Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 3 stars Series: yes - final book of quartet
*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for AN EMBER IN THE ASHES, A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT, and A REAPER AT THE GATES*
The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.
At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.
Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory–or to an unimaginable doom.
And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life–and love–he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save–or destroy–all that he knows.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
This is one of those books that doesn’t pull its punches with the ending and everything the characters have to do to get to the end and “win” (aka, not everyone miraculously survives) but also was really slow and tough to get through to that ending.
I re-read the whole series ahead of this, wondering why I couldn’t remember any of it, and my new review of the third book stands pretty well for the start of this. (I haven’t altered my blog review of B3 as it must have been true at the time, but not for me now.)
Helene is the only character with an interesting, plot-filled storyline. Elias mopes about a forest and Laia? Goodness knows what she was doing the whole time that had any impact on the overall story
Helene is the character I like in this series, because she’s the one who feels like she’s getting the most done – moving the plot forward with clear goals. By contrast, Elias and Laia feel like they’re drifting about, moping about not being together, until they can team up with Helene for the ending. Even though Elias and Laia have the goal of “stop the baddie,” it doesn’t ever feel like they’re making process, and what does happen feels like random chance that they stumbled onto a set piece where they could learn something important. This made the first 400 pages quite a slog to get through, as I just wanted more Helene. But to get to her chapters, I had to wade through Elias and Laia’s first.
Because of liking Helene far more than the other two, I was quite nervous about getting to the ending. She is slightly less important to the series overall than the other two, as she was introduced as a POV in B2. Thus, logic dictates that she was probably going to suffer the most in the book, and maybe even die (given Sabaa Tahir has no compunctions about being really mean to characters.)
There is a high cost in this book, which is very in keeping with the world and story. And that cost is spread around. The ending does do well at reflecting the cost of the war, and also not let the Helene and Elias to get away with ignoring what they and the system they benefit from has done. It’s a good ending, and perfect for the series, it’s just it wasn’t engaging me before that.
Read my reviews of other books by Sabaa Tahir:
The Ember Quartet (this series):