A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa TahirA Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir

A Torch Against The Night

bySabaa Tahir

Hardcover | August 30, 2016

Pricing and Purchase Info

$21.50 online 
$25.95 list price save 17%
Earn 108 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores




Spectacular.”Entertainment Weekly

Fresh and exciting...Tahir has shown a remarkable talent for penning complex villains.”A.V. Club

"Even higher stakes than its predecessor… thrilling." Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[An] action-packed, breathlessly paced story.” —Booklist, starred review

Set in a rich, high-fantasy world inspired by ancient Rome, Sabaa Tahir's AN EMBER IN THE ASHES told the story of Laia, a slave fighting for her family, and Elias, a young soldier fighting for his freedom.

Now, in A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT, Elias and Laia are running for their lives.

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.
Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars' survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.
But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus's will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape...and kill them both.
Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s eighteen-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash, and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks, a...
Title:A Torch Against The NightFormat:HardcoverDimensions:464 pages, 9.25 × 6.25 × 1.38 inPublished:August 30, 2016Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1101998873

ISBN - 13:9781101998878


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This series is amazing so far! Can't wait to read more
Date published: 2018-05-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from really good! keep it up! one of the few books that did not suffer the Sequel Downhill Disaster. just as good, if not better than the first book
Date published: 2017-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best sequels I've read! I was hesitant to pick up the sequel after reading An Ember In The Ashes, however, it exceeded my expectations! It is just as good as the first.
Date published: 2017-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect Sequel! Even better than the first which is saying a lot!! :)
Date published: 2017-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect sequel! I'm truly in love with this series! It's spectacular! This book really expanded on the world and minor characters (Helene)! Can't wait for the third!
Date published: 2017-07-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty Good In my opinion the first book was slightly better, I feel like the character development in this book was a little stagnant, besides Helene. I still really enjoyed being in this desert world and watching Helene struggle with her morals and loyalties to her friend and her Empire. Hopefully the third book will be much better...
Date published: 2017-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great sequel! I loved it, but not as much as the first one! The beginning was a little bit slow and it didn't feel the author were leading us somewhere. But the other half was really good and like the first one, I just couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2017-05-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good A great continuation of the story.
Date published: 2017-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love This is definitely one of my favourite books.
Date published: 2017-05-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! Not as good as the first but definitely a great read!
Date published: 2017-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this series! I love this series and all the characters, the story line is mesmerizing. Would definitely recommend!
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spectacular book! This book was fantastic! I can't wait for the next book.
Date published: 2017-03-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I love it! NEED THE NEXT ONE. ITS SO GOOD
Date published: 2017-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this book! One of my all time favorite books! I read it very quickly because it was soooo good.
Date published: 2017-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book! I bought this book a few days ago and it was amazing! Definitely one of my favourite books. I can't wait for the next one.
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved it The first one was so good I bought this the day it came out and had it read within 2 days. Held up against the first one and can't wait for the next book!
Date published: 2017-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from SO GOOD This was so good! Omg I was supposed to be writing a paper bUT instead this book kept me sooo hooked I just had to finish it! The part near the ending - so many emotions.
