A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes)

BySabaa Tahir

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
abbas bozkurt
I’m really sad about writing this review because An Ember in the Ashes is one of my favorite books of all time. I HOUND everyone I know until they read it. Elias and Laia from Ember are two of my favorite characters in all of fiction. I’ve reread Ember and A Torch Against the Night *so* many times in eager anticipation of Reaper at the Gates releasing.

Reading friends, I DNFed Reaper at the Gates.

My favorite characters. My favorite series. My most anticipated book of 2018.

I DNFed it and I won’t continue the series.

The connection I felt to the characters was gone. It started in Torch, if I’m being honest. This whole thread with Elias and the waiting place … it’s a book killer. I’m sure it’ll have some huge significance at some point, but some point won’t ever come for me because I DO NOT CARE about his story line any longer. My favorite guy in fiction … for me to lose all concern for him. Yeah. It’s not good. And Laia? Same. I shrug and roll my eyes over her in every scene anymore. That’s when I knew it was time to put the book down and walk away.

It’s really sad because these characters – this story – had the potential to be world changing fiction. But it has turned into an exhausting read of pain after pain after torture after failure with zero hope, zero breaks for the reader to mentally/emotionally recoup, zero chances to connect with the characters – zero reason to CARE. All whiplash and violence for the sake of salacious attention more so than actual movement of plot. The characters are not moving the plot by their choices – instead the plot moves by things happening to them. They are purely reactionary at this point – which is weak writing/plotting. Sabaa is SO much better than this.

I’ll happily pick up whatever series the author starts after this one and give it a chance because I love her and her writing. But I’m done with this series and I won’t be recommending it any longer.

(I purchased the audiobook on Audible)
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
I am annoyed. First of all, why isn't this a trilogy? Announced as one, published as one and behold book 3 arrives only to find out it will have a book 4. Second of all, the voices of all three main characters were not clear. I had to actually look at the title to find out if it was Helena or Elias or Laia, the characters became caricatures of themselves. And then there is the third fact: every single chapter they find each other in some form or way. Miles apart, cities apart, armies apart, yet these 3 keep on finding each other by magic or by travelling to see each other as if there are no issues what so ever... Too many things going on to be coherent, this book needed more time, more love and less cluttering.

I loved book 1, I liked book 2, book 3 is just meh.... and now I will have to wait for book 4 until the plot line is forgotten again and it will take me forever to remember all the stuff that came prior....
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
elin algreen
I was trying to prolong my read of REAPER for as long as possible because the faster I would read it, the longer the wait would be until the last book of the Ember Quartet and I’ve been through enough torture as it is. Of course, my lack of willpower is a domineering force as seductive as the Nightbringer.

So, I will start out by saying that I have mixed feelings. Lots of them. On one hand, this is one of my favorite series in the entire world and I have nothing but love and appreciation for it - it is what made me a dedicated fan to Sabaa and her writing and I am a lifelong reader of her writing now. Plus, nothing can beat that feeling I experienced when I fell hard for EMBER. And on the other hand, this book suffered from a few execution problems that affected my enjoyment.

I will say that REAPER has amazing moments that I find so familiar in Sabaa’s writing. The first third (and nearly half!) of the book dragged. I felt filler syndrome and every chapter that succeeded the last made me kind of agonize at the idea that maybe there wouldn’t be much happening. There’s a lot of going back and forth and so much…traveling. The details became lost to me as those chapters wore on and I really agonized for the big moments where things would happen. I feel like if those chapters were cut in half, the pace would have been much smoother and enjoyable for me. For EMBER and TORCH, I zipped through the books because they were so…keeping-me-on-the-edge-of-my-seat and I didn’t have that here and I think it’s because they were set up so perfectly and had sweeping scenes that kept me going. For REAPER, I was not as pumped to push on and keep turning pages. When I had to put the book down, I wasn’t too disappointed until I got to the second half of the book.

To add to the above, there were big revelations in REAPER that I wish had been executed better. Sure, there were cats that were let out of the bag that we’d been expecting since book one, but I just wanted more…‘oomph’? I was bogged down by all the filler that it made those big realizations not as exciting as I really hoped them to be (nevertheless, they were enjoyable!).

Enough of the eh stuff and onto the good stuff. I was never a huge fan of Helene and this was Sabaa’s love letter to me about Helene and I fell in love with her by the end. Might my malice towards her have been because of Laia and Elias? SURE. YES. ABSOLUTELY. I had started to like her just a bit in TORCH, but now I am such a fan of her and to be honest, I was looking forward to her chapters the most as the story progressed. She really goes through so much and the pain and struggle she feels, not only as the Blood Shrike, but as Helene - a young woman bound to duty and to family that pulls her in different directions. I would have loved to see more interaction between her and Livia (who I wish had a bigger part in this book, I hope to see more of her in #4!) and my heart would be lying if I didn’t say I want to see more Helene/Harper (OH DIS HURTS ME).

