Beyond the Martial Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.
Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister's life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. Yet danger lurks on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor's volatility to grow her own power—regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path.
Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows that the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. During the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help 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. However, in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender—even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.
About the book
A Reaper at the Gates is the third volume in the series that began with An Ember in the Ashes and continued with A Torch Against the Night. In this third and penultimate book we find a world at war, with a crazy emperor and with a Commandant even crazier than him.
To hold the reins of the empire is Helene, now a Blood Shrike, right arm of Emperor Markus, who tries in every way to stop the Commandant’s intrigues as well as the invasion of barbarians from all sides. The order to find and kill Elias has been forgotten and she is now facing an even more powerful enemy.
Meanwhile Elias gets lost in the role of Souls Catcher and will his love for Laia be his undoing? And Laia? Will she be able to understand where her powers come from and help the Resistance against the empire?
Elias and Laia are running for their lives. 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.
About the book
A Torch Against the Night is the second volume in the series entitled An Ember in the Ashes. It begins where the first book ended with the escape of Laia and Elias from Blackcliff. The two will find themselves hunted by enemies as they try to reach Kauf’s prison to free Laia’s brother. On the way they will meet friends and enemies who will help them in their adventure.
The story is developed through different points of view and the most interesting in my opinion is Elias’. But Helene’s is also not bad.
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.
About the book
An Ember in the Ashes is the first book in Sabaa Tahir’s quadrilogy with the same title. We are in a fantasy world where the Empire conquered and subdued the Scholars, people who were once very educated, but who are now forbidden from learning to read. Among these is our protagonist Laia (whom I called Laila until the middle of the book…) who lives with her grandparents and her older brother. One night she discovers her brother coming home late and asks for explanations. In fact, she discovered one of his drawings on which weapons of a place forbidden to him are represented. Shortly after, a Mask, soldiers of the empire with their faces covered, enters the house and kills the grandparents and arrest the brother. Laia manages to escape also thanks to the mask that tells her to run away.
Laia knows about the Resistance, a group of rebels who oppose the regime and search for them to help her free her brother because it is their fault if her brother has been found. And from here begins her adventure in the academy of Blackcliff where masks are trained. In fact, the leader of the rebels, after discovering that she is the daughter of their old leaders, decides to help her, but first she has to go on a mission to spy on the Commandant.
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