Date published: 2017-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 4.5 Stars! I really enjoyed this sequel. The first novel was really good and this one picked up right where the second one ended. Whereas the first story was only told alternating between the characters of Elias and Laia, in the 2nd, we have the added perspective of Helene. Quick, fast paced and well written. Laia is a far more likeable character in this book as compared to the first book. Definitely recommend this series and am eagerly anticipating the next installment!
Date published: 2017-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Need the Third Book! I just don't know what to say after finishing the sequel to one of my favorite debut novels of 2015. Sabaa Tahir's writing was intoxicating and just pulled me in. The story just got better and better! I'm already want the next book in my hands!! Sabaa, the sequel was brilliant! There are still so many unanswered questions! As you can see I was not disappointed! There was so many twists that I was on the edge of my seat! I am so glad there are two more books in the series. Laia and Elias have such great chemistry, and even getting to know Helene more. This world is so unique that you will start imagining you are there with the characters but this world is very cruel and more terrifying. During one part I was in total shock (not giving it away!) But there were moments that I was smiling. If you haven't picked up this series yet you have to head to the bookstore immediately! The plot and character development were great to see and no one will see that plot twist! Overall, A Torch Against the Night was so magnificent that it was even better then Ember. I am surely invested in this series. The writing is amazing, but every single thing in the book was amazing! Let the waiting begin!
Date published: 2017-01-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read I wasn't a huge fan of the first one, but this sequel was an interesting addition. Some interesting twists and I find the characters and plot more likeable and less predictable with this one.
Date published: 2017-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best YA book of 2016 It goes without saying that I really enjoyed An Ember In the Ashes. Almost immediately, I cared for both main characters, Laia and Elias, a great deal and worried about their safety throughout the story lol! I was thrilled that A Torch Against the Night was already published and available when I have finished "Ember." The sequel was as enjoyable - with interesting plot and character developments (that of course, I did not see coming). I look forward to reading more about the world that Sabaa Tahir has so painstakingly built. Highly recommend this series to all of my friends.
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An even better sequel! A Torch Against the Night was a delightful sequel. Sometimes, a sequel can be disappointing but I found this one to be much more interesting because we start to learn more about the magic in their world, as well as a glimpse of the Tribal culture Elias grew up in. We also get Helene’s perspective, someone who is wrought with internal conflict just as Elias is, if not for a different reason: her love for Elias and for her family. New plots unfold and sinister characters are introduced, all the while Laia and Elias’ journey brings them closer and closer even as they try to resist it. Action, magic, a teeny bit of romance, and mystery, A Torch Against the Night is a wonderful follow-up that satisfies, but also leaves you with a quiet sensation of wanting more! Can’t wait for the next one!
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Addictive!!! I just finished the book and now all I can think is: "When is the next one coming out? Why can't it be tomorrow?" Obviously I know why: Writing is an art that takes time, patience, and endless nitpicking, but I can't help myself–– ATATN was incredible! Everything I loved returned in full force and there was no end to all the surprises! The magic element was stronger in this sequel, which helped made the story's twists all the more powerful and mind-blowing. Just when I thought I had them figured out, the truth was revealed and threw me for another loop. Main characters Laia (yay!) and Elias (*swoons*) returned, but Helene was also added and I have to say, I liked her story a lot! She was never really my favourite, but in this sequel, I was able to sympathize with her more and am genuinely interested in what happens to her and how it will affect the Empire. As for Laia and Elias, well, how can I not love them?! Laia grows stronger by the day and I have so many questions about who/what she is. I adore her courage and can't wait to learn more. But it was Elias who stole the show for me. Not just because I love him to pieces as a person, but because his tale was filled with devastating trials and choices that will change everything he knows and loves. I don't know how he's going to get out of his current predicament, but I can only hope there will be a way. Then again, this is what Tahir does best––showing readers that there is hope, no matter how fleeting, small, or unconventional. A must read!
