Tuesday, 12 January 2021

A Sky Beyond the Storm

A Sky Before the Storm is the final book in the Ember Quartet and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous books. If you haven't started this series, please check out my review of An Ember in the Ashes instead.

You are broken. But it is the broken things that are the sharpest. The deadliest. It is the broken things that are the most unexpected, and the most underestimated.

The jinn are free and Commandant Keris Veturia has declared herself Empress and allied with the brutal Karkauns. The Nightbringer still seeks vengeance for the wrong done to his people so long ago, an act that has led to the persecution of Laia's people for centuries. The Blood Shrike seeks to protect her sister and the real Emperor, just a baby, from assassination attempts. And with his memories of his friends gone, Elias is no more, as the Soul Catcher all he cares about are the ghosts.

Whilst I did like the actual ending, I was disappointed overall in this final instalment of what has been a great series. I don’t think it needed to be so long, with not much happening in the first half. It laboured the fact that the Soul Catcher was no longer Elias, long after the point where you knew he was lying to himself, the Shrike was unshrikelike and Laia’s main role appeared to be putting herself in the way of danger unnecessarily. Did Sabaa Tahir grow tired of the series? Maybe there is a reason that trilogies are more common that quartets.

Would that we all knew the cracked terrain of each other's broken hearts. Perhaps then, we would not be so cruel to those who walk this lonely world with us.

Maybe if you like fighting scenes, you’ll like the first half more, but I wanted them to hurry up and reunite so they could work out how to end the war, save the world, etc. About halfway things did improve; there is a tragic turning point, as well as Elias realising something is wrong in the Waiting Place, and maybe he needs to stop being a stubborn idiot and seek help. And finally Laia comes up with an idea.

I am not so sure about the passages from the Nightbringer’s point of view, trying to make us sympathise with him. It’s understandable that his original tragedy scarred him, it doesn’t really forgive the decades of slavery and planned genocide he brought forth. He goes on about having loved Laia, but it makes more sense if he tricked her, as it was surmised in the previous book.

I can’t really remember if the seeds were sown in the previous book for a romance between Helene and Harper, but it seemed a bit out of place and I didn’t feel an emotional connection. Considering what happens I would have expected to have more feels, but it didn’t come across as convincing.

War is like the sun. It burns away all the softness and leaves only the cracks.

However the ending, once I learned the Nightbringer’s plan was gripping, and I think that saved this book for me. That are there are some lovely lines of writing throughout.

Popsugar Reading Challenge: 24. A book by a Muslim American author

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