Conflicted Hearts in A Torch Against the Night

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

5/5 STARS

Genre: Young Adult, Epic Fantasy
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Published: August 2016
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Pages: 454 {paperback}

Originally posted on Goodreads

This review is spoiler-free until I state otherwise


Initial Thoughts Upon Finishing

That was amazing. What a sequel! I’m very tempted to put this on my favourites list but something in me hesitates – I think book three is going be a whole new level of awesome, if that’s possible. I loved seeing where the characters went in this book and lordy lordy was there a killer plot twist. This series is such an amazing fantasy world and oooh boy, I can’t wait to see the movie – let’s hope they don’t stuff it up. Excuse me whilst I go and buy myself an Elias inspired candle – I need me some of that spicy rain. Tahir is a writing goddess and I cannot wait for the release of book three!

Me trying to magic book 3 into existence

A Torch Against the Night

This series has so far been uniquely incredible. If you haven’t read An Ember in the Ashes yet then I can only say that you’re missing out. It is fast-paced, packed with amazing characters, and everyone smells wonderful . . . wait, no scratch that last point (they do though). It certainly is a testing book for making your feels bleed and has you fearing for everyone’s families’ lives. Sheesh. I am in love with this world, the horrible structuring of people into different groups and the terrible prejudices against these people. The character are completely real and the Commandant will forever give me nightmares. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all of the cast in book one but book two was like a game of wizard chess with all these people we’ve come to love and hate. I love how tricky the augurs are and I really enjoy the believability of these tensions in a fantasy world. In short, this is pretty darn fantastic.

The first book went immediately onto my favourites list — but I must admit that the sequel does feel like (a very good) filler. Lots of things do happen in it, but I wasn’t blown away quite to the same degree. But that’s where my criticism stops. This book is like eating plain chocolate after having caramel chocolate: it might not be the same but dang, you’re going to eat until you’re sick.

“Failure doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.”

If you haven’t read book one then leave now — SPOILERS

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Love . . . Hexagons?

We leave off from a very interesting place at the end of book one. There’s something totally between Laia and Elias — but there is also something between Elias and Helene. And there might be something between Keenan and Laia? We’re very undecided on all fronts. It’s definitely a mess. Truth be told, I’m still undecided about almost all of this after this book. I think I know where I stand, and I’m fairly certain of which ships are sailing (and which new ones have been introduced) but my mind is a few days behind going, wait, hang on, did he? Are they? Where’s the chocolate.

If you’ve read book one (and you have, because otherwise you would’ve stopped reading when I told you) then you need to continue on with the story. I’m so excited for where things are going in the third book and this is as awesome dessert pizza.

But now, if you haven’t read THIS book then LEAVE – BEGONE TO THE NETHER WORLD. Or, just skip to the summary, your choice.

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There was certainly a lot of focus on relationships in this book. It was a great part of the plot. I loved how we really got to explore Elias’ character — and that he stuck with Laia and his promise to help her find and free Darin. And good lord was I surprised in the end that he was actually alive. I was most frustrated with Hel’s character. She flip flopped (rightly so) between wanting to stick up for Elias and being loyal to the Empire. I am confused as to why she is so invested in the Empire and I was very surprised that she didn’t run away to meet Elias. I honestly thought that was what she would do. I was as confused as she was about what the world wanted of her but I did think she was an idiot for hunting Elias down, I expected better of her. I’m heartbroken a little for her about her feelings for Elias but good god I hope they don’t become a proper ship. I cannot for the life of me see that working.

I was very surprised on multiple levels regarding Keenan and Laia, but we will discuss that in a bit. I wanted Izzi to stick around so bad because I think she could’ve made such an amazing addition to the story but NOPE. Thanks Tahir. I’m still hurting.

And finally, I am shipping Harper and Hel so bad right now. Seriously, I did not believe for a wink that he was bad the whole book. From the moment in her interrogation when he’s all like, mate, I don’t really want to kill you, I was like, THEY’RE GETTING MARRIED AT THE END OF THIS. Matchmaker Kirstie, right here.

So really, I have no idea what’s going on other that I’d like Elias to get over himself (and not actually die) and sweep Laia away; I’d like Izzi to come back from the dead and probably marry Gibran (am I right?); I’d like Harper to woo Hel; and I’d like Keenan to die a slow and painful death.


But Mostly, Elias

Yes, we must take a moment (or, knowing me, a very long paragraph(s)) to talk about this man. But just before I start on my lengthy rant about how much I love him, I must melt into a puddle of unf first.

