Review | There Are So Many Game of Thrones Vibes In A Torch Against The Night

Check out Read By Dev’s book review of Torch Against The Night, Sabaa Tahir’s best-selling sequel to An Ember In The Ashes.

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By: Sabaa Tahir

Overall Rating: ★★★★

The book is narrated by Elias, Laia and now Helene. They are dealing with the aftermath of the Trials – where Elias gave up being Emperor, Laia saved Elias’s life, and Helene swore fealty to evil Emperor Marcus. Elias’s mom, the Commandant, is still evil and crazy AF. Laia’s brother is still in prison (who knows if he’s dead or alive), and the world is still going to hell. There are dead spirits roaming around, an evil god-like creature roaming around trying to get revenge, and of course the scheming for power. So, naturally, everyone splits up to do their own thing.

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TL;DR:

If I’m being honest, Helene’s chapters were boring AF but for some reason I can’t resist her character arc – she’s amazing in her own way. 75% of this book also felt like I was watching season six of Game of Thrones. Everyone gets separated, they are all traveling/trying to make it the epic battle, and I had to wait most of the book for the crazy sh*t to go down. BUT, the wait was worth it. If you’re looking for a milder version of Game of Thrones, please read this series!

The Good

The Lore

There’s enough faerie, magic, and mythology to go around in this series. Tahir takes well-known folklore and spins a unique, refreshing world that I didn’t know I needed.

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The Villains

I love when there is evil lurking in every corner of a story. Every main character is dealing with their own personal hell brought on by a different bad guy. Evil king? You got it. Evil mother? Yup, it’s there. Evil mystical/god-like creature. For sure! If there’s a way to keep me interested, it’s when I can’t figure out who the biggest threat is.

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The Cliffhangers

That last page will have you like…that’s all I’m saying. The ending is the best part of book 2. You’ll want to start book 3 immediately!

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The Bad

Helene, You Bore Me

I could have done without Helene as a narrator. Her loyalty is so engrained into her – mind, body and soul – and I CAN. NOT. HANDLE. IT. At one point I thought about skimming through her chapters just to get back to Elias. She’s not a bad character, she’s just…different. I love her, but I also hate her. She’s the frenemy you hope gets better (spoiler: she does…finally).

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The Number One Rule IS DO NOT SPLIT UP

Why does everyone insist on splitting up to save the world? Everyone knows you STICK TOGETHER. Once Elias, Laia, and Helene are on their own, the story gets a lot slower. I wish there were more instances where the MCs were a group and there was more action, but I totally understand why it was necessary…I just wish it wasn’t.

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The Ugly Truth

I loved A Torch Against The Night, but it wasn’t as good as An Ember In The Ashes. With that being said, it still holds its own and the set up is necessary for that crazy ending. It’s a solid sequel, and I wanted to start book 3 as soon as I could!

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?

Review | An Ember In The Ashes Is Fantasy Gold

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By: Sabaa Tahir

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother, Darrin. Darrin gets arrested for treason. After Laia runs away like a wimp, she decides to be strong like her mother and do whatever it takes to free her brother. ENTER: The rebels who promise to help her, but only if she helps them (*dun, dun, dun*).

She infiltrates an elite school for soldiers, posing as a slave, where she  meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier. They both endured some pretty horrific things, leading to the pair teaming up becoming unlikely allies. CUE: THIS IS WHEN THINGS GET CRAZY.

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TL;DR:

An Ember In The Ashes is Gladiator x Hunger Games with just enough mythical creatures to make this the fantasy series of my dreams. The characters are complex, sometimes annoying, but always interesting.  You won’t be able to put this book down. I highly recommend!

The Good

The Story

I’m so here for the no-happy-ending-for-you theme of this book. I was also really intrigued by the prophecies, the impending doom coming from all sides (literally I had no idea who was really the “bad guy” the entire time), and the history of the world. Throw in some soldier-on-soldier fight to the deaths, crazy magical priests (who remind me of Silent Brothers from Shadowhunters) and FAERIES and I’m 100% in. If you don’t like bloodshed or scenes that will hurt you in the heart, you might want to skip this.

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The Characters

Darrin had me from page one. Elias was love at first sight. Laia was annoying AF. Helene was…complicated. What do they all have in common? They are complex, intriguing, and all had me screaming in irritation, scoffing in anger, or rolling my eyes in disbelief. The journeys these characters go through are so good. They aren’t perfect, and I love them just the way they are…yes, even you Laia.

Elias Veturius Gets His Own Section

ELIAS, SOLDIER BOY OF MY HEART. Yes, he gets his own section. He’s now officially my one f*ckboy I allow on my book boyfriend list (Sorry Tiberius Calore, you’ve been dumped). He’s groomed to kill and follow directions, but can’t seem to get past his adorable, caring, sweet cinnamon roll heart. Yeah, he may get distracted by Laia’s curves or Helene’s hair, and literally every other pretty girl who walks his way…but he gets stuff done. And I love him.

