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Publisher's Summary

"Thrilling and hard to put down, readers will absolutely devour Tahir's latest." (BuzzFeed)

An Entertainment Weekly Summer Reads pick!

"The perfect summer read." (The Washington Post)

The highly anticipated third book in number one New York Times best-selling author Sabaa Tahir's Ember Quartet.

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. But she knows that 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 the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court but in stopping the Nightbringer. But in 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. But 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.

©2018 Sabaa Tahir (P)2018 Listening Library

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    182
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    65
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    12
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    8

Performance

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    105
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    23
  • 2 Stars
    6
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Story

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    22
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

It was okay

The performances were excellent. I enjoyed the first two books more. I was not drawn to Elias’s storyline at all. I found Laia’s and Helene’s storyline more interesting. I look forward to the final book and hope it is better.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Meh

The voice performances as always are stellar. While I am not a fan of Laia’s character (not in the slightest) Fiona Hardingham did a fantastic job as well as the other cast members. It is a rarity to find such a well acted audiobook with a full cast and this does not disappoint. I’d recommend binge listening to the series just on account of how entertaining the performances are.

Now the story on the other hand...

I feel it takes a very talented writer to make you love every character in a multiple P.O.V. story. For me I adored Helene’s chapters as I found they were the most mature and I found her journey of trying to navigate the politics and trying to protect her sister the most entertaining. I’m sorry but I just can’t get behind the insta love between Elias and Laia which lessens both their stories for me. Like Elias goes on and on about how he wants Laia and finds her so attractive and is putting everyone in jeopardy because he just lovvvvves Laia. Seriously? This man was raised to be a ruthless killer but this one girl is enough for him to (spoilers) give up his humanity? That brings me to Laia...oh boy. Her self pitying and just immaturity is just so incredibly annoying. Every time she whines about her not being strong enough or complains about her naivety I just find myself rolling my eyes. I don’t know Sabaa Tahir’s background but she puts a lot of emphasis on trying to convince you Laia is a strong compassionate woman who we should admire but it frankly fails and makes her come off as a childish Mary Sue. Now I don’t believe all women must be super strong stoic warriors to be badasses like Helene, but Helene is just so much more compelling than Laia and it honestly bugs me. However all the characters from this novel suffer from SEVERE naivety. It’s almost insufferable how the audience will know something as it’s so obvious but the characters will be oblivious to it.

That being said this book does offer an amazing final quarter battle that cemented my love for Helene. The secondary characters are also very entertaining (Musa was the only thing that saved Laia’s chapters for me). Tahir also creates a very well fleshed our world.

All in all I’d say this series has just been a disappointment for me personally as I expected so much more from it. I’ve waited two years in the hopes we’d have an epic no stop heart pounding novel and instead got two idiots pining over each other and characters and dense as a brick wall. I will still continue with the finale but only due to how stellar this cast is.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • JVV
  • BEDFORD, NH, US
  • 07-04-18

A bit all over the place

This was a step down from the previous two books. This book seems like a mixture of many storylines thrown together with no real order.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great story, not much happiness

Storyline was engaging, narrators are fantastic, and character development was as good as I've ever seen. However, I can't help but wonder if the author had the most miserable upbringing imaginable, without a moment's happiness. It's traditional to weave in happy, upbeat segments into a story with so much angst, struggle, difficulty, death, and suffering. This series has basically nothing happy about it. But if you love an epic struggle with lots of the above elements, this series is for you!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping and intriguing

Sometimes the accents of the narrators made the voices they did sound a bit weird? But overall it wasn't like crazy distracting or anything.

The narration pace was perfectly done for whatever the situation was that the character was going through. I also really loved how each moment and chapter really brought who the character was into a brighter relief; I knew who they were by the end of the book, like Helene learning people's songs.

All the symbolism with names so so intricate and masterfully done! The foundation of the heavy meaning ws laid in the first book where we heard that the Night Bringer didn't have a name before, but once such tragedy struck, he found a reason to name himself. Other similar pieces were sprinkled in more and more increasingly.
The Commandant is only referred to by her given name by a superior, those who do not need to show her the respect and fear, such as the Blood Shrike, the Emperor, and her father.
I loved how Cook said her old name doesn't matter because that's not who she is anymore- now she is Cook.
Helene's chapters were narrated by Blood Shrike, not Helene because once one becomes Blood Shrike, that commitment to the Empire is more important than who they were before. She even must remind her loved ones that she is Blood Shrike now.
The symbolism with the names really compliments the elements of knowing someone's story in order to understand them, since, as we learned with the Night Bringer, one's name is tied to who they were. It was so subtle at first and it wove together so beautifully- I'm really excited to see how these elements progress in the next book!

