Author: Sabaa Tahir
Edition: Hardcover, 464 Pages
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
A Spine that Shines? Yep!
“The Karkauns begin to scale the wall, brandishing their weapons as if they are possessed by demons of the hells. I draw my war hammer. And then I roar the attack.”
World-Building & Plot
I was so excited for A Reaper at the Gates, and it did not disappoint! There are many tension-filled action scenes. Sabaa truly demonstrates mastery of battle and combat scenes in this book. I was drawn in right from the raid at the beginning. Sabaa immediately places her characters in a tight spot.
Sabaa developes the world of the Empire even more in this installment. We get to see more of Antium and Navium, as well as other people groups who are in conflict with the Empire. After finishing the book, I could tell that Sabaa definitely invested a lot of time in making the story well-plotted. The story divisions are clear, and the tension, trials, and tribulations propel the plot forward. The Nightbringer’s chapters in the beginning and in the conclusion of the book complement each other extremely well.
Man, these characters truly suffer. I really feel for them, but I think their suffering is part of what makes them come alive.
Elias is still quite human at the beginning of the book, and he still struggles with killing people – even if they are his enemies. In addition, he now wrestles with his new duty as Soul Catcher, trying to pass ghosts through the Waiting Place, versus his love for other humans, including Laia. However, I was not as excited about Elias’s Soul Catcher parts. I had mixed feelings and sometimes thought that his parts felt slightly disconnected from the rest of the story. Then again, perhaps that is the point – to illustrate the intensity of his isolation. If so, I suppose those parts serve their purpose, but I still liked Elias better in the first book.
Helene is still as feisty as ever, fighting so hard to protect her sister and her people. I loved the developing romance between her and Harper! They’ve come a long way since Harper’s interrogation in the previous book. I’ll totally be rooting for them in the concluding book! However, it did trouble me slightly that the Blood Shrike would wander around late at night alone, knowing that she’s been weakened and that Keris is out to get her. But her braveness in the final chapters makes up for it.
Laia is also her fiery self, fighting to keep her loved ones safe. Her soul is just so full of goodness, one of her most-characteristic traits. She has a beautiful, all-consuming desire to save everyone she can. But she is slowly tinged by darkness after all that happens to her, and she is eventually motivated to become a reluctant leader.
The Commandant is just so evil! She is one of the most well-crafted fictional villains I’ve ever encountered! Her scheming keeps both Helene and readers on their toes. I’m looking forward to a big showdown in the fourth book.
Content warnings: This book does include violent content, perhaps not suitable for younger readers. There is physical abuse and battle gore. There is also some romantic content.
Overall, the story line of the first book in the series remains my favorite, but this third installment is still entertaining enough to warrant 5 stars from me. There are some plot twists in here that I did NOT see coming, and I really like it when books surprise me. I hope other readers will enjoy this as much as I did! Happy reading, everyone!