Author: Sabaa Tahir
Publication Date: 21st May 2018
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
The Ember Quartet is a series that I have loved, and we have book clubbed all of the books, I was so excited to get this one lined up for June and then there were postal holdups and the book arrived really late. By the time I could look at it I probably should have picked up something else but there was no way I was moving on without reading this one. I thought I would get through it quickly but in all the chaos of July book lists my reading time suffered and it took a little longer. I am so glad I made the choice to pick it up because it was well worth it, an absolute rollercoaster ride of betrayal, battle and backstabbing.
This is the third book in the series and it picks up where A Torch Against the Night finished, at least from what I remember it does. The one thing I miss about my younger days when it comes to reading series is that I no longer have the time to re-read before I pick up a new book in a series to re-familiarise myself with the story.
I have followed the series from the beginning but I think that it could still be an enjoyable read for those who are only meeting our characters now.
A Reaper at the Gates is told in alternating chapters from the perspective of the Blood Shrike, Elias and Laia as they each follow their own path on the bigger journey to save the Empire. The three characters were closely entwined as the series started but as the series unfolds their personal paths diverge.
The Blood Shrike is second to an increasingly unstable Emperor with a Commandant out to grasp power for herself. She is under pressure from every direction to do what she can for the Empire, keep on top of what is going on in every quarter and still try to keep her sister, the Empress, safe. She is harbouring secrets that she would prefer weren’t made public but as I reflect at the end of my reading I wonder if those secrets aren’t a piece of a larger puzzle that won’t come into focus until the very end.
Elias Veturius has taken a vow to become the Soul Catcher, to give up his humanity and turn his back on everyone he knows to perform his duties and help the ghosts pass through The Waiting Place. He needs to be able to meld with the magic to successfully fulfil his duties but he must put his duties first, he must turn his back on those he loved and his people to see the bigger picture.
Laia of Serra only wants to help her people, the Scholars, she is the daughter of a famed resistance leader which drags her further into the trials facing the Empire than she ever dreamed possible. She has lost almost everything that was dear to her and risked it all to break her brother out of an infamous prison and she will still travel to the ends of the Empire to try and find a way to bring down the biggest threat to the Empire.
These three characters started the series the centre of a love triangle, and are now so far removed from one another it’s hard to picture them inhabiting the same space. The further their journeys take them from each other the more I am left questioning whether there are underlying ties that will either bring them back together or at least entwine their fates when the sun sets on this epic fantasy quartet.
The Empire is under attack from within and without, no-one is truly aware of the depth of the threat and there is one common denominator pulling all the strings. Even watching from the outside I’m not quite sure what his end game is but I can’t wait to see it unfold. The Nightbringer is a canny puppet-master working towards his own ends, and they don’t line up with what Laia and the Blood Shrike are trying to do yet at times he is there to help them out. It’s all very suspicious and completely enthralling. Once I sunk myself into these pages I didn’t want to pull myself out, my only regret is now it’s finished and I don’t know how long I have to wait until the final chapter.
A Reaper at the Gates was captivating reading. The action was non-stop and the bloodshed was almost constant, I hate to think what the body count ended up at. This is a series I would definitely recommend to lovers of strong female leads, epic fantasy and a good story. I will be keeping an eye on Sabaa Tahir and her career after the quartet is done.