Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio
Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Format: Audiobook narrated by Steve West, Fiona Hardingham & Katherine McEwan
My Rating: ★★★★
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The sequel to Tahir’s bestselling An Ember in the Ashes picks up where the last installment left off: Laia and Elias, fresh from the Trials that made them both traitors, barely escape the city of Serra with their lives as a Scholar rebellion tears the city apart. Elias is sworn to help Laia rescue her brother, Darin, from the prison of Kauf, held there for his knowledge of steelmaking secrets that could bring the end of the Martial empire. But Helene Aquilla, the new emperor’s Blood Shrike and Elias’s best friend from childhood, has orders to hunt down both of the fugitives or forfeit her own family’s lives. Watching them all is the commandant of Blackcliff, ruthless in her hatred and hiding a sinister agenda of her own. The shifting network of alliances and betrayals can almost be too elaborate to follow at times, but Tahir’s skill with her characters is more than enough to hold readers’ attention. This sequel has a darker tone and even higher stakes than its predecessor, setting the stage for a thrilling conclusion.It took me a long time to listen to this one, not because it was bad by any means, just because I kept on forgetting that I had this one on audio!
This audio version was a little different than the first book since we get Helene's perspective on this one so there was a third narrator in the mix. I really liked the narrator for Helene and I think she was exactly what I thought this character would sound like. Although, I have to admit I'm not really a fan of this character. I get that it's needed to show how The Empire is terrible to even their own people, and we see how Helene trying to protect her friend really puts her in a bad position. At the same time, I just couldn't get over how nonchalant she is about having slaves and being okay with slavery being a thing in this society. I think we are supposed to be bothered by it, but it really made it hard for me to like this character. I think I'm in the minority here, because I know a lot of other readers really loved her storyline.
Laia and Elias both go on their own hero's journey both together and apart, and I really like the magic and mystic that is woven into their stories. There is more about that later in the book, and there are some big reveals, but I don't want to spoil anything. I find their relationship interesting and I always thought they were meant to be together, so imagine my surprise when Laia started hooking up with the Scholar Boy Keenan. I DID NOT trust that dude at all, and I was really suspicious about his motives the whole time.
There were some big twists in this novel that I definitely did not see coming, and it made for a really interesting read. I liked this one a lot, but there was just something that made it not worthy of a 5-star review. (I hoard those for books that I absolutely love). It was good, but I think maybe I needed something more out it, and I'm not exactly sure what that is.
I definitely am going to finish this series, and I'm pretty interested to find out what happens to these characters in the next book. Now I just have to wait patiently with everyone else.
Happy Reads Everyone!