I just really liked her parts - especially when it came to interacting with Marcus, Keris, Cook, and Laia. Her relationships with them are so different and complicated and because of the type of character she is, it’s so rare to see so many sides of her despite all of them masking in absolute, but real disdain for everyone. And of course, she’s just a badass.

Elias’s role in the book was one of my favorites. I don’t know what it is - probably because of his incredible struggle to bind himself to the role of Soul Catcher just got to me. I was immersed in his journey from the beginning of EMBER to now and it hasn’t stopped. He has so much on his shoulders and like the rest of the characters, he’s bound by so many things that are constantly pulling at him until he’s basically in a mental execution by quartering. It takes him a while to find the truth and what his real duties must be, but when he does, it’s so crushing to me as a reader, knowing what he has to sacrifice. And I am deeply grateful to Sabaa Tahir for putting him in such a position to make her reader feel so deeply for him because damn I just wanna give him all the good things and take him away from Mauth and the Waiting Place.

I am the most ambivalent about Laia which is pretty surprising to myself. I didn’t get her sense of journey that I did from EMBER AND TORCH. For her, it felt like this was a big exposition in preparation of setting her up for a big arc in the last book (which I am totally for), but I really wish I got more from her here. She’s always been an incredibly strong and willful character despite the downfalls she faced. When she was at her lowest, I never thought that it would be so hard for her to rise again. She’s always risen no matter what and I like that about her - I just wish there was a shift in dynamics. I do like reading her perspective when it comes to the other characters (obviously in relation to Helene and Cook specifically). There was this one moment when Harper calls Laia by her name and that just made me really happy. I love that she inspires these small lovely moments that make me smile even in the midst of the chaotic scene. I’m really looking forward to her growth in the last book, knowing how much of a struggle it was for her to own her place in the resistance in these last three books - I AM SO PUMPED.

I also want to talk about the Commandant, but she’s so complicated with so many secrets and it makes me all frustrated and irritable, but man, I am here for those secrets she still has up her sleeve (also, flashbacks of soft Keris for the win).

I have to say that I am madly in love with Sabaa’s writing style, particularly when it came to the Nightbringer’s scene in the beginning and at the end. If there is one thing she is phenomenally fantastic at, it’s opening chapters and ending ones - particularly the last page. The Nightbringer, though he is an antagonist, he is so complex because of the past that Sabaa gives him - not just in the folklore of him, but the actual history of what happened to cause him to be the Nightbringer. The last page punched me in the gut and I really want to read more about him as Meherya - it’s my lifeblood at this point.

Despite the shortcomings REAPER personally had for me, it is still a wonderful read. Albeit, a little too long, but the familiar artistry that Sabaa has in her writing is all there for the world to fall in love with again.
Benjamin Ashwood :: Middlemarch :: Middlemarch A Study of Provincial Life :: MIDDLEMARCH (Spanish Edition) :: Book Three - The Beauty of Darkness - The Remnant Chronicles
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Don't get me wrong it is excellently written...
If you're hoping for this to be the end of story that has everyone get with the one they love, you ain't gonna like it.
To me at least it sucked and was entirely unsatisfying in the end. Spoiler...Elias and Laia never get together. Good storylines and all but i feel like I hung on to the series because I was waiting for them to get together. I also felt like I was waiting for Helene and Harper to get together and yet that never happens.
I guess what I wanted was some nice tied ends for the main characters and for them to finally get with one another after all their trials and yet I feel like a read a dozen battle scenes that were all generally the same, and didn't have anything really come of it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
michal filipowski
"A Reaper at the Gates" continues where Torch left off, thrusting us back in the action, beginning with a section from the perspective of the Nightbringer. The rest of the book alternates between Helena (now the Blood Shrike), Laia, and Elias (now the Banu al-Mauth). Helena is still dealing with the loss of her family and her increasing duties as the Blood Shrike under Marcus's reign. Marcus has a smaller role in this book and his appearance is less and less. The true enemy is the Commandant- we don't know what she is planning but we know it can't be anything good. Her manipulations only become clear after they have occurred.

Laia is being pushed even further than she has in the past- she is emerging as a reluctant leader of the Scholars. Alongside her brother, she is on a journey to figure out how to stop the Nightbringer, but also how to become the leader she needs to be. Her journey felt a bit like wandering until the quest becomes clear, and she must follow it step by step to achieve her seemingly destined role. Her and Elias's relationship takes a backseat to the other tasks before them.

Elias's sections were the least directed, as his struggles are internal. He must let go of his humanity and everything that makes him an individual, including his feelings for Laia and Helena, in order to fulfill the role of the Banu al-Mauth, to guide the spirits to the world beyond and guard the forest. His journey was one of self and recognizing weakness/what is required of him in the role he is to take.

