Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review of A Torch Against the Night, Sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir

Back on March 15 of this year, I wrote a review of An Ember in the Ashes, book 1 of a fantasy series written by Sabaa Tahir.  I liked it so much (3.75/4) that I went out and bought #2, A Torch Against the Night, the next day!  It only took me 8.5 months before I finally got to the sequel.  I can't tell you why it took so long.  But it is what it is.

Okay, so did #2 measure up?  Not exactly.  It was still good, but not as good as the original.  As I'm sure you remember(!), I just went through this with Jamie Ford's latest, Love and Other Consolation Prizes.  I liked it, but I liked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost better.  It's really unfair because a 3.25/4 (my rating for this one and for LaOCP) is a darn good rating.  It's just not a 3.75.  Let me tell you why by comparing it to the 5 very positive bullet points that I listed for #1:

1.  #1 had 2 main protagonists, and the chapters flipped back and forth. #2 had 3 main protagonists, which I thought was fine.  I looked forward to all 3 perspectives.
2.  There was a lot of suspense in #1.  This one was also suspenseful. And there was a very big surprise about 3/4 of the way through.  That was cool.
3.  I really got into the romances and almost romances from #1.  In #2, not so much.
4.  This was the crusher.  I only got emotional a few times.  It's not that I didn't care, because I did.  It's just that I wasn't as invested in the characters as I hoped to be based on my reactions in #1.
5.  It was still well-written.  But, for me, it just didn't flow quite as smoothly as #1.

I'm going to add a #6.  And this is going to sound really dumb:

6.  There was too much senseless violence.

You're probably thinking "Huh?"  It's really hard to explain.  Remember when I said in #1 that there was a scene so heinous that I had to stop reading for a little bit?  Well, that happened a lot in this book.  I never stopped reading, though, because I think I became a little inured to it. Go figure.

I want to emphasize that A Torch Against the Night is a very good book. If you read An Ember in the Ashes, then you will want to read ATAtN. Several people that I know and trust liked this one as well as the first one.  It definitely could just be me.  As the professor in my poli sci class said in response to a student who prefaced his comment by saying that he could be wrong, "We'll concede that possibility."


  1. I don't think it's uncommon for an author to have a sophomore slump. I don't think I'd pick either of this author's books up, though, because I'm not into fantasy.

    1. I get that. Our RBC author on Saturday was Gail Carriger whose book, Soulless, is about vampires in England in the 1870s. People loved it, but, for me, it's just not my genre. I liked it well enough (3/4) but don't plan to read any more.

  2. I remember when the first book came out, some people complained about the violence (and maybe sexual violence? I can't remember). Sounds like that's also an issue with this second book too. I still think I'll probably try this series at some point, but I am a bit put off by this.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. Nicole, I really had no problem with the violence in #1. It worked with the story. It was #2 where the violence was over-the-top for me. I will be interested what you think, if you ever to get to it.


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