bit of a struggle remembering what happened in A Torch Against the Night (and there was a ton that happened in that one), so a lot of the confusion was me not remembering. I would have liked a little more summary of the previous book (summarizing previous books in a series usually bothers me, but for a series with release dates so far apart, I think it’s a little bit necessary); I think it would have generally just been helpful even to just have a synopsis of the first two books like some series have done. Of course, I could have just reread A Torch Against the Night, but it still just makes a lot more sense to put a little summary in there because not everyone likes to reread.
I was super surprised by this installment. I will say I wasn’t quite as emotionally destroyed as I expected (which I guess is a good thing), but I absolutely loved it.
What surprised me the most was that Helene’s point of view chapters were my favorite. I remember not liking her parts as much previously, but this time around I almost wanted to skip ahead to keep reading her side of the story. I’ve been wanting all the political intrigue lately and I definitely got it here. It was very well done.
I didn’t particularly like Helene before this book, but now I absolutely love her as a character. She’s extremely interesting and complex and just so completely human. I also really loved seeing her interactions with her sister. The whole Livia-Marcus-Helene ordeal, while being horrible, is well done and plays in well with the grand scheme of things.
Laia was…not my favorite? Like I love her, but she just kinda got pushed to the wayside a little, I think. I didn’t like reading her chapters as much in this book and just generally felt less important. I know that she is very crucial to the story but it just didn’t quite feel that way.
Elias is my child. I always, always have that one character that I just feel super protective of and he is the one in this series. So…It was his part of this book that
kinda tore me apart. No spoilers but it’s really bad.
That’s all I’m going to say about him.
Avitas Harper is honestly one of my favorite characters. I just can’t help but love him; he’s got the sassy, sarcastic, Carswell Thorne vibe and I kinda really love it.
I still hate Keris Veturia and I doubt that will ever change.
Characters are so important to me and Sabaa did a great job again. Like I said, Laia wasn’t as good as she has been, but everyone else was amazing.
I can’t say much about the plot without spoilers, but it was full of all the political intrigue and power-hungry people and just general wartime things that all make up an amazing story.
The romance has definitely sorted itself out since book one. Book one’s romance was a little all over the place but it ended up redeeming itself. We also get another couple in Reaper and I’m shipping it very, very hard.
I’m rating this 4 stars. It was a solid third installment, certainly, but I did have some issues.
I definitely recommend this series if you’re a fan of fantasy (I will warn you that it’s very brutal) and political intrigue.
Have you read A Reaper at the Gates? What did you think?