This book was fast-paced and engaging, and I finished it all too quickly. Most of the book felt like it was filling the gap between the past to where we need to be for the final book in the series. That being said, I found there was more than enough happening to make this a great read. However, of course, nothing is settled, as is expected for an in-between book. Helene's perspective was my favorite by far in this book- she has so much heart and soul that it feels like it pours from the pages. There was also the most action and content in her sections. I am definitely most curious about what will happen with Helena's story in the next book. She is quickly becoming my favorite amongst the main characters.

Overall, I think this was a well-written installment to a great series! I would recommend reading them close together in time as there is not much recap and a lot of characters to remember. I am looking forward to reading the fourth when it comes out!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shohib sifatar
Title: A Reaper at the Gates

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Series: An Ember in the Ashes, book three

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

An Ember in the Ashes, the first book in this series, was one of my favorite books of 2015, and the sequel, A Torch Against the Night, was just as fantastic. I reserved A Reaper at the Gates at my local library as soon as I knew of its existence, and it’s been sitting in my library stack for a while. As soon as I was finished with Let Me Tell You, I dove into this book, and honestly… My emotions are still roiling, and I finished it on Friday. I needed the whole weekend to process my feelings, and I’m so sad that I have to wait until 2019 for the sequel. This book was the best yet in the quartet, but it was also the most heartwrenching and emotional. I think I’m going to be scarred for life over this book, but that being said, it is easily one of my favorite books of 2018. I don’t want to say too much about the plot, for my readers that haven’t read it yet, so I’ll do my best to sum it all up without giving it away.

A Reaper at the Gates picks up where A Torch Against the Night left off. The threat of war looms large over The Empire. Helene Aquilla, The Blood Shrike, is facing unrest inside of The Empire and out. Things are even more perilous when she realizes that her sister’s life—and the lives of every citizen in The Empire—hangs in the balance. In the far east, Laia of Serra hunts for a way to stop the even bigger threat of The Nightbringer, but in the process, she faces unexpected threats and is drawn into a battle that she never even imagined she would fight. Elias is stuck in the land that dwells between the living and death, having given his freedom away to take on the mantle of Soul Catcher. But in so doing, the ancient power that he has pledged to serve will stop at nothing to ensure his devotion, even at the cost of his own humanity.

This book: It was beautiful, emotional, heartbreaking, and even three days later, I’m still shell-shocked. The pacing was breakneck, moving between Laia, Elias, Helene, and occasionally The Nightbringer, and this book grabbed me by the throat from the first line. I was captivated by Tahir’s gorgeous, beautiful prose, and as the book progressed, I was laughing, crying, or screaming. I also really loved the intense, realistic character development, especially the three main characters, Marcus, and The Commandant. Rife with romance, action, and more than a fair share of heartbreak, I was absolutely enchanted by this book. Full of twists that had me gasping in shock, I was enthralled, often against my will; there were times when I had to put the book down, because my heart couldn’t take it. I cried multiple times reading this book, and I spent most of the weekend crying over it, too. And that ending! It. Was. The Worst. I’m still reeling from it. I need the last book! Right now, or I’m gonna die! This book was the most exquisite torture, and I really enjoyed all of all the loose ends that it tied up. Is it April of next year yet? I’m dying! The bottom line: The third book in the bestselling Ember in the Ashes series, I loved A Reaper at the Gates, even while it shattered my soul and stomped my heart into tiny, broken pieces! Next on deck: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sarah clingan
The third book in this amazing series changes things up a bit keeping the main characters apart more than together but building for a follow up that is sure to be the very best yet.

As the threat of war within the empire grows, Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, has even more to worry about than protecting her people. Her sister, the only family she has left is now Emperor Marcus’s wife and he uses her to control Helene. Marcus is haunted by his past and with each passing day he grows more unstable. Using his weakness, Keris Veturia, the Commandant, puts her plan of gaining control of the empire into action causing Helene one more thing to worry about. While the empire grows unsteady, Laia of Serra is working to stop the Nightbringer. He is not her only problem though, she is suddenly thrust into a fight she never wanted to be a part of and doesn’t know if she can help win. Elias Veturius is now the Soul Catcher, caught in the land between the living and the dead. He has to put aside the part of him that wants to be with Laia and help the souls pass peacefully. Otherwise, the souls will wreak havoc on the rest of the world.

