A Torch Against the Night

torch against the night

The Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)

By Sabaa Tahir

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: August 30, 2016

Bang Bang Rating: bombbombbomb 3/4


Torch picks us immediately after Elias and Laia are on the run from the Commandant and the masks to get to Kauf to rescue Laia’s brother.  Now that Elias is an enemy to the empire, it is up to Helene the Blood Shrike to find him and publicly execute him but can will she be loyal to the crown or loyal to her best friend?

The Good

  • Action Packed. From the first page, this book is non stop action. This is basically a “road trip” book and Elias and Laia have several encounters on their way to the prison.
  • Helene. Helene becomes a more developed character.  As Blood Shrike she has to get her men to respect her as a woman and she has to do the bidding of Marcus and the Commandant even when she doesn’t agree with their motives and methods.  We also meet her family and learn more about her backstory.  I really like Helene because she’s strategic and logic and honorable.
  • World Building & Mythology. I enjoy Tahir’s vast, diverse world. We are introduced to the tribe that raised Elias and alternate worlds.  There’s also some good war strategy going on.
  • New characters.  There are a couple of new characters that are interesting-Harper and the warden.  I hope they make an appearance in book 3.


The Bad

  • Laia. I do not like this girl.  I didn’t really like her in book one but I was hoping she grew a bit more since the end of book one but I don’t think that’s the problem.  She’s just not a very dynamic character.  Yes, she’s driven to find her brother and that’s admirable but that’s all she’s got going for her. Unfortunately, that’s not an original plot line and there isn’t much that makes Laia’s plight stand out.  There are moments when she’s incredibly brave but at the same time she’s flighty. I know that makes her flawed but not in a good way.  I’ll explain further in the spoiler edition below.
    • I don’t understand why every man she meets falls in love with her. What does Elias see in her? Helene is a MUCH better woman.
  • Marcus. He was terrible in the first book but he’s worse now I feel like there was no character development to make me hate him.  In book 1, the commandant was a great villain and we got some of her backstory and perhaps a reason why she was a psychopath but unless I missed Marcus’ backstory in book 1, I don’t understand why he is the way he is.  I feel like Tahir is turning him into Ramsey Bolton from Game of Thrones and if you are familiar with the series you know what I mean. If you are unfamiliar, Bolton is by far the most vile person I’ve every read/seen in a fictional story.
    • I know Marcus doesn’t have his own chapter so it’s difficult for the reader to learn more about him but something must to be done to develop him because the way it’s written, I can’t hate him if I don’t know him.
  • Info Dumping. Yes, this happened a couple of times which sucks because Tahir writes such great story lines.  I just wish she would write it so the reader can figure it out or spread it out through out the novel and not dump all the major reveal in one chapter.
  • Helene’s Family. I’ll explain in the spoiler edition.


I gave Ember a 5 so I was really bummed that I didn’t like this book more.  The unlikable heroine and the lack of a meaty story blew out the torch in this book.

Spoiler Edition


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