Mini Review: “A Reaper at the Gates” by Sabaa Tahir

3.5 stars

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.

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**Note: A Reaper at the Gates is the third book in the Ember in the Ashes quartet and the following review will contain spoilers for the first two books. 

A Reaper at the Gates is the long awaited sequel in the Ember quartet. I liked this book but I have to say, I am a bit disappointed. A Reaper at the Gates didn’t captivate me as much as the first two books did. It was one of those books that I liked well enough but did not feel compelled to pick back up once I put it down.

Helene is definitely the shining light for me in this book. Her chapters kept me engaged while Laia’s and Elias’ did not. And we also get to learn more of the backstory for Harper and he has started to become one of my favorite characters.

There are a few things this book does really well:

  • We get a better glimpse of the world the books are set in, how vast it is, the different types of people. We get to go beyond the Empire to Marinn and see what the other nation is like
  • All three main characters go through a lot of character development in this book. Most of the book has the three MC’s separated so they all have their individual story lines so they each shine through in their own ways
  • We learn more about some side characters I’ve been wanting to get to know better
  • The villains. Sabaa is really good at creating multi-dimensional villains who aren’t evil just to be evil, they all have their reasons behind doing what they do. We learn more about the Keris’ and the Nightbringer’s backstories and because of that, I can never completely hate either of them

Things that could’ve been better: 

  • Some new magical elements were introduced (like a warlock leading a navy against the Empire) and the characters, who were so distraught by the presence of anything supernatural in the first book, didn’t seem to bat an eyelash. And yes, maybe they have just gotten used to their world being weird and unnatural by now but I wasn’t buying it. It seemed like Tahir started adding magical elements for the convenience of it to further the plot without giving a good enough explanation
  • This one is more of a personal preference: I was hoping the main characters would have more interactions in the book but it was mostly just the three of them going through their individual story arcs. This gave them opportunity to grow as individuals but the chapters just started to drag on towards the middle

Have you guys read the book? What did you think?

2 thoughts on “Mini Review: “A Reaper at the Gates” by Sabaa Tahir

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