Fantasy, High Fantasy
An Ember in the Ashes, Book # 4
December 1st 2020
February 24, 2021 March 2, 2021
Beat the Backlist, Finishing The Series, Library Love, The Backlist Reader, Virtual Mount TBR
Picking up just a few months after A Reaper at the Gates left off...
The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.
At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.
Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory--or to an unimaginable doom.
And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life--and love--he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save--or destroy--all that he knows.
About the book
A Sky Beyond the Storm is the fourth and last book in the series that began with An Amber in the Ashes, continued with A Torch Against the Night and then with A Reaper at the Gates. It’s been six months since we last saw our protagonists. Laia and Hellen have managed to take refuge in Hellen’s hometown with her sister, the Empress Regent and her nephew, the Emperor, Zacharian. Keris has proclaimed herself empress and the kingdom is at war. The jinn are now free and are reaping terror and death among humans.
Meanwhile Laia is increasingly determined to destroy the Nightbringer and has a plan that could lead to the solution of all evils or could make things worse.
And Elias is lost in his role as Charon, but something is also changing in his land. Something that even the jinn allied with the Nightbringer don’t know.
What I think
In general, I liked the whole series. This fourth book was a bit boring and long. I didn’t want to “skim” like in the previous book, but I couldn’t wait for it to end. I didn’t find that fantastic story that changed my life such as Rebel or Snow Like Ashes (of course, they didn’t change my life either … but you get the gist) also because two realities are mixed. The one from the Roman Empire that I obviously like and the Arab one that I like too. The world has a Roman division, with Latin terms often used incorrectly, but jinns exist. Honestly, if it had only been focused on one of the two worlds I would have liked it more. Despite this, the series is not bad.
One thing I don’t think is done right is magic. It has no fixed structure, it is used only as a tool to move the story forward and it is not defined. In my opinion this is the consequence of mixing two worlds because the Roman world had no magic, but the Arab one did and therefore instead of inventing a new magical structure she took inspiration from the Arab one, but it didn’t make much sense. For example, why can Laia use invisibility and her brother can’t? If it were only for Rehmat, once what happened happened she should no longer have magic, but instead to keep the tale going the magic stays in Laia and is used in such an anomalous way.
I still don’t like Laia. She becomes unbearable here and above all she has no chill, she doesn’t know what to do, or rather she knows what she should do and then she doesn’t do it. For example, she has a mission, but then she sees a prisoner and frees him so that she doesn’t complete her mission and that prisoner is killed anyway… I know it’s told this way to highlight the inner struggle, but it doesn’t happen just once and her plans are really laughable so much that I don’t consider her the heroine so acclaimed by her people.
I liked Elias a little more and frankly, I also liked his initial indifference to Laia and Helene. Maybe he is the only one who has the determination to do what he has to do thanks to the fact that he has forgotten everyone. However, and maybe someone doesn’t like this as a cliché, I would have preferred that he would come to his senses and recognise Laia by himself, not because Cain gave him his memories that not even Mauth can erase. I like this cliché when done right, the fact that someone remembers the woman they love only for the fact that their love is stronger than any curse (yes I like Disney) but the fact that he remembers Laia only because someone implants those memories makes it a little shoddy.
Helene is the character I like the most. Although at first I saw her infatuation with Elias as a bit ridiculous, luckily she quickly moved in the second book and I was able to appreciate her more in the following books. The only thing I find absurd is “forgetting what one did to the other” just to give birth to a romantic story. And yes I’m talking about Harper and Helene. It almost seems like Helene has forgotten that Harper tortured her in a previous book. On the other hand, the fact that Helene tortured Mame Rila is not forgiven until the end.
These are also the three points of view that are in the book as well as a few chapters from Nightbringer’s point of view. Only in one chapter we have Keris’ point of view and it is a pity that there is only one.
Keris, even thoush she is the empress, isn’t seen a lot compared to the previous books and I’m sorry about that. Also because, some things do not make sense and are not explained. Like for example she finally tells Elias something that makes us understand that she doesn’t want him to die, which is absurd since she poisoned him in a previous book. Why doesn’t she want him to die? She doesn’t say it but it’s just a fact. Then not all the characters are worthy of being forgiven. And Keris is one of them, but in the end she is redeemed, which, again, is absurd.
One thing I have to say though, actually two. Men who are told to stay away and like fools in the middle of the battle scream the name of the woman who told them to stay away… But how much idiot do they have to be? The book seems very feminist to me, see the two female protagonists, but this does not mean that you have to show men who are fools.
And the second is Laia’s mother. I won’t say why but her use was obvious.
The more I write this review the more I understand that I have given too many stars (but what’s happening? This is the second time!) But I won’t change the rating even if 4 stars for this book are too many especially because I have also given 4 to the first one which is much better.
However, I must say that although I did not like it 100%, I would recommend the series. It is a good pastime, even too much given the bulk of the last book and not everything is strictly negative. If only the author had left out a few things it would have been much better.