Date published: 2017-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love it Loved the characters and loved the story line
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from :) Just continued to enjoy the story and the characters that were part of it. Loved how the author made me question some things relating to the plot, i enjoyed that very much.
Date published: 2016-12-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Leaves you wanting more I really enjoyed this, but I thought it was a duology? Now I have to wait! Some very interesting and unexpected things happened, and some things happened that I kind of expected. I still have unanswered questions/assumptions/theories; about Cook, about Marcus and his voices, about Elias and how that agreement works...etc.
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved this! Amazing and heartbreaking equal!
Date published: 2016-11-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Look forward to next one! Really like it...interesting twist to the story. Can't wait for the next one
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Series just keeps improving! so excited for the next instalment
Date published: 2016-11-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It was great! It was great! Started right where the first one left off. Many twists and turns
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from YES YES YES This gets all the stars, every star out there! This book was absolutely amazing. The story got deeper the characters had amazing journeys and development. The plot twists were out of this world, they actually made me pause and rethink what my entire life would be like had I not read this book (probably boring but with less heart ache) We get to meet new characters in this book, some more likable then others. But over all absolutely fantastic. LOVE LOVE LOVE!
Date published: 2016-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A For the Lover of Books Review Number of pages: 452 Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1 Rating (out of five stars): 4.5 “Failure doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.” I am not okay! Nothing I wanted to happen happened, and I don’t know if it can be fixed. I know you can’t always get what you want, especially when concerning a Fantasy series, but I just want for everything it to be alright. I was so nervous to read Torch. I didn’t know how many books were going to be in this series, and when it was announced that there would be two more books, my concern only grew. I had already pre-ordered it, so there was no going back, but I couldn’t help but think that this would simply be a filler book and I would have to wait until 2018 to continue the story. I now can’t comprehend why I had any doubts. I (stupidly) didn’t re-read An Ember in the Ashes before reading A Torch against the Night and I struggled with some aspects of the story because of it. I recommend you read the first book before reading book two, as it starts right where we left off. This book took me on a huge emotional rollercoaster. It didn’t quite make me laugh and cry, but I felt the pain seep off the pages. It made my heart pound and my stomach queasy. Best of all, I couldn’t put it down. Sabaa Tahir’s written casts a sort of spell. Its beauty pulls you in, and her storytelling makes you stay. You are transported to a horrible, yet fascinating world; a world where brutality is rewarded and kindness is broken out of you. As the story unfolds, you know that this world will completely break you. The characters are all so wonderfully human. Strong, brave, and fierce Laia constantly doubts her strength. Helene (am I the only one who is not really a fan of her) is cold and brutal, but also loyal and compassionate. Elias (who is by far my favorite character) is so kind and honest, but he will always be a Mask. People can complain how unoriginal Ember and Torch are, but let me say this; most things are unoriginal now. You can say every story copied another leading all the way back to the first story ever told. What truly matters is what you do with that story; how you give it life. Luckily, that is something Sabaa Tahir excels at. Overall, A Torch against the Night is near perfect, earning it 4.5 stars out of 5.
Date published: 2016-09-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A solid second book When “Ember in the Ashes” first came out, it was speculated that this would be a single title. The author herself had only landed a one-book deal. Through a huge fan-push on Tumblr and social media, a second book was born, and it is oh-so good. Maybe not as good as the first, but it’s a really strong sophomore book (and second books are always a bit of a struggle in being “good” in their own right, since they are doing so much work backing up the plot lines from book one and getting you prepped for book three.) If there is no book three, I really just don’t know what I’ll do. There is still so much world to explore here.
Date published: 2016-09-02