For some reason, when I started this book I was under the assumption it was going to be the last in the series. As I was reading through, especially when I reached the final few chapters, I was having trouble believing the story would be wrapped up neatly. I am happy to say that this book itself is tied up but leaves a beautiful opening for the next in the series. I loved the way things progressed and the characters found themselves independent instead of relying on each other to be complete. With Laia and Elias spending so much time apart, it really shows them growing into the character I feel they are meant to be, which flowed very naturally. The very best part is something I can’t say because I don’t want to spoil anything. There is a reveal with one of the characters that once you realize what is happening, it will put a smile on your face and have you remembering parts in the first two books in a very different light. In writing a YA book, there are so many aspects that are different than most books and Sabaa Tahir has found a way to really embrace her writing and find her audience. There was a little bit more language than I would have liked to have seen for a YA, but overall it wasn’t bad and it could have been a whole lot worse. The book goes back and forth between the viewpoints of Laia, Elias, and The Blood Shrike, which gives the reader a full understanding of the world and fully encompassing what is happening and how our characters react to each situation. I recommend this book to Young readers and those that love a great dystopian read.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Two stars - and only because the author can write. BUT what she wrote was painful to read - tedious, plodding, and way too long. And what's with the three main characters being dimmer than humanly possible? Their internal monologues are too inane to be believed! Eg (paraphrasing here): "Am I being tricked?" "Is Keris up to something?" "Is Mauth upset with me?" (Hint: "Yes" to all questions.) And yet they NEVER get a clue. Rinse; repeat. It. Is. Infuriating. And when did this become a quartet? I was under the impression that it was a trilogy. Ugh. I'm so disappointed that all the promise of the first book has been squandered, and for what? To cash in on a fourth book? This should have been the end of it. Boo.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jenny nielsen
Please Note: I received an advance copy of this audio book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.

A Reaper at the Gates, continues the series that began with the YA fantasy novel An Ember in the Ashes. Author Sabaa Tahir immerses readers in a world of empires, wars, and star-crossed lovers, with non-stop action. The audio book is a rich production that brings an epic quality to the novel, and comes with my highest recommendation.

What I Liked:

The whole novel's setting is reminiscent of the Ancient Roman Empire. I loved the society, obsessed with power plays, and military conquests. The novel moves deeper into that structure, spending equal time with the vanquished peoples absorbed into the empire. This created layers of social structure that brought characters with generations of background grudges to bear.

I also loved the spiritual setting of The Waiting Place, a purgatory where souls wait to "move on". Elias, the new Soul Catcher, must learn how to help the ghosts move on. But, in order to do so, will he have to let go of his humanity?


The book is filled with characters who each struggle with their own cherished desires, against the larger backdrop of history. The story of Laia, and Elias, the star-crossed lovers, is especially swoon-worthy. Sabaa Tahir seems to enjoy putting obstacles in their way! But we readers did get some intense romantic moments!

Helene, the Blood Shrike, is a military leader in way over her head. I could feel her panic as she gets out-maneuvered time and time again by the Commandant (who also happens to be Elias's mother). She is also a leader who cares deeply for her sister (the only other surviving member of her family), and her people. As the book progresses, Helene develops more and more compassion for others, which goes against much of her military training.


The Story is heavy on the action with several battle sequences and narrow escapes for the characters. My one criticism for the story is that the quick pacing made it seem as though everything happened faster than it did. Months (and possibly years?) do pass in the story, but I didn't really understand that until Helene mentioned that she finished her military training seven years prior!

I thought the author did a very good job describing the action during battle scenes. Often in books battle scenes are confusing and difficult to follow. Not so with this book! I could envision all the action in my head. I think this is because the author takes care in these scenes to not gloss over important explanations of war tactics. I haven't really read anything like this in other novels.

Audio Production:

With three points of view, this book utilizes the talents of three amazing voice actors: Fiona Hardingham (as Laia), Katherine McEwan (as the Blood Shrike), and Steve West (as Elias). There are also

two brief chapters at the beginning and at the ending featuring the deep, rich voice of Maxwell Caulfield as The Night Bringer.

I was struck, not only by the actor's performances of their primary characters, but also of the many other characters they had to portray. Fiona Hardingham does an amazing job of voicing Cook, as a rasping old woman. She did such a convincing job, I was actually worried for her vocal chords! Katherine McEwan plays the conflicted Helene, but also the evil Commandant, and many of the male soldiers. She does all these characters with conviction. Steve West plays Elias, but also the many ghosts in The Waiting Place. He makes for a creepy, and convincing ghost! All three actors together really enrich the audio book experience.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shirley truong
“Hope is stronger than fear. It is stronger than hate.”

At this point in the Ember series, I knew what I was getting into. I knew this book was going to grab me and not let go. And it didn't disappoint.

(Following paragraphs are spoilers for the first two books)

Elias is a Soul Catcher, Laia has to save the world, and Helene is full-on Blood Shrike. It's going down.

I'm not gonna lie, I was really hoping to finally get some Elias-Laia time in this one, but alas, it was not to be. I enjoyed the layers upon layers of magic and history that poured out of the pages, and I started to swoon for Harper on Helene's behalf. (Even though he tortured her...weird. *shrug*)

Laia did frustrate me a little bit in this book. She was constantly stressed and impatient; she wouldn't listen to anyone and she always thought she knew better. I thought that was going to come back to bite her, although she seems to have gotten out of it okay (so far). Now, waiting for book 4, I find myself super intrigued by the Commandant's past and motivations. And all I want is for Laia and Elias to become a Soul Catcher family and live happily every after. Please?