Exploring Helene's songs was so interesting! I loved watching her battle between serving her people the way she always thought was right (as a soldier, as Blood Shrike) and her longing to heal. I wish we could understand the impact of what her healing does to people better, since she said that she feels connected to Laia when she saw her again, but that hasn't been looked into yet.
I loved seeing her with her friends and their trust in each other. Helene's unyielding dedication to duty is so interesting when put in context of her loved ones. I'm really hoping Helene and Avitas can find a way to realize their love for each other.

I loved how Elias' compassion and humanity had to be shifted to the ghosts for him to succeed as the Soul-Catcher, instead of being so consumed with worry for the humans, especially his loved ones. Seeing his struggle to give up his ties to the mortal world was so riveting- especially as he and Mauth battled each other for what they thought was most important. Elias finally, irrevocably merging with Mauth, and finally understanding him as well as the rest of the jin, was so rewarding and heartbreaking.

I loved that Laia was finally being more proactive in her quest to help the Scholars instead of berating herself constantly for her mistakes. In the last two books, Laia fixated so heavily on her failures that it was getting unbearable. Seeing her take a stand against Cook to help the Scholars flee was so gratifying.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

SSRI needed

I have loved this series until this book. It is one depressing chapter after another. I can’t even remember one happy moment. Even stunningly beautiful reading performance is muted by constant melancholy. Every reader needs some reason or hope to press on, abandon all hope when reading this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

So, so good!

If you're a fan of the two previous books you will not be disappointed by this third one either. I'm just feeling sad about having to wait another year for the rest of the story to come out in book 4 some time in 2019!

Sabaa Tahir is an excellent storyteller. Her characters are complex and evolving, and have interesting individual story arcs in addition to the overall story.

Unlike many other YA book series, this story does not fall into the trap of focusing too much on romance. There is just enough of it, but it is not the sole purpose/driving force behind the character's choices. Thank the skies!

All the narrators are really good and they are giving extra layers to the story.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Worth the wait!

I've been waiting for this book so long I started it the moment my pre-order was available....but had to stop a few chapters in to go back and listen to the first two books in the series again so I could remember all the nuances and depth of character Tahir weaves into her stories.

End result, an even better experience that has me anxiously awaiting book 4!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb!

Great narration for all characters! Amazing and surprising storyline! Can't wait for the epic conclusion.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Come on!!

I loved the first two books in this series, and as I was listening to this last one I am extremely frustrated. No one is finding love... it’s like your about to climate and then cold ice.

I just needed more happiness... I found myself getting bored and needing something. The last few chapters were the best of the book!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Deleata
  • 10-04-18

A reaper at the gates

Absolutely amazing book, loved it! Just want to point out that the voice actors have changed from the last one - they're just as good but it takes a while to get used to.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lori
  • 08-19-18

Reaper at the Gates

wonderful read. the last 25 chapters were grippingly amazing and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end !

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • K N
  • 06-27-18

Terrible performance, average story

STORY (3/5): 'A Reaper At The Gates' definitely ups the stakes and introduces some interesting character transformations and chemistry, but falls prey to the same issues that plagued its predecessors. The characters lack original voices, which is to say everyone sounds like everyone else. The plot is muddled and complicated beyond reason. However, it manages to pack enough tension and intrigue into its final chapters that I'm compelled to keep reading.

NARRATION (1/5): Just when I thought the previous books in the series had the worst performances, 'A Reaper at the Gates' managed to surprise me with something worse. The narrators pronounce names nothing like the ones before them, and they even pronounce them differently at different points in the book. The book already suffers from a lack of distinct character-voices, and the performers add to the confusion by sounding the same, no matter who is speaking - be it hero or villain, a man or a woman, a young person or an old one.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-14-18

my soul...

What an amazing but also heart wrenching book. Sabaa Tahir never ceases to amaze me with the depth and detail she puts into all her work.
Someone find me a man as loyal as Harper please and thank you.