Read from the Book

I: Laia   How did they find us so fast? Behind me, the catacombs echo with angry shouts and the screech of metal. My eyes dart to the grinning skulls lining the walls. I think I hear the voices of the dead. Be swift, be fleet, they seem to hiss. Unless you wish to join our ranks. “Faster, Laia,” my guide says. His armor flashes as he hastens ahead of me through the catacombs. “We’ll lose them if we’re quick. I know an escape tunnel that leads out of the city. Once we’re there, we’re safe.” We hear a scrape behind us, and my guide’s pale eyes flick past my shoul­der. His hand is a gold-brown blur as it flies to the hilt of a scim slung across his back. A simple movement full of menace. A reminder that he is not just my guide. He is Elias Veturius, heir to one of the Empire’s finest families. He is a former Mask—an elite soldier of the Martial Empire. And he is my ally—the only person who can help me save my brother, Darin, from a notorious Martial prison. In one step, Elias is beside me. In another, he is in front, moving with un­natural grace for someone so big. Together, we peer down the tunnel we just passed through. My pulse thuds in my ears. Any elation I felt at destroying Blackcliff Academy or rescuing Elias from execution vanishes. The Empire hunts us. If it catches us, we die. Sweat soaks through my shirt, but despite the rank heat of the tunnels, a chill runs across my skin and the hairs on the back of my neck rise. I think I hear a growl, like that of some sly, hungry creature. Hurry, my instincts scream at me. Get out of here. “Elias,” I whisper, but he brushes a finger against my lips—shh—and tugs a knife free from the half dozen strapped across his chest. I pull a dagger from my belt and try to hear beyond the clicking of tun­nel tarantulas and my own breathing. The prickling sense of being watched fades—replaced by something worse: the smell of pitch and flame; the rise and fall of voices drawing near. Empire soldiers. Elias touches my shoulder and points to his feet, then mine. Step where I step. So carefully that I fear to breathe, I mimic him as he turns and heads swiftly away from the voices. We reach a fork in the tunnel and veer right. Elias nods to a deep, shoulder-high hole in the wall, hollow but for a stone coffin turned on its side. “In,” he whispers, “all the way to the back.” I slide into the crypt, suppressing a shudder at the loud crrrk of a resident tarantula. A scim that Darin forged hangs across my back, and its hilt clanks loudly against the stone. Stop fidgeting, Laia—no matter what’s crawling around in here. Elias ducks into the crypt after me, his height forcing him into a half crouch. In the tight space, our arms brush, and he draws a sharp breath. But when I look up, his face is angled toward the tunnel. Even in the dim light, the gray of his eyes and the sharp lines of his jaw are striking. I feel a jolt low in my stomach—I’m not used to his face. Only an hour ago, as we escaped the destruction I wrought at Blackcliff, his fea­tures were hidden by a silver mask. He tilts his head, listening as the soldiers close in. They walk quickly, their voices echoing off the walls of the catacombs like the clipped calls of raptor birds. “—probably went south. If he had half a brain, anyway.” “If he had half a brain,” a second soldier says, “he’d have passed the Fourth Trial, and we wouldn’t be stuck with Plebeian scum as Emperor.” The soldiers enter our tunnel, and one pokes his lantern into the crypt across from ours. “Bleeding hells.” He recoils quickly at the sight of whatever lurks within. Our crypt is next. My belly twists, my hand shakes on my dagger. Beside me, Elias releases another blade from its sheath. His shoulders are relaxed, his hands loose around the knives. But when I catch sight of his face—brows furrowed, jaw tight—my heart clenches. He meets my gaze, and for a breath, I see his anguish. He does not wish to deliver death to these men. But if they see us, they will alert the other guards down here, and we’ll be neck-deep in Empire soldiers. I squeeze Elias’s forearm. He slides his hood over his head and pulls a black kerchief up to hide his face. The soldier approaches, his footsteps heavy. I can smell him—sweat and iron and dirt. Elias’s grip on his knives tightens. His body is coiled like a wild­cat waiting to strike. I clamp a hand onto my armlet—a gift from my mother. Beneath my fingers, the armlet’s familiar pattern is a balm. The soldier reaches the edge of the crypt. He lifts his lantern— Suddenly, further down the tunnel, a thud echoes. The soldiers spin, draw steel, and hurry to investigate. In seconds, the light from their lantern fades, the sound of their footsteps fainter and fainter. Elias releases a pent breath. “Come on,” he says. “If that patrol was sweep­ing the area, there will be more. We need to get to the escape passage.” We emerge from the crypt, and a tremor rumbles through the tunnels, shaking dust loose and sending bones and skulls clattering to the ground. I stumble, and Elias grabs my shoulder, backing me into the wall and flat­tening himself beside me. The crypt remains intact, but the ceiling of the tunnel cracks ominously. “What in the skies was that?” “It felt like a land tremor.” Elias takes a step away from the wall and eyes the ceiling. “Except Serra doesn’t have land tremors.” We cut through the catacombs