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The Bad

I Have So Many Questions

Book one leaves you with A LOT of unresolved plot points. You learn a lot on this journey, but all the important bits don’t start filling in until the end. And even then, you’ll want to immediately start the sequel because you’ll be left wondering what’s happening to literally everyone. Couldn’t I get at least one major thing resolved? No…okay. I’ll just go binge the rest of the series now.

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The Ugly Truth

I can’t believe I didn’t start this series sooner! I loved almost everything about An Ember In The Ashes. It had morally grey characters, hot soldier boys, magic, battle scenes, and I can’t wait for more. (Literally I couldn’t wait. I binged the second and third book before even writing this.)

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Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Are you adding this to your TBR?

Review | Why Is The Winner’s Trilogy So Hyped?

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By: Marie Rutoski

Overall Rating: ★★★

Kestrel is the daughter of the Valorian Military General. Arin is a Herrani slave turned rebel. Their paths cross, they struggle with their feelings for each other, and they obviously hate that they’re both Slytherins who want to live in a better world. Without going into spoiler territory you’ll run into: A d-bag Emperor who wants to rule the world, lots of moody, spoiled white aristocrats, and some weirdly specific bug-related metaphors.

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TL;DR:

I did not enjoy this series as much as I wanted to. Kestrel and Arin had sooooo much potential as characters and as love interests, but they fell short. The story was a jumbled mess full of miscommunication, lies and deception – which usually I find really appealing in stories. If you’re into insta-love or simplistic YA novels, you might want to give these a try, but overall I’d say stay away if you have other TBR options.

The Good

*It was really hard for me to not just put “NOTHING” in this section. But, being as unbiased as I can…here it goes. I may end up ranting at some point. Who knows.

(Some of) The Supporting Characters

You know you’re in for a bad time when you fall in love with the unimportant secondary cast, but here I am, telling you that the main characters suck and you will live for all the supporting characters (except for Jess. She can go die in a ditch). They have personality, swagger, and stick to their motives and goals, unlike some characters, which I will get to shortly. I loved  Prince Verex and I wish he was in more of the story. I also lived for Eastern Prince’s sass and wit. But that’s not saying much since not many of the other characters have an ounce of personality. Even the Emperor, regardless of how evil and cruel he is, was a more developed character than Arin or Kestrel.

The Battles

The war and battle scenes were the only thing keeping me going while reading these books. No joke, it was a struggle to get through 300 pages and if there weren’t a handful of good fighting scenes I would not have survived. If there’s one thing this series got right, it’s the war and the battle strategy.

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The Bad

The Main Characters

KESTREL WAS MY GIRL. I had SO much hope for her as a heroine. She started off as the Slytherpuff I never knew I needed. She was cunning and smart and tried to use her talents to help those around her…but then she had to go and ruin it. She doesn’t grow or develop through the entire series. Instead, she slowly regresses into someone you would have met on page one, book one – second-guessing herself, and not trusting her instincts. Not to mention that really unnecessary memory-loss moment she has, which only works if you’re Peeta Mellark and have a cute game you can play to remember what is real and what isn’t.

…And then there’s Arin. Talk about a tall, dark and handsome Slytherin who’s perfect on paper but sucks IRL. He’s set on freeing his land and his people from the Valorians and his inner monologue tells us he thinks he’s clever enough to see truth from lies. BUT, he proves again and again and again that he CLEARLY DOESN’T KNOW WHAT A LIE IS. He’s kind, he sings, he can fight, and he’s beautiful. But there is no depth to Arin or his motives and he is a bit of a wet noodle.

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The Love Story

Okay, so let’s start of with the disclaimer that this starts off as insta-love but then takes a turn into weird, angry “I don’t know if I want you” love. It’s frustrating and annoying and not at all something I enjoyed. Book One, Kestrel and Arin hate each other. They spend like 5 afternoons together and then all of a sudden they’re in love. Don’t forget that at this point, Arin is still a slave, owned by Kestrel, and he’s planning to overthrow her father and taking over the city…so like WTF ARE YOU THINKING ARIN? This just ping pongs out of control in books two and three, with Kestrel and Arin both denying then not denying their feelings. It’s eye-roll worthy. Then there are some weird romance vibes going on between the Eastern Prince and Arin. Then some weird romance vibes between Arin and the Eastern Queen. Apparently, everyone has the hots for Arin, but Kestrel is the only one who lies to herself about it. It was like a really bad car crash that you can’t look away from.

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The Ugly Truth

I wouldn’t recommend this series unless you are really patient with your main characters and have some free time you’re willing to throw around. There isn’t much depth to the story or the characters, but you may like the warring bits like I did.

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Have you read this series? If so, what did you think of it? Will you be adding this to your TBR?