Also, I was really proud of myself for guessing the identity of the Cook way back in book 1. I'm usually not very good at seeing things like that! 

I can't believe I have to wait for book 4 after BLOWING through the first 3 in only a few days. *sigh*
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
A Reaper at the Gates is another enthralling installment in the An Ember in the Ashes series. Sabaa Tahir is a beautiful wordsmith who takes you through a world built with depth, creativity, and pulse-pounding action. This book is expertly crafted despite it being my least favorite of the three so far. Helene's story was probably my favorite despite the fact that for most of the book it felt like she was being played by characters much smarter than her. She still managed to be clever and grow despite her circumstances. Elias' story was interesting but also frustrating because if he had accepted his fate faster, he could have had a lot fewer problems. However, I loved the action, terror, and power woven into his storyline. It made for a gripping read. Laia's storyline was heartfelt and intriguing. I loved the world building we experienced within her story, taking magic, history, and relationships deeper within her world. She also had the best surprises happen to her. Although, her story overall seemed rather futile and directionless. She kept running here and there and everywhere trying to prevent something from happening that you knew was probably going to happen anyway. So it is a good thing that we learn so much with her in this book, otherwise most of what she did in this book would all have been fairly pointless in the end. Regardless of these small instances, this is still an enjoyable book and one that was crafted to stand above the rest.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lindsay stares
Another EMBER novel, another epic adventure, another heartache. This was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018, so much so that I was a little scared to dive into it since author Sabaa Tahir is not known for being kind to her characters. But I couldn't resist, and dove right back into Laia, Elias, and Helene's world. And I was not disappointed! The story was absolutely epic and had everything that I loved about the previous books. There was more depth to the lore, even more brutal action scenes and character drama, especially in Helene's chapters, some serious surprises regarding Laia, and a massive gut-punch for poor Elias. Yup, things are not looking good for our heroes right now, but honestly, this book couldn't have ended any other way. I'm clamouring for the next one, and I honestly don't know how the remaining characters can survive what's to come. I doubt I should be hoping, but I can't help it! They need a break! Or at least a long vacation with some sexy times (poor Elias, you're going to have to beg). My one regret is that I kept reading quickly because I was desperate to find out what happened next and who would survive, so this adventure was over a little sooner than I wanted it to be, given how much I missed these characters. But there's one more book, and I can't wait to see what's in store for these heroes next.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
john peabody
Elias, Helene, and Laia are faced with greater dangers than ever before. This book is full of more heartbreak, twists and turns, and violence than the other two.
Elias is struggling to keep his humanity as his vow to be the Soul Catcher demands he sacrifice all for the greater good. His chapters are heavy with his struggle to hold onto a dream of love for Laia that may never be a reality. His protectiveness for the ones he loves is all that keeps him from giving into a greater force than himself.

Helene's every moment is dedicated to outsmarting her enemies to protect her people. The Commandant is as cunning as ever and becomes even more of a threat. Helene's family and her loyal masks at her side, especially Harper, fuel her unrelenting strength and determination to save the empire.

Laia becomes more desperate to stop the Nightbringer and in the process, overcomes the self-doubt that has always plagued her. Without Elias, without Izzy, she learns to rely on her own strength to endure every challenge she faces. But never forgets her heart and doing what's right in the process. Darin struggles with trauma from the torture he endured in prison.

The Nightbringer becomes a more completed antagonist that I enjoy. Sabaa Tahir writes action, suspense, and anguish perfectly through every chapter. I root for these characters and love them more and more. They feel real and full of depth. This book does not have a happy ending, but because I believe in the characters so much I still felt hope at the end of it.

In terms of plot, Helene's chapters overshadow the other two. But I looked forward to reading Laia's passionate and distinct voice. Elias chapters always left me feeling sad and haunted just like the forest. A must read if you liked the other two books in the series. This book is a great addition to our hereos' journeys
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lauren g

You know, even though I knew this would be the death of me, I'm still shocked by all the things that happened throughout this book. That being said, if you're picking up this book I hope you realize you're bringing upon your own death. Joking. But also not really.

One of the most magical things about this books, and the previous two in this series, is the fact that there are three story lines running concurrently and yet it's very easy to follow. While all three story lines have their own characters, plot points, and settings they all come together as one in a big beautiful mash up at the end. Laia's story line takes her across the Empire and even to the outskirts of Tribal lands, all the while we meet new people, see old friends, and learn more and more about her tragic history and her shaky future. Helen's story takes us deep into the political and social unrest taking over her life and clouding her actions. It's a deep and necessary look at the Empire's inner workings and one person's attempts to tear it all down (that person being Keris Venturia). Meanwhile, Elias must take on the role of Soul Catcher, no matter how unprepared he is. He's convinced he can find a way to balance his new duties in the Waiting Place with his desire to help those he loves on the outside, but he comes to learn that love cannot thrive within his new life.

