Fantasy · Review · Young Adult

Book Review: A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes, #3)

I’ll just say this… I am trash for this series. Sabaa Tahir continues to make each book even more complex than the last, and A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes, #3) was no exception.

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid 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. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

The Good

  • Helene!! – I will admit that I really didn’t like Helene as a character for the entire first book and most of the second. She just didn’t really interest me, nor pulled me into really rooting for her. Howeverrrrrrrrr, I finally felt that attachment to her in this book. I mean, WOW! She has finally become a fully fleshed out character for me and I love that we get to really see all of the depth to her. Her chapters were definitely the highlight for me in Reaper. There was non-stop tension in every single one of them, culminating in an epic battle that has brewing for the entire series. Also, I really want a warhammer now. Which is weird, because I’ve always thought of myself as a bow person. *shrugs*
  • DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA – If you thought there was a lot going on in the second book, then just wait and see what’s in store for you in this one. Because holy moly, things are happening all over the dang place. AND I AM HERE FOR IT. Tahir is just slowly killing me with everything that’s going on and my heart really cannot take it. Helene is dealing with some shit, Laia is dealing with some shit, and Elias has basically become THE shit (no lie!). I have whiplash from everything going on every other page. “You get a plot twist! You get a plot twist! We all get a plot twist!”
  • WE FINALLY GET AN EPIC BATTLE SCENE! – Pretty sure this one is self-explanatory.
  • Expanding World – We finally get to see some other places in this world, which I really appreciate. I’m just glad we’re finally out of the desert and haven’t had to go back yet… I hate deserts, in books and real life. GIMME TREES!
  • More Plot, More Action – I definitely felt like this book covered more actual plot action and political intrigue than the previous two books. It’s definitely easier to fly through, as things are constantly happening. If you felt like the first two books were more character drive, then be aware that this book changes that up. You definitely get a feel for how high the stakes are for our characters, with none of them ever feeling truly safe.

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The Bad

  • Poor Elias… – I kind of feel like Elias has been pushed a little to the side in this book. Yes, he’s still a main POV, but his storyline seems rushed and not as put together as the other two. His story has taken a very interesting turn and I just wish more attention was paid to the details of it. I think there are still lots of holes in what his new duties are and the background of it all, not to mention how it affects the overall story. It seems there is still room to develop his story more and I hope that that becomes a main factor in the final book.

This series has everything that I look for in my fantasy novels – political intrigue, fantastical worlds, characters full of moral ambiguity and depth, and the ability to build tension throughout the entire story. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, I highly recommend it. You won’t be disappointed!

Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars


Have you read A Reaper at the Gates yet? If so, what did you think of it? Do you feel any of the characters have become more/less interesting? How do you feel about Elias’ POV in this book?

9 thoughts on “Book Review: A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes, #3)

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