Review | A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3) by Sabaa Tahir

Title: A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3) by Sabaa Tahir

Published: June 12, 2018

Genre(s): fantasy, fiction, adult

Read as: …its complicated

Rating: 2.5/5

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister’s life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. Yet danger lurks on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor’s volatility to grow her own power—regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows that the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. During the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help 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. However, in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender—even if that means abandoning the woman he loves. (Goodreads)

“You cannot walk in the shadows as long as I have and not become one.”

No one, and I mean no one, is as surprised as I am at what I rated this book. I hoped for five stars but truly anticipated this being a four star read. Book one, An Ember in the Ashes, I gave a very solid four. Book two, A Torch Against the Night, earned every bit of its five star rating. But then we come this. A Reaper at the Gates. The monster in the room.

I was so damn bored.

How? Why? How did this happen? I truly do not know. I had put off reading this for quite some time. Don’t ask why, I’m a mood reader and my moods are fickle. But, I finally felt it. That urge to drag this gorgeous emerald beast of a book off of my shelf and return to the glorious yet brutal world Tahir built with Laia, Helene, and Elias. I was truly excited to see them again, see what they were up to, get lost in their stories once more.

The problem was that their stories were stagnant. For around 75% of this book nothing worth mentioning happened. Our characters whom we have grown to know and appreciate certainly do things during that first three-quarters of the story but it did not feel as if it were anything important or to relevant to the story. It all felt like build up. Chapter after chapter after chapter of build up and back story that really didn’t lead anywhere. Will it all mean something in the fourth book? I don’t know, I hope so, but for right now it felt like filler and fluff.

What really got me is that when the action did finally get going it was all things I had predicted fairly early on which, in case you don’t know me, is rare. My predictions are never right but this was just like ticking boxes. At that point I had been so beaten into the ground with the dragging lead up that there were no surprises left. Even the ending felt like a foregone conclusion.

In a nutshell, this book was a bore. Pushing myself to read it was a chore. The trudging plot was predictable, the few main character interactions we got felt incredibly forced, and in the end I didn’t care about what happened because you could see it all from a mile away. Am I still going to read the conclusion to this series? Absolutely. The first two installments were stellar and Tahir has proven she is a phenomenal writer. Was Reaper her best work? Certainly not. But I think her best work is still to come.

3 thoughts on “Review | A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3) by Sabaa Tahir

  1. I’m so glad I’m not alone in feeling this way! I adored an Ember in the Ashes (that was a solid 5 star read for me), but the same thing happened to me with A Torch Against the Night (sorry, I know you liked that one 😅) and A Reaper at The Gates. And I can’t even tell you what exactly it was that I didn’t like! Everything just felt so lacklustre compared to the first book, and I found myself kind of bored… But you bet I will also be continuing with on the series! The first book was too amazing for me not to 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I loved the first one of these, but wit every chapter of Helene’s perspective, they get weaker and weaker in my opinion. She’s just a character I can’t connect to at all, and while I get that inner conflict of hers, I think it’s stupid that she just stands by as Marcus does all of these terrible things. Regarding the last one being a bore: I agree. After three books of only terrible things happening to these characters, I just can’t make me care about them anymore. There’s always the next catastrophe waiting, the next enemy army spawning out of nowhere and the next savior coming out of the blue. I’ll definitely read the last one, but the series has pretty much lost its appeal to me.


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