with new urgency. With every step I expect to hear another patrol, to see torches in the distance. When Elias stops, it is so sudden that I barrel into his broad back. We’ve entered a circular burial chamber with a low, domed ceiling. Two tunnels branch out ahead of us. Torches flicker in one, almost too far away to make out. Crypts pock the chamber walls, each guarded by a stone statue of an armored man. Beneath their helmets, skulls glare out at us. I shiver, stepping closer to Elias. But he does not look at the crypts, or the tunnels, or the distant torches. He stares at the little girl in the center of the chamber. She wears tattered clothing and her hand is pressed to a leaking wound in her side. Her fine features mark her as a Scholar, but when I try to see her eyes, she drops her head, dark hair falling into her face. Poor thing. Tears mark a path down her dirt-streaked cheeks. “Ten hells, it’s getting crowded down here,” Elias mutters. He takes a step toward the girl, hands out, as if dealing with a scared animal. “You shouldn’t be here, love.” His voice is gentle. “Are you alone?” She lets out a tiny sob. “Help me,” she whispers. “Let me see that cut. I can bandage it.” Elias drops to one knee so he’s at her level, the way my grandfather did with his youngest patients. She shies away from him and looks toward me. I step forward, my instincts urging caution. The girl watches. “Can you tell me your name, little one?” I ask. “Help me,” she repeats. Something about the way she avoids my eyes makes my skin prickle. But then, she’s been ill-treated—likely by the Empire— and now she faces a Martial who is armed to the roots of his hair. She must be terrified. The girl inches back, and I glance at the torch-lit tunnel. Torches mean we’re in Empire territory. It’s only a matter of time before soldiers happen by. “Elias.” I nod at the torches. “We do not have time. The soldiers—” “We can’t just leave her.” His guilt is plain as day. The deaths of his friends days ago in the Third Trial weigh on him; he doesn’t wish to cause another. And we will, if we leave the girl here alone to die of her wounds. “Do you have family in the city?” Elias asks her. “Do you need—” “Silver.” She tilts her head. “I need silver.” Elias’s eyebrows shoot up. I cannot blame him. It is not what I expected either. “Silver?” I say. “We don’t—” “Silver.” She shuffles sideways like a crab. I think I see the too-quick flash of an eye through her limp hair. Strange. “Coins. A weapon. Jewelry.” She glances at my neck, my ears, my wrists. With that look, she gives herself away. I stare at the tar-black orbs where her eyes should be, and scrabble for my dagger. But Elias is already in front of me, scims glimmering in his hands. “Back away,” he snarls at the girl, every inch a Mask. “Help me.” The girl lets her hair fall into her face once more and puts her hands behind her back, a twisted caricature of a wheedling child. “Help.” At my clear disgust, her lips curl in a sneer that looks obscene on her otherwise sweet face. She growls—the guttural sound I heard earlier. This is what I sensed watching us. This is the presence I felt in the tunnels. “I know you have silver.” A rabid hunger underlies the creature’s little-girl voice. “Give it to me. I need it.” “Get away from us,” Elias says. “Before I take off your head.” The girl—or whatever it is—ignores Elias and fixes her eyes on me. “You don’t need it, little human. I’ll give you something in return. Something wonderful.” “What are you?” I whisper. She whips her arms out, her hands gleaming with a strange viridescence. Elias flies toward her, but she evades him and fastens her fingers on my wrist. I scream, and my arm glows for less than a second before she is flung back­ward, howling, clutching her hand as if it is on fire. Elias pulls me to my feet from the dirt where I am sprawled, pitching a dagger at the girl at the same time. She dodges it, still shrieking. “Tricky girl!” She darts away as Elias lunges for her again, her eyes only for me. “Sly one! You ask what am I, but what are you?” Elias swings at her, sliding one of his scims across her neck. He’s not fast enough. “Murderer!” She whirls on him. “Killer! Death himself! Reaper walking! If your sins were blood, child, you would drown in a river of your own making.” Elias reels back, shock etched into his eyes. Light flickers in the tunnel. Three torches bob swiftly toward us. “Soldiers coming.” The creature whirls to face me. “I’ll kill them for you, honey-eyed girl. Lay their throats open. I already led away the others following you, back in the tunnel. I’ll do it again. If you give me your silver. He wants it. He’ll reward us if we bring it to him.” Who in the skies is he? I don’t ask, only bring up my dagger in response. “Stupid human!” The girl clenches her fists. “He’ll get it from you. He’ll find a way.” She turns toward the tunnel. “Elias Veturius!” I flinch. Her scream is so loud they probably heard her in Antium. “Elias Vetu—” Her words die as Elias’s scim rips through her heart. “Efrit, efrit of the cave,” he says. Her body slides off the weapon and lands with a solid thump, like a boulder falling. “Likes the dark but fears the blade. “Old rhyme.” He sheathes his scim. “Never realized how handy it was until recently.” Elias grabs my hand, and we bolt into the unlit tunnel. Maybe through some miracle, the soldiers didn’t hear the girl. Maybe they didn’t see us. Maybe, maybe— No such luck. I hear a shout and the thunder of bootsteps behind us.     