December 18, 2019 by TinyNavajo
A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ◊
*Published August 30, 2016*
The second book in the An Ember in the Ashes series, we pick up right where we left off with Elias and Laia on the run from Elias’s crazy mother and the Empire she seeks to rule.
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.
While this book does pick up right where the last one does, what this book does that I think is really well done is the time skips. There will be times when you’ll finish a chapter and in the next, they will have gone forward about 4 weeks or 6 weeks in time. Granted, during that time, there wasn’t going to be a lot happening, just more traveling or planning, or trying to figure out how to get from one place to another. But you still felt the progression of the story was correct, that it made sense that there was a time skip.
Sabaa Tahir also did excellent on juggling the different points of view in this one, as we had more this time than just Elias and Laia. We also now have Helene, Elias’s friend and now hunter. And even with the added point of view, it doesn’t feel as though we have lost any character development. We still Elias and how much he wants to finally be free of the Empire and all that it means to him; we see Laia start to grow and stand up for herself in her own right, not letting others tell her what to do. And we see Helene and what it means for her to now have to hunt down her best friend and his possible lover. We see and feel all of this, and none of it feels as though it’s dragging the story down. It lifts up the story and gives it a real weight to it.
One of the best parts of this as well is that the romance in this series and in this book in particular, does not overwhelm the story. It feels real, especially for teenagers who now have a lot more to worry about in their lives than if they get to go to prom or not. I loved learning more about Elias, Laia, and Helene. I loved being in their heads and knowing what they know and empathizing with what they feel. Sabaa Tahir has truly done a masterful job in this and her next books will hopefully keep this up.
What do you think of time skips in a book? Do they work, or do they not? Comment below and let me know!