Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Book Review: A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3) by Sabaa Tahir

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

Published: June 12, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Hardcover Pages: 464

Synopsis: Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister's life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid 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. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias's devotion--even at the cost of his humanity.

Thoughts: First and foremost, I absolutely loved An Ember in the Ashes, so much so that it was one of my top books of 2015. That said, I didn't love the sequel, A Torch Against the Night, nearly as much. Now this isn't the first time this has happened. In fact, I can think of two other times off the top of my head that I had the same experience - the Red Rising series, and the Legend series. I loved the first books in those series so very much, but they all did the same thing in the sequels - completely changed the dynamic of the story.

Obviously stories evolve and change, but when a first book is so set in a certain place or setting, and the sequels turn the story into something completely different, I'm finding I don't enjoy them as much. I think it often has to do with there being more war and such, which I'm just not very into, personally. It's tough because often these stories are about oppressed people rising up, and inevitably there will be war, it's just not as interesting to me.

But I digress! What do I think of this book? I liked it better than Torch, but not as much as Ember. Part of it has to do with what I said above - there is war and politics, but not all between the characters I really connected with in the previous books. Elias changes dramatically here, and not in a way that makes you care more about him. In fact, it distances not only the characters, but also the audience from him.

On the other hand, Helene aka the Blood Shrike, becomes a much more prominent character, and that I actually did appreciate and enjoy as she is another complex character. I also went into it thinking this was going to be the last book for some reason, only now to realize there will be one more, so things are left unresolved, but with our different lead characters coming together and moving apart in different ways. It will be interesting to see where things go in the final book. Will another character come to the forefront, or will it stick to these three? I'm looking forward to it, because I do want to see how thing wrap up -- I'm sure Ms. Tahir has some interesting twists and turns ahead!

Rating: 4/5

What I'm Reading Next: Lethal White (Cormoran Strike #4) by Robert Galbraith

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