This book has the same flow and eloquent wording as the previous two, the scenes flowing together with the correct tones and inflections carried throughout. There's something so beautiful about her writings that makes you even love the harsher, more dangerous scenes. Sabaa Tahir treats her characters terribly, makes you love someone and then just takes them away, but it's something that you love to hate. Part of what makes this series so successful, besides the obvious parallels to our society today, is the fact that Sabaa Tahir is such an incredible writer who weaves the most magical and enchanting worlds.

One of the best parts about this installment in the series is the fact that we see a lot of character development here. Laia is slowly but surely becoming the leader she was destined to be, but being leader means making hard decisions, life or death decisions, and she doesn't like what these choices are doing to her. Elias, in order to become Soul Catcher, must let go of all his human emotions and his ties to the living world. Doing this means letting go of his family, letting go of Laia, but if he doesn't then he runs the risk of letting the ghosts loose on the living world. Will he choose his heart, or choose the protection of the living world? Let's not forget about Helene, who is torn so deeply between her love and duty for her country and her love for her last remaining family member, her sister, Empress Livia. Not to mention her growing feelings for Avitas Harper (which I ship with my whole heart), which crosses the line between Shrike and Mask, but feels oh, so right.

Basically this book was just a dip back into one of my favorite YA worlds, and even though everything that could go wrong did go wrong, I still loved every second of it. This book is one big gut wrenching joy ride through bloody battle scenes, crooked political plays, and doomed romances but boy, do I love this series.

Side Note: The cover changes for this series were a hot topic, and I feel like cover changes of any kind can be a bit frustrating for readers who are very specific about their shelves, but I don't hate this change. Am I a bit sad that my books won't match? Yes. Am I gonna get over it? Also yes.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
gwen the librarian
After one and a half years, Sabaa Tahir is back with the same ruthlessness that we expected from her first two books in the Ember series. “A Reaper at the Gates” differs from “A Torch Against the Night” in that it picks up two months after the events of the last book instead of immediately afterwards. Having broken her brother out of prison at the expense of the man she loves, Laia is now forced to live with the consequences of her journey to liberate her brother. This means living up to her own reputation as a leader and learning to make difficult choices in a difficult war. Likewise, Helene Aquilla, aka the Blood Shrike, is faced with the worst choice possible. Endorse a monstrous Emperor, or risk losing the last remnants of the family she has left. As both girls move deeper into a world that they’re determined to save, Elias- the Soul Catcher- must leave the world of the living behind for the world of the dead.

Tahir’s decision to include Helene’s POV in book two really bears fruit in Reaper. The Blood Shrike’s POV provides much needed insight into the Empire and the Nightbringer’s machinations for power, something that we get a taste of with his limited POV chapters. The Blood Shrike’s cool and decisive voice provides a strong contrast to Laia’s passionate and sympathetic one. This book is carried almost completely on the shoulders of these two character’s pov as they illustrate how it’s possible to be good when you’re on the wrong side and wrong when you’re trying to do good.

Elias’ chapters are a departure from the Elias that we grew to love in both Torch and Ember. His new role as Soul Catcher is designed to pull him away from the world of the living, and as such his POV feels slightly disconnected from the others. His journey is an important one that I’m invested in, but it definitely makes me question what his future involvement in the series will be.

I feel that “A Reaper at the Gates” went back to the brutality that made “An Ember in the Ashes” great. The fantasy element is also better woven into the fabric of this novel than it was in “A Torch against the Night.” Bookending Reaper with Nightbringer chapters sets the tone for what’s to come while providing valuable insight into a villain that gets less villainous as the series goes on. Indeed, this book forces you to question: How much is too much to right past wrongs?

This question is especially relevant in a series that often draws parallels between current events and the devastation of it’s fantasy world. It’s impossible to miss the accusation that the Scholar’s refugee camps throws in our faces when we think of the countless refugees needing sanctuary in real life. The butchery of the Scholars brings to mind both past and present genocide crises. Indeed, the Martial empire may be fictional, but it’s problem’s are anything but.

My one little quip about this book is that very few of the events surprised me. Actually, if you just went in expecting the worse, then most of the time you were proven right. I would have liked a little bit more uncertainty as to how it would all turn out, but instead I took away the feeling that destiny is written in the stars and cannot be changed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
polly forns
A compelling read for a diverse audience. The first book did a great job setting up a somewhat contained world. But we realized the brutality and stakes very quickly. The second, Torch, expanded that world substantially as the characters moved far beyond the confines of the Blackcliff military academy into some haunting areas, both literal and figurative, with some shocking, gut-wrenching twists.