II: Elias Three auxes and four legionnaires, fifteen yards behind us. As I race ahead, I whip my head around to gauge their progress. Make that six auxes, five legionnaires, and twelve yards. More of the Empire’s soldiers will pour into the catacombs with every second that passes. By now, a runner has carried the message to neighboring patrols, and the drums will spread the alert throughout Serra: Elias Veturius spotted in the tunnels. All squads respond. The soldiers don’t need to be sure of my identity; they will hunt us down regardless. I take a sharp left down a side tunnel, pulling Laia with me, my mind careening from thought to thought. Shake them off quickly, while you still can. Otherwise . . . No, the Mask within hisses. Stop and kill them. Only eleven of them. Easy. Could do it with your eyes closed. I should have killed the efrit in the burial chamber straightaway. Helene would scoff if she knew I’d tried to help the creature instead of recognizing it for what it was. Helene. I’d bet my blades she’s in an interrogation room by now. Marcus—or Emperor Marcus, as he’s now called—ordered her to execute me. She failed. Worse, she was my closest confidante for fourteen years. Neither of those sins will come without cost—not now that Marcus possesses absolute power. She will suffer at his hands. Because of me. I hear the efrit again. Reaper walking! Memories of the Third Trial jolt through my head. Tristas dying upon Dex’s sword. Demetrius falling. Leander falling. A shout from ahead returns me to myself. The field of battle is my temple. My grandfather’s old mantra comes back to me when I need it most. The swordpoint is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release. Beside me, Laia pants, her body dragging. She is slowing me down. You could leave her, an insidious voice whispers. You’d move faster on your own. I crush the voice. Besides the obvious fact that I promised to help her in exchange for my freedom, I know that she’ll do anything to get to Kauf Prison—to her brother—including trying to make her way there alone. In which case, she’d die. “Faster, Laia,” I say. “They’re too close.” She surges forward. Walls of skulls, bones, crypts, and spiderwebs fade away on either side of us. We’re far south of where we should be. We’ve long since passed the escape tunnel in which I hid weeks’ worth of supplies. The catacombs rumble and shake, knocking both of us down. The stench of fire and death filters through a sewer grate directly above us. Moments later, an explosion rips through the air. I don’t bother considering what it could be. All that matters is that the soldiers behind us have slowed, as wary of the unstable tunnels as we are. I use the opportunity to put another few dozen yards between us. I cut right into a side tunnel and then retreat into the deep shadow of a half-crumbled alcove. “Will they find us, do you think?” Laia whispers. “Hopefully no—” Light flares from the direction we were headed, and I hear the staccato clomp of boots. Two soldiers turn into the tunnel, their torches illuminating us clearly. They halt for a second, bewildered, perhaps, by the presence of Laia, by my lack of a mask. Then they spot my armor and scims, and one of them releases a piercing whistle that will draw in every soldier who can hear it. My body takes over. Before either of the soldiers can unsheathe their swords, I’ve impaled throwing knives into the soft flesh of their throats. They drop silently, their torches sputtering on the damp catacomb floor. Laia emerges from the alcove, her hand over her mouth. “E-Elias—” I lunge back to the alcove, pulling her with me and loosening my scims in their scabbards. I have four throwing knives left. Not enough. “I’ll take out as many as I can,” I say. “Stay out of the way. No matter how bad it looks, don’t interfere, don’t try to help.” The last word leaves my lips as the soldiers who were following us come into view from the tunnel to our left. Five yards away. Four. In my mind, the knives have already flown, already found their marks. I burst from the alcove and let them loose. The first four legionnaires go down quietly, one after the other, as easy as scything grain. The fifth drops with a sweep of my scim. Warm blood sprays, and I feel my bile rising. Don’t think. Don’t dwell. Just clear the way. Six auxes appear behind the first five. One jumps onto my back, and I dis­patch him with an elbow to his face. A moment later, another soldier rushes me. When he gets a knee to the teeth, he howls and claws at his broken nose and bloody mouth. Spin, kick, sidestep, strike. Behind me, Laia screams. An aux hauls her out of the alcove by her neck and holds a knife to her throat. His leer turns into a howl. Laia’s shoved a dagger into his side. She yanks it out, and he staggers away. I turn on the last three soldiers. They flee. In seconds, I collect my knives. Laia’s whole body shakes as she takes in the carnage around us: Seven dead. Three injured, moaning and trying to rise. When she looks at me, her eyes grow round in shock at my bloodied scims and armor. Shame floods me, so potent that I wish I could sink into the ground. She sees me now, down to the wretched truth at my core. Murderer! Death himself! “Laia—” I begin, but a