This is the second book of Tahir’s series, An Ember in the Ashes. I read and reviewed the first one here. I loved it and looked forward to this sequel. It did not disappoint. If you haven’t read the first book, stop here.
Here’s the back cover:
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.
In this book, Helene becomes a point of view character, her chapters read by Katharine McEwan. Given her position in the government, she introduces the wide view of the world that the story takes place in and allows the reader to keep tabs on what’s happening inside the empire. Meanwhile, Elias and Laia show us more of the world that Tahir built. I love the mysticism and the supernatural creatures in these stories.
As before, the world building is magnificent and now it has simply expanded to include new elements. The three point of view characters progress nicely along with many of the secondary characters. Tahir has mastered the ability to make it clear that every character has their own ambitions that interact with the path of the main characters without making it all about them. That’s part of what makes it brilliant to read. Everyone had their own interests and they happened to clash, but not everyone is after the same thing. The writing is beautiful and the plot moves at a great pace.
This is one of those YA series that has a broad appeal to more than just the YA age group. I can’t wait for the next installment to come out! I got my copy from the library, but it’s available for purchase on Amazon and the Book Depository.