At YALC, there were a few books which I really, really wanted to get my hands on. I hadn’t even realised that there were Torch proofs available until I saw a girl holding one, near the end of the first day. I went investigating, and was told that giveaways would be announced on twitter.
So with a subscription to HarperVoyager’s Twitter account set up, on the Saturday, I was ready to nab my copy of A Torch Against The Night.
Part of the reason why I wanted this so much was because I had thoroughly enjoyed An Ember in the Ashes – it’s definitely in my top 10 books this year, so I was excited as all get out for the sequel.
When the announcement was made that proofs would be given out within the next hour, a small crowd began to build around the HarperVoyager stand. It wasn’t long before the publicists behind the desk were feeling a bit pressured to hand out the proofs, lest they be overwhelmed by rabid Sabaa Tahir fans.
Luckily, things at YALC are very civilised, and Penguin on the next stand were giving out ice cream to promote The One Memory of Flora Banks, so it wasn’t long before I had my proof, some ice cream, and the chance to sit down and get stuck into a return to the Empire.
A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.
In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.
Torch picks up exactly where Ember left off, so there’s no delay and no trying to figure out what’s happened in the interim. Where Torch followed Elias and Laia, Ember adds in an extra perspective by giving us Helene as a third point-of-view character.
I loved this book. It had lots of great things in it – a diverse cast of characters, romance, adventure, magic, treachery, betrayal, divided loyalties, incredibly tough moral decisions, and more. I spent most of the book with my heart in my mouth, wondering how Helene would act, how she would react, what choices she would make.
In the first book, Laia was definitely my favourite, but Helene may just have eclipsed her to become my new favourite. She struggled with so many things in this book but came through it all with grace and skill and at the end of the book is still totally bad-ass.
Torch is a really great sequel to Ember. It expands on the world built in the first book, develops new characters and relationships between those and the existing ones we’ve seen beforehand. It delves into the mythology and magic of the world, as well as introducing us to more tribes and telling us a little more about Elias’s past and Helene’s family. It expands on so much that wasn’t in the first book, all the while tearing us along on a breathless, tense mission to break Darin out of the most high-security prison in the Empire while on the run as the most-wanted person in the world.
I did really enjoy this book, and it was a 5* read for me, but it’s clearly the middle of a larger series. Everything has been established beforehand, and while there is one overarching plot which is resolved, it’s clearly gearing up for a bigger confrontation in the future. Ember was originally commissioned as a standalone, and Goodreads now lists three books in the series, but I’ve also heard rumblings that there’ll be a fourth book.
If you went into this book expecting it to wrap up all the trailing plot threads, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But if you go in knowing that it’s the middle of a trilogy (at least), then I think you’ll find it an immensely satisfying read, with its own distinct plot development which goes toward setting up for what will hopefully be an explosive third installment next year!