A Torch Against the Night

A Torch Against the Night

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...

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Title:A Torch Against the Night
Author:Sabaa Tahir
Rating:
Edition Language:English

A Torch Against the Night Reviews

  • Renée Ahdied

    magnificent.

    TORCH simply burns, in all the best ways. it's everything you've come to love and expect from the brilliance of Sabaa Tahir, except BETTER. twisty, turny awesomeness abounds on every single page. and you will not want to keep turning them until the tale is over.

    the wonderful thing about A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT is that--though it never shies away from depicting cold brutality--the nuances of emotion are just as deeply felt. just as passionately rendered. you will yell at your favori

    magnificent.

    TORCH simply burns, in all the best ways. it's everything you've come to love and expect from the brilliance of Sabaa Tahir, except BETTER. twisty, turny awesomeness abounds on every single page. and you will not want to keep turning them until the tale is over.

    the wonderful thing about A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT is that--though it never shies away from depicting cold brutality--the nuances of emotion are just as deeply felt. just as passionately rendered. you will yell at your favorite characters, laugh with their loved ones, and perhaps even shed a tear or two for a villain.

    this book is even better than EMBER. and THAT'S saying something.

  • Hailey (HaileyinBookland)

    I'm really liking where this series is going!

  • Emily May

    Last year, I read and enjoyed an advance copy of an unknown book from a debut author -

    . I sped through it, loved it, rated it five stars, and thought that was the end of that. On to the next one. Like most books I rate and review, I expected it to be forgotten in a sea of YA. But

    Last year, I read and enjoyed an advance copy of an unknown book from a debut author -

    . I sped through it, loved it, rated it five stars, and thought that was the end of that. On to the next one. Like most books I rate and review, I expected it to be forgotten in a sea of YA. But suddenly, out of nowhere, it was a bestseller! And that's when I got some unprecedented backlash for my review.

    And I was like:

    *voice getting smaller*

    *even smaller*

    But, you know what?

    . I loved this book and the first one. I know they’re not something out of this world and I know the story is not that original, but I don’t care. Because, for me, it’s not what a book is about, but

    . And I think both

    and

    are told with

    and

    . I hung on the author’s every word.

    I honestly don't give a shit anymore if these books are

    (what even is that, anyway?). I race through them. My heart pounds. The pages just fly by in my desperation to find out what happens. They're nasty and brutal, full of evil surprises and even more evil things that you see coming but can't stop.

    picks up right where we left off and, if you enjoyed the first one, it's very easy to be pulled back into the rhythm of the story and world without recapping. I wondered if I would be able to easily follow the stories of Laia, Elias and Helene after more than a year away from them, but I needn't have worried. I felt the rush of everything coming back to me as I was once again immersed in this world.

    Often, sequels wander aimlessly, but this one was

    . It didn't feel like it was bridging a gap - the story moves along, many important and awful things happen, secrets are revealed and Tahir rounds off this installment well, whilst still promising so much more from the next book. I can't freaking wait.

    I love all three narrators, but Helene is worth five stars alone. Out of all of them, she has been through the worst kind of hell and has had to make the most difficult decisions. I love her internal conflicts over what she wants to do and what she should do. She's sharp and smart, just cool enough to be badass, whilst also painfully, relatably human.

    Seriously, I just have nothing bad to say about this book. I think, if I tried, I could feasibly come up with an original-ish idea for a fantasy that has not been done before. However, I think to take a somewhat familiar story and inject it with new life so that it becomes virtually unputdownable is a much more commendable achievement. Bravo, Ms Tahir, bravo.

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  • Christine Riccio

    You jump right into things in Torch and I loved it! Here's my full booktalk

  • Regan

    omg

  • Andreea Pop

    is the very glorious sequel I had expected from Sabaa Tahir. But what distinguishes itself from its prequel is the

    of it. The breath of Death on our characters' necks. The villain(s) that are evil incarnate. The idea of a prescribed destiny. The new abilities and powers. The demons, the stories, the souls -- everything combines with a well-built plot, an expanded universe and realistic, flawe

    is the very glorious sequel I had expected from Sabaa Tahir. But what distinguishes itself from its prequel is the

    of it. The breath of Death on our characters' necks. The villain(s) that are evil incarnate. The idea of a prescribed destiny. The new abilities and powers. The demons, the stories, the souls -- everything combines with a well-built plot, an expanded universe and realistic, flawed portrayals of characters in order to deliver the best kind of chills.

    From the very first page, we're thrust back into Tahir's fictional world quite violently. Starting exactly where Ember ended, we're reminded of the stakes, the world and the unnatural. Plus Elias and Laia's slow burn, sizzling chemistry.

    I had initially rated this book with 5 stars, but I ended up changing it because no matter how much I loved how it all unfolded, I had to admit there was something irking me: the inconsistency of the pace. The plot unravels with several ramifications that, at first glance, only deter from the main storyline. Or at least the one I deemed main in my head. Raider's Roost. Nur. The Waiting Place. All the back and forth between Antium and the countryside. But they did enrich a captivating world, so I partly appreciated it. However, I still found myself wishing more exciting things happened. And I can guarantee that's what is probably going to happen in the third novel, because wheels have been finally been put into motion.