low groan rolls down the tunnel, and the ground trembles. Through the sewer grates I hear screams, shouts, and the deafening reverberation of an enormous explosion. “What in the hells—” “It’s the Scholar Resistance,” Laia shouts over the noise. “They’re revolting!” I don’t get to ask how she happens to know this fascinating tidbit, because at that moment, telltale silver flashes from the tunnel to our left. “Skies, Elias!” Laia’s voice is choked, her eyes wide. One of the Masks approaching is enormous, older than me by a dozen years and unfamiliar. The other is a small, almost diminutive figure. The calmness of her masked face belies the chilling rage that emanates from her. My mother. The Commandant. Boots thunder from our right as whistles draw even more soldiers. Trapped. The tunnel groans again. “Get behind me,” I snap at Laia. She doesn’t hear. “Laia, damn it, get— ooof—” Laia dives straight into my stomach, a graceless, desperate leap so unex­pected that I topple back into one of the wall crypts. I punch straight through the thick cobwebbing over the crypt and land on my back atop a stone coffin. Laia’s half on top of me, half wedged between the coffin and the crypt wall. The combination of cobwebs, crypt, and warm girl throws me, and I’m barely even capable of stuttering, “Are you cra—” BOOM. The ceiling of the tunnel we were just standing in collapses all at once, a thunderous rumble intensified by the roar of explosions from the city. I flip Laia under me, my arms on either side of her head to shield her from the blast. But it is the crypt that saves us. We cough from the wave of dust unleashed by the explosions, and I’m keenly aware that if not for Laia’s quick thinking, we’d both be dead. The rumbling stops, and sunlight cuts through the dust. Screams echo from the city. Carefully, I lift myself away from Laia and turn toward the crypt entrance, which is half-blocked by chunks of rock. I peer out into what’s left of the tunnel. Which isn’t much. The cave-in is complete—not a Mask to be seen. I scramble out of the crypt, half dragging, half carrying a still-coughing Laia over the debris. Dust and blood—not hers, I affirm—streak her face, and she paws at her canteen. I put it to her lips. After a few swallows, she pulls herself standing. “I can—I can walk.” Rocks obstruct the tunnel to our left, but a mailed hand shoves them away. The Commandant’s gray eyes and blonde hair flash through the dust. “Come on.” I pull up my collar to hide the Blackcliff diamond tattoo on the back of my neck. We clamber out of the ruined catacombs and into the cacophonous streets of Serra. Ten bleeding hells. No one appears to have noticed the collapse of the street into the crypts—everyone is too busy staring at a column of fire rising into the hot blue sky: the governor’s mansion, lit up like a Barbarian funeral pyre. Around its blackening gates and in the immense square in front of it, dozens of Martial soldiers are locked in a pitched battle with hundreds of rebels dressed in black—Scholar Resistance fighters. “This way!” I angle away from the governor’s mansion, knocking down two approaching rebel fighters as I go, and aim for the next street over. But fire rages there, spreading rapidly, and bodies litter the ground. I grab Laia’s hand and race toward another side street, only to find that it is as brutalized as the first. Above the clang of weapons, the screams, and the roar of flames, Serra’s drum towers beat frenziedly, demanding backup troops in the Illustrian Quarter, the Foreign Quarter, the Weapons Quarter. Another tower reports my location near the governor’s mansion, ordering all available troops to join the hunt. Just past the mansion, a pale blonde head emerges from the debris of the collapsed tunnel. Damn it. We stand near the middle of the square, beside an ash-coated fountain of a rearing horse. I back Laia against it and duck, desperately searching for an escape route before the Commandant or one of the Martials spots us. But it seems as if every building and every street adjoin­ing the square is aflame. Look harder! Any second now, the Commandant will dive into the fray in the square, using her terrifying skill to tear a path through the battle so she can find us. I look back at her as she shakes the dust off her armor, unmoved by the chaos. Her serenity raises the hair on the back of my neck. Her school is destroyed, her son and foe escaped, the city an absolute disaster. And yet she is remarkably calm about it all. “There!” Laia grabs my arm and points to an alley hidden behind an over­turned vendor’s cart. We crouch down and race toward it, and I thank the skies for the tumult that keeps Scholars and Martials alike from noticing us. In minutes, we reach the alley, and as we’re about to plunge into it, I chance a look back—once, just to make sure she hasn’t seen us. I search the chaos—through a knot of Resistance fighters descending on a pair of legionnaires, past a Mask fighting off ten rebels at once, to the rubble of the tunnel, where my mother stands. An old Scholar slave trying to escape the havoc makes the mistake of crossing her path. She plunges her scim into his heart with a casual brutality. When she yanks the blade out, she doesn’t look at the slave. Instead, she stares at me. As if we are connected, as if she knows my every thought, her gaze slices across the square. She smiles.

