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REVIEW: A Reaper at The Gates by Sabaa Tahir

We begin our story with the Nightbringer remembering his wife, the queen. She feared what he might do if harm came to the ones that he loved, and she was right to. The nightbringer regrets hurting Laia of Serra even though he shouldn’t. Laia and her allies have been trying to rescue scholars by using her invisibilty. Elias, meanwhile, is not being the greatest soul catcher in the world. Shaeva tells him that he must let his human life go but finds that he cannot do so. Elias is captured by Helene who is seeking advice about his mother. He admits that the only way to defeat Keris Veturia, his mother, is to seek his grandfather and to learn more about her. Shaeva rescues him but later finds himself murdered by the nightbringer who goes into the waiting place. Shaeva delivers a prophecy upon his death.

The Nightbringer has only one remainin piece of the star to collect and then he can set the Jinn free. Laia swears that she will stop him so she must search for the beekeeper who will give her more information about the nightbringer and his past. When they arrive, they find that wanted posters of themselves hanging everywhere, so they must be careful. The scholar refugees are suffering because of them so, they turn themselves in but find themselves being rescued by none other than the Beekeeper, Musa. Laia’s reputation is spreading to her dismay and Musa wants her to lead the scholars into a rebellion but finds that she herself, is very reluctant to do so. She finds that whenever she now uses her ability of invisibility, she gets a vision of a woman alone in a room straight afterwards/

Elias visits the tribes but finds that his pull of the waiting places succumbs to him. He finds that the ghosts are trying to escape the waiting place. When he goes to the Jinn Grove, the jinn show him visions of the commandment. He returns to the forest border and finds that ghosts have escaped and that they have attacked a caravan nearby. Elias tries to intervene but finds himself very unsuccessful at doing so. Whilst he is gone, his cabin is burnt to the ground. This was his safe place, a sanctuary from the ghosts and now it is gone.

Helene is attacked and barely makes it out alive. Elias visits her in a dream and tells he to get up. She does so and is found by the nightbringer who helps her heal herself. Harper sees all of this and is shocked by this revelation. Elias also visits Laia in a dream but Mauth sends his arse back to the grove by possessing Laia. Mauth tells him that the jinn are deceiving him and to just let go of this humanity once and for all so that he can truly grab hold of his magic. Elias, fed up of this back and forth ask the Jinn their story, they tell him that they were the original soul catchers. That they were the fire that passed on the spirits from the waiting place. They were ruled by the nightbringer and who was peaceful until the scholar mortals tricked Shaeva, the nightbringers body guard into handing their magic over and enslaved them to the grove. The humans then killed the Jinn children. Elias will never be able to fully harness the power of the soul catcher like the jinn were once able to.

Laia learns that Musa is a consort to the Princess of Adisa. Though he is not in her good graces right now. The King agrees to aid them but the princess stops them on the way out of the city and Laia is the only one to escape and must stop the nightbringer. Laia goes to the waiting place and whilst in the Jinn grove, the jinn show her that the woman in her visions is her mother. Her mother, father and sister were being tortured and as a mercy, she killed her father and sister. Laia’s mother is the scar faced cook that was mentioned in the novel earlier. Elias has to free Laia from the Jinn grove but when he finally gets her out and tells her that they will be together, the ghosts escape the forest.

After the escape, Laia enters the capitol to take the piece of the star from Helene that the Nightbringer needs. Her mother finds her and helps her out. They believe that the star is probably one of Helene’s rings. Elias realises that the ghosts are attracted to the Antium and heads there and finds Laia and Cook.

Mauth finally takes over Elias and forces him to take responsibility and put off his humanity. Livia goes into labour and Laia as a trained nurse uses this as a way to get close to Helene and steal her ring. Laia learns that the ring was not the piece of the star that the nightbringer needs and gloats about it to Laia who is livid. Elias and Mauth tell Laia that the jinn need to be released in order to return balance to the worlds and so he will not help her stop the nightbringer anymore. Laia finds Helen who is about to be swarmed by the commandment and so Laia and cook get her safety and in doing so, Cook sacrifices herself to allow them time to escape.

When Elias and Laia meet up, it is revealed that he is no longer Elias but is now the soul catcher. The nightbringer completes the star and takes it to the jinn grove and the jinn are released into the world. Cain and the other augurs are revealed to be the people that defeated and stole the jinns magic long ago and have used their magic ever since. The nightbringer knowing this, only allows Cain to live and tells him that eventually all the scholars will be wiped out and now the Jinn will claim their vengeance on mankind.

This book, like the rest of the Ember in the Ashes series, is one that is truly amazing. Unfortunately for me, it had been a long time since I had read the previous two and so it took some reminding about the plotline but once I got back into the flow of the story, I absolutely loved it. Sabaa Tahir truly knows how to weave an amazing tale. The Nightbringer is a true big bad that has a motive and sticks to his plans no matter what. Elias’ transformation into the soul catcher was something that I was looking forward to even if it was heartbreaking to see him reject his humanity but I do wonder what this means for the next book. I can’t wait.

4 out of 5 stars.


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