A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister’s life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. Yet danger lurks on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor’s volatility to grow her own power—regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path. Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows that the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. During the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help 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. However, in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender—even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.
A Reaper at The Gates definitely reaps at the soul. No one is having an easy time in this book. Elias is caught by the consequences of the last book’s ending. He is moving between two worlds, the waiting place, and the real world. The waiting place refuses to let him go. It is quickly clear that the promises he made to Laia will be broken, whether he wants to or not. Elias is becoming the Soul Catcher.
Helene Aquilla is Blood Shrike and she is facing a torturous life. The emperor is not kind to her sister. Marcus tortures Helene’s sister to make sure she does what he asks. The Commandant is not giving her a break. The empire is at war, and everyone is looking to Helene for a way forward. Helene endures some hard choices in A Reaper at the Gates.
Laia is now with the resistance. Her brother is safe, even though Darrin is not whole, at least he is with her. She wants to find a way to defeat the Nightbringer, but he is not easy to fight. His cause is just, even while it is cruel. Laia is on a path that will make her the leader of the resistance, of her people.
The Commandant becomes a formidable villain, with the Nightbringer’s help. As for Marcus, he is an emperor who has no idea how to hold on to his empire.
I’m glad I read A Reaper at the Gates while I had the next book waiting. Otherwise, I would be in frustrationville. It is a book preparing for the end of the story. Each character faces the worst that could happen in any scenario. I thought Helene had the worst luck. She gives too much as the Blood Shrike and Marcus does not deserve her loyalty. Elias is plain unfortunate. He gave so much until it cost him the one thing he was trying to hold on to, his freedom. I was very sad at the end of this book.