Ahem. I love Elias so much. Bless his little cottons socks, he’s such a conflicted character and it just breaks my heart. Ever since the trials his level of self-doubt and depression has sky rocketed in a way that has NASA impressed. He needs a hug. Really badly. This book is definitely an interesting one for focussing on his growth as a character. I was glad that, out of everyone, his character remained true. I was just sad that the action all went to Keenan and not him. I could slap Laia for doing that. Oh, don’t worry about poor old Elias being tortured in jail, let’s have sex with the one who is CLEARLY (okay not that clearly) the bad guy. Sheeshkebabs.

Mostly, I just need a candle that smells like spice and rain and I’m really impressed with his fighting skills. Gets me every time. Please lord, let the movie be awesome and let Elias be secretly real (I must steal him).

I won’t bring up the hole dying thing. OH WAIT. I did. I thought that was a very crafty plot thingo indeed. Well done Tahir. The fact that we all know that Elias is going to die one way or the other throughout the entire book is depressing. On top of the fact that we cry with him every time he struggles to deal with the fact that he’s killed so many people, we’re also trying to smack him through the pages because he keeps pushing people away because he’s going to die. NEWS FLASH HONEY, we all are.


The Waiting Place

So to quickly interrupt myself here and make this an even longer review than you thought it would be (sorry) . . . (I’m not really) let’s just nod towards the Waiting Place thing and go WOW, HOW COOL. I really liked this. I liked how it spliced up the story and distracted up with terrifying thoughts of oh noes, my poor baby is going to get stuck in the actual netherworld. But we’re sitting here thinking, naaah, Laia with her magical knowledge of healing (but not actual magical healing, that’s Hel) will surely come up with a cure.

AND THEN HE GOES AND BLOODY OFFERS HIS SOUL. Or whatever. Ugh. Stupid man. Never let emotional boys make decisions, people. If YA books are anything to go by, it doesn’t matter if it’s deciding how to take a splinter out, they go – NO! Take me instead! Let me carve out my heart! Well, some of them do. Don’t give me that look.

Back to the topic. I thought it was cool. I really liked Shaeva. I liked how it acted as a sort of mediator to sort Elias out. BUT I did not like that he disappears into it just when he’s about to escape with Darin and Tas (bless). The stress. THE STRESS WAS REAL. But all good, Elias has now offered up his soul. Worry not. I’m sure everything will be fine.


Those Plot Twists, Though

Keenan & Nightbringer

I did not see this coming. Not in a month of Sundays would I have guessed this. Whilst my previous statements might be contradictory, I did not think that Keenan was actually evil. I thought he was terribly jealous but my warning bells didn’t properly go off because he seemed nice. And then Elias puts two and two together with that bear and honey and tea thing and I went, nooooo very dramatically. I might have also sworn, except I’m a lady and I don’t swear. (I know, bullshit).

The story behind Laia’s armlet was really cool and I’m glad it was actually important. It was mentioned nearly as much as Elias smelling like spice and rain. Maybe Elias’ scent is very important too. Who knows. Either way, ARHFKGHAF.

Harper & Elias

Holy mothballs, this was a clever twist. I didn’t see this one coming either. I did feel like it was slightly underrated revelation in the book, though. LIKE, HELLO. Elias has a brother, *sirens sound*, Elias has a damn brother. Somebody fetch me a fan for I am swooning. Adorable times two, here we come.

Laia’s power

This was really cool (everything in this book was really cool). It frustrated me ever so slightly with how long it took her to realise she could turn invisible, sheesh. But then I was glad because Keenan/Nightbringer/Bitch therefore didn’t have proper confirmation that she had these powers. I’m very intrigued to see where this goes.


Summary

Overall, this is a magnificent book and obviously you need to read it. If you read the whole of my review then here’s a medal because dang that was long. If you haven’t read either book then HOW MANY TIMES DO I NEED TO SAY IT. Go buy a copy already. If you’ve just read book one then read the previous sentence. I loved this, I love Tahir, I need book three, and now I shall be buying myself a spicy rain scented candle. Goodday to you.

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You might also like . . .

If you like fantasy series surrounded by political turmoil and delicious characters, The Wrath and the Dawn is for you.

If you like characters who have epic skills with and without weapons (and maybe even some special powers), Grave Mercy is for you.

If you like fantasy worlds stuffed full of kingdoms trying to kill each other, Falling Kingdoms is for you.


Have you read A Torch Against the Night? What did you think?

Share your thoughts below!


End Note

~~ Kirstie ~~

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8 thoughts on “Conflicted Hearts in A Torch Against the Night

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