Reaper at the Gates Review


Writing Style/Quality: 3
Plot: 2
Characters & their development: 4
Originality: 3
Pacing: 2
Personal enjoyment: 3
Final rating: 3
I liked
-the character development
-the strong ending

I disliked
-info dumpy start
-nothing to draw you into the first half of the book
-felt like a filler book



Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

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 while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid 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 will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.



My thoughts on this book are mixed and muddled.  Reaper at the gates is the third book in the Ember in the Ashes Quartet. It picks up after A Torch against the night, and continues to show us the lives of Elias, Helene and Laia. We watch as their lives intermix and how the looming war effects them all.

Personally, I really enjoyed the first two books in this series. They were fast paced and well written. And I can see that Sabaa still has the ability to write like that, as the second half of the book really came to life. But that doesn’t contrast well with the first half that felt slow and pointless. So let’s talk about what I liked and didn’t like

I enjoyed the character development. We see Laia really grow into her role as the sort of figure head of the scholar rebellion. She goes through a lot of trauma in this novel too, which pushes her to be a better person. We see Elias recede in his character as he finally succumbs to… something. Which was interesting to witness. And Helene grows into herself in a really beautiful way. So the characters satisfied me, because they felt just as alive as in the other novels.

However, the first half of the book really lacked in, well everything. For the first 200 pages we are just fed info dump after info dump, and not given a reason to truly care for the characters again. It’s been a year since A Torch Against The Night was released so of course most of us are not as in the moment with the book as we once were which the author needs to think about. The start just felt bland and like it was only there to push us to the end point where the story could line up for the finale.

But I did also like the ending, because it really does set us up for the finale. About 250 pages in, when there are only 200 pages left, I finally got sucked in the story and actually became reinvested in the characters. At that point, the story also picked up as the night king started to become more dark, and issues started arising for all of our characters. The last half was action packed and fun, I just wish the first half had been as good.

Sadly though, this book felt like a filler for the finale and to bridge it from the beginning. I know to a certain point, every second book is just a filler book, but this one really suffered from not being much more than that.

I’m not sure if I will be picking up the finale, it truly depends on how I’m feeling at the time, but this was a bit of a let down for me.


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