With three incredibly well-written books in the series, A Sky Beyond The Storm, I knew that the final book of the Ember Quarter by Sabaa Tahir had to be phenomenal. What I didn’t know what how Sabaa Tahir would exceed all of my high expectations with this epic finale.
Warning: this review is going to be more of a rant than a coherent review, because I honestly cannot believe one of my favorite YA fantasy series have come to an end.
The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.
At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.
Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory–or to an unimaginable doom.
And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life–and love–he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save–or destroy–all that he knows.
Ratings: 5 Out Of 5
Trigger Warnings: death, explicit murder, explicit violence, genocide (mentioned & explicit), torture, death of children, refugee crisis, mild sexual scenes (fade to black)
The review below contains spoliers from the previous three books, so I highly recommend you read those first.
~ Previous Books In The Ember Quartet Series ~
Before I start, I have to admit that this book is not perfect in any way, and just like the previous books in the series, A Sky Beyond The Storm has its flaws. But at the end of the day, when I reached the end of the book, I had that overwhelming sense of happiness mixed with heartbreak–the kind of feeling that you only get when you know you have finished an amazing story.
We’ll start with Helene and her arc, because in the previous three books, she was the character who had infuriated me the most. In the A Reaper At The Gates, we see Sabaa Tahir turn the table on Helene–as someone who never cared about the enslavement of the Scholars or the forcefull conquest of the Tribes, Helene is now forced to acknowledge and understand the cruelty her people had been inflicting for generations. With her own people suffering the invasion of the barbarians, and Helene’s own power being wrenched away from her, she has now finally understood what it means to be a refugee herself.
And what a relief it was to see her fight on the right side for once.
I loved how much she’d grown–she’s completely transformed from being the sweet but dangerously skilled soldier to being a cunning woman who will not stop at anything to protect her empire. I loved her interactions with Laia, and seeing the two woman finally see each other not just as allies but as equals was the moment I’d been waiting for the past three books.
Speaking of Laia, while I was glad to see her taking initiatives and being the fearless leader for the Scholars, I am not sure how I feel about her “role” in the prophecies foretold in the series. It was too convenient, and in many ways it undermined her relationship with the Nightbringer, which in my opinion was a very important element for the development of her character.
The same goes for Elias too. It was a bit disappointing to see my most favorite character running around in the same circles, but when he finally made his decision to choose Laia and humanity over all things, my heart melted. Elias is an absolute cinnamon roll, and I have always loved his endless compassion and respect towards all life, in every form.
I also really did not like the final unveiling of Keris’s past, the mystery behind her hatred and cruelty for the Scholars. No spoilers, but I have always been a bit uncomfortable about using rape as plot device, and I recognize that the entire Ember Quartet relies on the threat of rape to not just as a plot device but also to create the atmosphere of danger and risk for the main characters.
The plot was gripping, as always and every action scene was masterfully written. The death toll kept rising in this book, and it was heartwrenching to see the losses being suffered on both sides.
And by the end of the book, I was more than satisified by how everyone’s story were wrapped up. A lot of people may disagree, but I found the final resolution to be absolute perfection.
That being said, I was very disappointed by the magic system once again. I appreciate Sabaa Tahir’s attemps at trying to build the world of the Ember Quartet, but it was clumsily written and at times were much too convenient so that the plot could move forward.
Overall, A Sky Beyond The Storm is the perfect ending to a series that holds a very special and nostalgic place in my heart. I began this series five years ago, back in 2017, when I had just turned 20 and still didn’t know much about the world. In a strange way, I feel like I have grown up alongside Elias, Laia and Helene–that like them, I have also had to shed my innocence and naivete and transition from being a young adult to an adult.
So, yes. I am sad to say goodbye, but I am glad to see my favorite fictional characters come to the end of their journey, and ready to open a new happier chapter in their lives. It’s been one hell of an adventure.
Have you read this book? Share your thoughts in the comments below!