Editorial Reviews

Named one of the best books of the year by: TIMEEntertainment Weekly  BuzzfeedAmazonPopSugarBustlePaste MagazinePopCrushPraise for A Torch Against the Night:“The stakes here are high and the plot runs like a well-oiled machine, ratcheting up the tension with every chapter.” —NPR.org“An adrenaline rush till the very last page.” —Buzzfeed   “The sequel to Tahir’s bestselling smash An Ember in the Ashes finally comes out in August, and let me tell you, it does not disappoint.” —Book Riot   “A Torch Against the Night is an unabashed page-turner that scarcely ever pauses for breath.” —The Christian Science Monitor   “Fast-paced, exciting and full of adrenaline, A Torch Against The Night is everything fans of Tahir’s debut could possibly anticipate in a sequel.” —The Bucks County Courier Times“Thrilling…Tahir meticulously plots these novels, ramping up the suspense and including plenty of surprises.” —The Buffalo News“Delivers in every way...The stakes have never been higher, and the tension is acutely felt as Elias and Laia run for their lives.” —USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog   “At last, it’s here...It’s as heartbreaking as it is action-packed, delivering a worthy second installment in Tahir’s bestselling series.” —Paste“Tahir proves to be a master of suspense and a canny practitioner of the cliffhanger, riveting readers’ attention throughout.…[An] action-packed, breathlessly paced story.” —Booklist, starred review"This sequel has a darker tone and even higher stakes than its predecessor, setting the stage for a thrilling conclusion." —Publishers Weekly, starred review"Excellent." —Kirkus Reviews"The rare sequel that improves on the original...unputdownable." —Common Sense Media (Five Stars)Praise for An Ember in the Ashes:“This novel is a harrowing, haunting reminder of what it means to be human — and how hope might be kindled in the midst of oppression and fear.” —The Washington Post“An Ember in the Ashes could launch Sabaa Tahir into JK Rowling territory…It has the addictive quality of The Hunger Games combined with the fantasy of Harry Potter and the brutality of Game of Thrones.”—Public Radio International"An Ember in the Ashes glows, burns, and smolders—as beautiful and radiant as it is searing."—Huffington Post “[An Ember in the Ashes] thrusts its readers into a world marred by violence and oppression, yet does so with simple prose that can offer moments of loveliness in its clarity. This complexity makes Ember a worthy novel—and one as brave as its characters.” —The New York Times Book Review “Sabaa Tahir spins a captivating, heart-pounding fantasy.” —Us Weekly“An Ember in the Ashes mixes The Hunger Games with Game of Thrones...and adds a dash of Romeo and Juliet.” —The Hollywood Reporter“Blew me away...This book is dark, complex, vivid, and romantic—expect to be completely transported.” —MTV.com“Fast-paced, well-structured and full of twists and turns, An Ember in the Ashes is an evocative debut that has left me invested in knowing what happens next.” —NPR “Once you get caught up in the story, it’s addictive, and there’s no way you can put it down before you figure out what happens to the characters you have fallen for over the course of the 400 some-odd pages. So I didn’t.” —Bustle  “This epic fantasy set in the Martial Empire has it all: danger and violence, secrets and lies, strong characters and forbidden romance and a touch of the supernatural.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution “A setting inspired by ancient Rome; a fierce battle for freedom in the face of tyranny; and a villain who makes Cersei Lannister and Dolores Umbridge look like a pair of pathetic amateurs...An Ember in the Ashes is at the top of our must-read list for 2015.” —MTV.com“Be prepared to be blown away by this fantasy-thriller-adventure.” —Girls’ Life“An Ember in the Ashes is a book that's too good to put down.” —RedEye “Perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races or Sarah Maas's Throne of Glass series…The book is already set to be a film, which will be EPIC!” —TeenVogue.com* “Tahir’s deft, polished debut alternates between two very different perspectives on the same brutal world, deepening both in the contrast. In a tale brimming with political intrigue and haunted by supernatural forces, the true tension comes from watching Elias and Laia struggle to decide where their loyalties lie.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review “Tahir’s world-building is wonderfully detailed and the setting is an unusual one for fantasy novels. All of her characters, even minor ones, are fully realized....For fans of Game of Thrones and of Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock.” —School Library Journal “An original, well-constructed fantasy world...truly engaging.” —Kirkus Reviews  “An epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.” —Hypable.com“First-time novelist Tahir has written an ambitious sword-and-sand adventure story that is notable for its suspense and scope.” —Booklist  “Here's one of the year's most anticipated young-adult debuts.” —io9.com“I was so engrossed with this book that I missed a connecting flight. If that doesn’t convince you to read An Ember in the Ashes, I don’t know what will. An explosive, heartbreaking, epic debut that will keep you glued to the pages. I hope the world’s ready for Sabaa Tahir.” —Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of Legend “With An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir shows us light in the darkness, hope in a world of despair, and the human spirit reaching for greatness in difficult times.” —#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson “An Ember in the Ashes is a spectacular page turner that asks readers to consider how far they’d go to save the ones they love. Sabaa Tahir is the next superstar in young adult fiction and her debut is as cinematic as Gladiator and as high-stakes as Game of Thrones.”—Holly Goldberg Sloan, New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s “A heart-pounding story of love and loss, with the most original world-building I’ve read all year. Deeply felt and deeply moving, I could not put it down.” —Margaret Stohl, New York Times bestselling co-author of Beautiful Creatures “This electric debut is a pulse-pounding action-packed Romeo and Juliet story in a richly imagined world with a great twist and heroic characters you’ll root for and won’t stop thinking about.” —Melissa de la Cruz, New York Times bestselling author of Frozen and The Ring and the Crown