    Regardless, there is a sort of redundancy in both Elias and Helene's POVs as they both battle their own demons. Which is the only flaw of this book, in my opinion.

    If you had any inkling of love for Elias in the first book, then prepare yourself for full-on worship and adoration. This sequel painted him in true hero colors, highlighting his altruism, his devotion, his intensity and, most of all, his fairness. There was a particular character development that broke my heart which I hope somehow will be reversed by the end of the series because from the beginning I had the image of Elias and Laia as Emperor and Empress stuck on my retina, with Helene as Blood Shrike. I also need to mention his amazing dynamic with his adoptive family which was a wonder to see. SO BEAUTIFUL.

    This time around, Laia makes a lot of mistakes. Disastrous one after disastrous one. But I liked that instead of drowning in guilt, she turned a critical eye against her actions and learned from them. Betrayals change her. New allies shape her. And love strengthens her.

    Helene Aquilla, however, was incredible. I didn't think it was possible to love her more than I did in Ember, but I was so wrong. She grows a lot in this installment, through emotional hardships that plague her at every step. Her whole journey is a turning point, the stepping stone for her maturity. The question of duty vs. heart remains deeply rooted into her persona and heartbreak shapes her anew in an astounding, almost terrifying image. I cannot wait to see how this colder, broken, hollowed Helene is going to enact her revenge and show the world her wrath. After all, the title of this book is an omen to the fire in Helene Aquilla.

    The matter of the 'love-square' as I like to call it is entirely resolved by the end of the novel. At least I think so. Or just let's go ahead and call it a pseudo-love-triangle because even though the focus is on an almost-pair that has my heart bursting with joy, the possibility of old flames coming to life yet again is not wholly crushed because feelings of mutual love still reside in a back corner, even though they are one of deep friendship. But the romance situation resolves messily and I was displeased (or better yet, uncertain) of how the story developed on a couple of occasions.

    By far, the most compelling aspects of this continuation are the villains. The Commandant manages to upgrade her bitch title to the one of ultimate bitch. I swear, I haven't read such a beautifully written bad character in a long time, one that thrives on power and bloodshed, on gore and brutality and perennial violence. It was fascinating and utterly horrifying to witness how easily she can make a whole nation crumble.

    The Warden is a new bad guy but immensely intriguing in his sadistic ways. The Nightbringer establishes himself as a layered, complex character that is not as straightforward as one might think. Honestly, I do not know what to further expect from him because his involvement in this book is jaw-dropping.

    Another one of the most intriguing characters of the whole book is Marcus. I loved his cunningness and his... cleverness, I suppose, even if he's not one of the good guys. It was one of those instances where you can just clap to the performance, but be glad he's just fictional.

    Other things worth mentioning: the Aquilla family;

    (omg you're gonna love him and I hope he plays a bigger part in the following books);

    Izzzzzzyyyyyy; COOK; Shaeva (oh, sweetie); Afya, the most badass and honorable Zaldara ever;

    The wait until 2018 will be a torturous one, because

    moved all the right pieces to make my heart crack and crave more destruction. Thrilling, captivating and intelligently written, this sequel cemented the status of this series as a 'MUST-READ' so I urge you to read it the first chance you've got.

  • karen

    i didn't love this as much as

    , but it's a seriously fun book regardless. the problem is that the first one was

    strong, it's a tough act to follow. this one is certainly not lacking in action or worldbuilding or interesting character

    i didn't love this as much as

    , but it's a seriously fun book regardless. the problem is that the first one was

    strong, it's a tough act to follow. this one is certainly not lacking in action or worldbuilding or interesting characters - there's plenty for them to do, and the stakes are sky-high, but it just didn't seem as well-constructed as

    . there's a rushed quality to the plotting here - many instances where it comes across like a breathless, "we need to do this oh now we are doing it, good!" which is great for the book's pacing - this is a fast, fast read - but it feels like too much was glossed-over and sacrificed to that pacing.

    but whatever - it's a minor quibble that irritated me when i was reading it, but when i think back on all the stuff that happened in this book, my irritation is totally squashed by my much stronger feelings of having read something fun and dark and fierce.

    all the great characters are back - laia, elias, the commandant, marcus, keenan, and helene. heleeeeeeene. who is here given all the space she needs to be the powerful, complicated, thoughtful, badass, pragmatic creature we got glimpses of in the first book. here, in her new role as blood shrike - the sword that does the ruthless emperor's will, she really shines.

    speaking of shining - the scene revealing the origin of this book's name?? CHILLS!

    helene is my new favorite character in all things.

    as far as the other characters go - tahir does a great job clipping elias' wings a bit here. it's almost unfair to have a character who is unmatched in fighting prowess - it takes the elements of danger and tension away from any action scenes. but she came up with a really great, fair way to level the playing field in order to increase the peril of our characters, and the things that change for elias over the course of the book (no spoilers here!) are both dramatically interesting and textually appropriate. not what i would have guessed, but very satisfying.

    and laia - i dunno, she's not my favorite heroine of all time. there's a lot i respect about her character, but i like my heroines to have a little more of an edge to them, and laia's just a bit too squeaky for me, and her very formal avoidance of contractions grates on me a bit. don't get me wrong, i feel for her when bad things happen, and that closing scene was affecting, but what can i say - i'm team helene and i'm a one-woman gal.

    all the magical bits from

    - the parts that i was so frustrated about not getting explanations for when i learned it was conceived as a standalone, are fully defined here, and they add an extra layer of intrigue to what was already a pretty kickass world.

    it's a rough ride - there's a lot of blood, a lot of horrific casualties of revolution and ambition, a lot of sacrifice for the good of the empire:

    it's all wonderful, horrific, consequence-bleeding stuff. and there had better be a third book coming, because i want some vengeance - righteous, splattery vengeance.

    gimmie.

