A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
In 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 is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.
But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.
Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.
I read A Torch Against the Night in one afternoon. It continues from where An Ember in the Ashes ended. Elias and Laia are on the run from the masks and need to get out of the city. Elias is determined to get Laia out and help her save her brother from prison. Laia needs Elias’s considerable skills to stay alive, and escape a city locked down by masks who are determined to capture Elias.
Helene Aquilla has become the Blood Shrike. She answers to the new brutal emperor Marcus and he has a terrible mission for her. Track down her friend Elias and bring him back to the city for a public execution.
A Torch Against the Night is an action-packed read. Laia is stronger this round, more decisive which is grand to see. She supports Elias as they race to save Laia’s brother. Helen remains a character caught in a terrible nightmare. She must hunt for Elias, even though it means killing him. Her quest is designed to break her and Marcus knows it. There was no moment of softness for Helene, the Blood Shrike.
Elias, my favorite character, chooses a tough road in this book. His only wish has been to live a quiet life, one of peace. But, he has only lived by the sword and been trained to be the best warrior. His willingness to sacrifice himself is both admirable and something to be sad about at every step. By the end, he has reached a point of no return and makes a choice that will change his and Laia’s lives forever.
The fight against the chains of slavery forged by the martial forces is underlying, growing by each chapter. I loved meeting Elias’s adoptive mother most. She is a skilled Kehanni (storyteller) and her tale helps Elias and Laia escape a tight spot. Her words spark a revolt and I thought that was such a powerful scene. As with Book One, there are terrible losses in Book Two. I was happy and sad as I read the last chapter of A Torch Against the Night. I cannot wait to get A Reaper at the Gates to discover the consequences of Elias’s decision.