Reaper takes the story much, much further, with easily the best world-building in the series. We get unexpected insight into this land's magic, especially the Nightbringer and the Augurs. Laia, who had some solid character development in the first two, grows exponentially in this one, and by the end, I believed she was capable of nearly anything. As with all Tahir's characters, that undercurrent of dread is substantial, and I wonder about her connection to the world's magic.

Helene's somewhat tragic storyline becomes epic in scope, with a big part of the book taken up by significant battles and beyond. Elias's path in the Waiting Place is decidedly unexpected. I find this the most extraordinary of Tahir's decisions - taking this beloved character down some tough existential paths. Beyond those we're introduced to some great new characters in the free lands. And there are at least two shocks in store that I certainly didn't see coming. I wouldn't expect anything less of this author.

Without spoilers, end to end it's quite the book, an extraordinary series, and a great analogy for our times.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
allie mac
I don't know why it took me so long to write this review. Okay, I do. I read and finished this book about two days after its release. I read half and listened to the second half via Audible. It was my first time listening to an audiobook. I didn't realize how exciting audiobooks were, so I ended up listening to multiple books after finishing A Reaper at the Gates. It was a great distraction.

I'm rating A Reaper at the Gates a 4 out of 5. It was a stressful read. There was a lot of action and a lot of 'Noooooo''s. These are all compliments.

<spoilers past this point>

From the past two books, my favorite character was Elias. He completely transforms in this book. He is supposed to be a powerful being, but is actually kind of helpless when it comes to the human world. That does NOT stop him from trying to interfere with human issues. This frustrated me some. He knew he couldn't do much to help and Sheava wouldn't teach him until he let go of everything. Then Sheava dies and can't teach him anything! Honestly, I'm kind of on the Nightbringer's side. Okay, not really, but really. Of course I don't want all of the human race to be executed, but he does have a great motive to be a villain. When Elias finally releases the physical world, it isn't a surprise, but the fact that he will be helping the Nightbringer, promises an interesting dynamic in the next book.

Now on to Laia. With each book she gets braver and more mature. I would have liked to see more moments with her brother since her entire life changed because of him. Also, it was mentioned how different he was but I never really saw how. He was traumatized, but I did want to see some more examples. It was exciting when he started making the weapons though. On Laia's side, she didn't seem to get much done (unless I'm just forgetting her moments). She uses her powers more, but there is still a lot of mystery behind it. Who is this woman she keeps seeing? My guess is that it's Nightbringer's wife, but I guess I have to wait for the next book. The most exciting part in Laia's narrative (in my opinion) is when Cook is revealed to be her birth mother. I wasn't surprised because it was foreshadowed, but I was so excited for this reveal!!!!. The fact that Cook had to kill her own family to save them, that was deep and heartbreaking. It isn't explained (yet) why Cook stayed with the Commandant. I can't wait to see how Cook interacts with her children in the next book. I also want to see more of Darin's personality. I will say, in the audiobook, Cook's voice was a bit creepy haha.

Now Helene. I'm shaking my head in frustration. I loved her POV, but it was sooo irritating and unfair. Is it bad to say that Marcus' death was a highlight? Helene's sister is a strong one! I'm excited to see how Helene's magic makes him grow up. I didn't fully understand why Helene couldn't just kill the Commandant. They were already at war, could a civil war really hurt them that bad? Okay, as I wrote that it didn't make sense so I guess I understand. The Commandant is a giant hater. She just won't let Helene live. I did enjoy watching them set each other up though. Helene's power is my favorite. It's interesting that she has to feel the pain of the people she healed. My favorite scene might be when she and Laia reunite to help Helene's sister give birth.

In the end, Nightbringer ends up like Thanos. Victorious with all of the rings, I mean all of the silver pieces. And I loved it. I absolutely understand his motives.

This book was so fast-paced, maybe that is another reason why I took a break before writing this review. I needed to catch my breath. I don't mind that, but there may be others who feel there is too much action. Just remember, they are fighting in a war. Overall, I'm still loving the series, but An Ember in the Ashes is still my favorite in the series. A Reaper at the Gates set up a lot of things that I can't WAIT to see unfold in the next book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
One word: Brutal.

I've been waiting with bated breath for the most recent novel in the "An Ember in the Ashes" series and BOY does Sabaa ever deliver a winner. The Empire is under attack from a number of fronts and virtually no one is safe. While the first two books weren't exactly a fluffy walk in the park I found A Reaper at the Gates an especially brutal heart-wrencher in so many different ways. I was surprised that I actually enjoyed Helene's chapters more than I enjoyed most of the Elias chapters in this one. Elias chapters did (unfortunately) snap my attention back near the end of the book and once again: omg brutal. So when does the next one come out?!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
douglas smith
I listened to this book on audible. Best narrators EVER!!!
I LOVE THIS SERIES!!! I can easily say that this is my new favorite series!!!!
This is book 3 of a quartet.
This book picks up a couple of months after book 2 and it jumps right back into the action. There are so many things going on in this book, not complaining!
I tried catching my husband up and I just couldn't keep the excitement from my voice and I was just like and then this happened and while that was happening, this is going on, oh and then this! I did not do it justice. Lol
We continue with the 3 POVs like in book 2 but you get a glimpse into a special 4th character in the first chapter and the last.
I REALLY started looking forward to Helene's chapters... I mean the Blood Shrike. Her story has just been crushing and I can't tell you how many times I have shed tears for her in this book and the last. And I'm just gonna say... Harper (love him!!)
This series keeps me on my toes. I have never read a series where the next book gets better and better. This series keeps blowing me away! I laugh, I cry (a lot), and I'm just the biggest fan!
Read this series!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The third installment for this series and this book was amazing, just as expected.