    *****************************************

    oh, YAY! i was deemed cool enough to snag an arc of this after all! and while i was not in the top-tier of cool kids who got the accompanying power bracelet:

    if you have a glue gun, a toilet paper roll and some glitter, that's easy enough to remedy. behold!

    who's cool NOW? oh, still not me? oh well, at least i SPARKLE!

    *****************************************

    thanks to no one for giving me a heads-up that this

    will be existing. now it's nearly too late to buy party tooters.

  • Dana Kenedy (Dana and the Books)

    This review can also be found

    .

    from the past few years so it's only natural that I counted down the days to the sequel. In fact, I found out my local book shop had it stocked a couple days before the UK release date, so I frantically ran over and recruited the bookseller to help me find it. Poor guy must have thought I was insane - I don't think I even brushed my hair I was so desperate to get my hands on it. Well,

    This review can also be found

    .

    from the past few years so it's only natural that I counted down the days to the sequel. In fact, I found out my local book shop had it stocked a couple days before the UK release date, so I frantically ran over and recruited the bookseller to help me find it. Poor guy must have thought I was insane - I don't think I even brushed my hair I was so desperate to get my hands on it. Well, that wonderful man found the ONLY copy they received and IT WAS MINE.

    For some reason I cannot possibly fathom, the UK edition doesn't include a map.

    WHY?!

    was lovely and sent me bunch of photos of her map-abundant Canadian edition and I am forever in her debt.

    I was so eager to continue Elias and Laia's journey I started reading straight away. Surprisingly, the first 100 or so pages didn't excite me the way

    did. I started to get a bit worried. Would this sequel pale in comparison to such a strong debut?

    BUT, after I passed the 150 page mark and got over the map snubbing I got that same thrill I did when reading

    .

    We got some pretty awesome fight scenes and great character development.

    And then...

    AND THEN we got the mother of all MOTHER FUCKING PLOT TWISTS.

    Okay, it probably wasn't as shocking as I'm making it out to be but I never pick up on hints or foreshadowing so I was legitimately shocked.

    My actual face:

    While I think

    is the stronger novel overall,

    was still a fantastic follow up. I can't wait until the third one (2018?!?!).

    Sabaa Tahir, I bow down to you and your wonderfulness.

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  • Lola

    This is Helene’s book.

    Well not quite, but she plays such a grander role than she did in the first book. In fact, she annoyed me to no end in the latter, but in this sequel we learn more about her and are shown different facets of her personality.

    The fact that her family is in danger is not a positive thing, but somehow it made Helene look more humane to my eyes. She isn’t the rigid, rule-abider soldier I saw her as before being witness to her softer, vulnerable side anymore.

    There’s much running

    This is Helene’s book.

    Well not quite, but she plays such a grander role than she did in the first book. In fact, she annoyed me to no end in the latter, but in this sequel we learn more about her and are shown different facets of her personality.

    The fact that her family is in danger is not a positive thing, but somehow it made Helene look more humane to my eyes. She isn’t the rigid, rule-abider soldier I saw her as before being witness to her softer, vulnerable side anymore.

    There’s much running around in this. It’s no wonder we see Laia and Elias running for their lives on the cover. It’s a lot of moving around, falling into traps and then getting out of them. Elias and Laia want to free Darin from prison, so most of the story centers on them trying to reach the prison.

    But then there’s Helene who is assigned to capture Elias alive. You may think, lucky her, she finally has the status she most likely dreamed of all her life and hundreds of soldiers ready to follow her anywhere, but it’s not so easy. She does, after all, as we know, love Elias. Or not?

    Sabaa Tahir writes so, so well. If any other author had written this book, chances are I would have given up on it after the first couple of chapters, because it’s very, very slow and filled with dialog that could easily have been cut or exchanged for some action scenes. But because Sabaa Tahir wrote this, I had no choice but to finish it.

    This series is not one that doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s not silly or unfathomable. The way Sabaa Tahir writes makes everything seem probable, like these characters could truly be alive in an alternative, magical universe. At first, I was befuddled by the inclusion of magical abilities, because it’s not as if the world-building needs them, but they sure come in handy and I’m eager to see how they will develop within the characters.

    I sure do wish it were faster paced, but otherwise, A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT is flawlessly-written and extremely intricate.

    PS. Was anyone else reminded of the video game ‘‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’’ featuring the unique Lara Croft when they read this?

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