A Reaper at the Gates was just as action-packed as the other books and kept me reading into the wee hours of the night. I LOVE that each chapter is told by one of our main characters. I cant say too much because of spoilers. Follow Laia, Elias, and Helene (the Blood Shrike) through more adventures and more danger. I don't know how I'll ever be able to wait for book #4. I need it now!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
WOW!!! This series just keeps out-doing itself! The third installment left me on the edge of my seat the entire time—I could not put it down! Truly, Ms. Tahir knows how to write captivating, intricate stories. Her characters continue to unravel, showing that no one is fully good nor evil. There is ALWAYS more that what meets the eye.
When I began the series, I was all-in for the romance between Elias and Laura, but in this book, I was reading for Helene. Her story arc was the most gripping and wrenching for me in this book. And while I loved the moments between Elias and Laia (few and heart breaking as they were), Helene has become my favorite character, due to her unending strength and brilliant mind.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cecilia robles
I waited for over 2 months to get this book from the library. Now o see why. The war has begun, surprises in every corner, questions answered, love lost.....but is this the end? Apparently not. Oh to read the next book — which doesn’t even have a title yet. Author wrote descriptively making the reader feel like they are there. Could not put the book down to go to bed at night. Can’t wait for the next book!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

That's all.

Sabaa Tahir is such a talented writer. Just an incredible author who has created characters and a world that any YA fantasy reader can fall in love with. A Reaper at the Gates is a brilliant sequel to An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night, and I cannot wait to see how the series wraps up with book #4.

Write faster, Sabaa...

(Just kidding. Please take your time and give us the ending we crave! Thank you for these delightful characters and beautiful tale!)
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Eh, it was okay, but book one and two were way better. Book one took me a few days to read. Two took me about a week and this book....well....took me over a month and that is slow. It was a slog with bits of good things thrown in. Here's to hoping book four is better. Elias and Laia need to be together, BUT, I wonder if Laia will end up with the Nightbringer. I would like that, too. Love the twist haha.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ian bruce
Wow, what an amazing followup. I didn't think it was possible for everyone's stories to get even more interesting but they do. This book is full of amazing scenes and really fun plot-twists and it will break your heart. Please read it immediately!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Definitely felt like a third book in a series. The plot moves along in many ways, but you never feel like anything quite happens exactly until the end. There's a major plot twist near the end which is interesting. I listened to it on audio and it was enjoyable, although a bit slow at times. Looking forward to the end of an intense series with Book 4!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
slater smith
I love this series. Looks like I'll have to wait for another book to come out to find out how it ends. I downloaded the Audible version for all books in this series. I love, love, love the people who read this book. They are awesome and really make the characters come to life. The author is excellent and so is the story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
holly anderson
An excellent continuation of the series. Laia, Elias, and the Blood Shrike find themselves challenged as an ancient evil starts to spread. There are new friends, old foes, and surprises galore. Only drawback - I'm going nuts waiting for the next book!!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sherry chandler
I love this series and how I really do not know how it can resolve itself so I won't be devastated. I thought it was the last in a trilogy and was soooo disappointed that I wasn't going to get my answers yet but glad the story continues. Great conflicted characters and twists and turns.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
This book started very slow with a lot of filler side stories until 2/3 where it seemed to get back on track. I thought we would have an end to the series but no. I want to know how it all ends but I don’t want to keep dragging through so many small stories to get back to the main characters.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
aditya rajaraman
Another amazing book by an amazing author in an amazing series. When I first read the summary of Ember, I thought it’d end up basically being Red Queen in a different setting. I WAS WRONG. this series has been so unique and beautifully crafted and A Reaper at the Gates has followed suit. Now I just don’t know what to do until the next one comes out!! Definitely definitely worth the read!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kevin roman
Wow wow wow. The worldbuilding, the characters, the plot, the setting, literally everything about this series blows me away. They just keep getting better. I have no idea how she will top this with #4, but I have no doubt that she will.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
This third book does not disappoint! I CANNOT wait for the next one. The characters maintain their identity even as changes occur in the Book and I appreciate that consistency. I was constantly entertained and I can't wait to see what the next books holds.
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