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An Ember in the Ashes #3

A Reaper at the Gates

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The highly anticipated third book in Sabaa Tahir's New York Times bestselling EMBER QUARTET.

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.

473 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 12, 2018

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About the author

Sabaa Tahir

27 books31.8k followers
**My apologies if I don't respond to emails or friend requests right away! Come find me on Twitter or Instagram @sabaatahir, or on my web site: www.sabaatahir.com

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

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5 stars
34,036 (41%)
4 stars
32,694 (39%)
3 stars
13,142 (15%)
2 stars
2,342 (2%)
1 star
518 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,918 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
June 21, 2018
“There are worse things than death,” I say. “Shall we learn about them together?”

4 1/2 stars. When it comes to heart-racing action scenes, I cannot think of another YA author who does it better than Sabaa Tahir. She plunges you into the chaos almost immediately and once again, for the third book in a row, she keeps the drama and bloodshed coming until the very end.

The ONLY reason I rated this book slightly lower than An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night is that I felt like Elias's perspective didn't contribute as much to this installment until close to the end, and some of his chapters felt like superfluous filler. But maybe it was that Laia's and Helene's (sorry, the Blood Shrike's) perspectives were just so damn good that Elias's ghostly wanderings paled in comparison.

If you've been enjoying this series up until now, there's no reason why your love shouldn't continue on with this book. The stakes keep getting higher and the war keeps getting bigger, leading to the kind of dramatic climax we would expect from this series. The body count is high, the reveals are exciting, and I am even more desperate for the next book than I was for this one.

Just when you think things can't possibly get any worse in A Reaper at the Gates, the delightfully evil Ms Tahir chuckles maniacally at her keyboard and - you guessed it - things get a whole lot worse.
I will sing you such a story—a story that was long untold. The story of a name and its meaning. Of how that name matters more than any other single word in existence. But I must prepare myself, for such stories are dragons drawn from a deep well in a dark place. Does one summon a dragon? No. One may only invite it and hope it emerges.

I'm not going to say too much about the story in case those reading this review haven't checked out the first two books yet. But I will say I like how the author created some more depth in a couple of the villainous characters in this book, turning them into fully-fleshed out human beings who are not just mindlessly evil (though they are still despicable). I also find the Nightbringer very interesting and I can't wait to read more about him.

Overall, it's a bloody, nasty book in a bloody, nasty series. It's filled with prophecy, creepy ghosts, and jinn seeking vengeance. There's romance, but not that much. And it seems to promise some very dark and terrible things to come. I can't wait!

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Profile Image for Warda.
1,154 reviews18.4k followers
September 8, 2018
Well, it seems like I’m in the major minority here.
Three books in and I’m still not attached to the characters. If any of them had died in this book, I would’ve shrugged it off.
Am I to blame? I don’t think so, since there barely was any backstory or development given to those characters.

Constant action, non-stop movement and not enough focus on our main characters. I had no option but to not form any attachment, since we weren’t given any breathing room for the plot to slow down and for it to shift to the characters.

Book One was great. It was gloriously fast paced and exciting and the plot kept me on the edge of my bed. I was on a high whilst reading it.

Book Two was where I was expecting some kind of development to come in to play. But yet again, I feel like we weren’t given any and the focus was still on the plot and these characters trying to navigate and fix the messed up world they lived in.

I made up excuses and thought, you know what? They’re on the run, these kids are at war, there just isn’t enough time for their history to be explored in detail, because it’s unrealistic to expect that. It’s war after all. Surely, Book Three will touch upon something though.

And it did. ‘A Reaper at the Gates’ gave me glimpses of backstory and history to SOME of the characters (which was BEAUTIFUL!) and how they ended up where they are now. Just a small glimpse into a FEW of them, before the plot took centre stage again.

At this point I couldn’t think of anymore excuses to give and just became fuckin’ annoyed that these characters had no substance and weren’t convincing in their power and magic at all.

HOW do you ignore Darin? WHY on fucks earth wasn’t he given any kind of focus after what he went through? Laia and her abilities weren’t expanded upon. She just has them apparently. And is a leader now. HOW? Her whole tone is so insecure. Helene is just shouting out orders and isn’t achieving anything with it or learning from her mistakes. And Elias and his new role. We weren’t walked through their magic, their training, their powers, and their fuckin’ abilities.

We’ve had plenty of the ‘now moments’ thrown in. But still, there were no layers to these characters that ultimately led to their root and shaped them as a person.

It was almost like ‘The Cruel Prince’ situation where everything was just more or less thrown at you and readers were expected to go with the flow, understand the world, the magic they possessed and form a bond though nothing substantial was provided. There was no form of structure to it all. Just random and it read messy to me.

I’m angry. And so bitter. Am I the only one that doesn’t see it? Because please, if there was character development and I have missed out on it somehow, I happily welcome you to point out my stupidity.
Profile Image for Christine Riccio.
Author 3 books101k followers
September 25, 2018
Devastating and excellent. Can't wait for the final installment! My full booktalk discussion is up on my youtube channel (polandbananasbooks). =)
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
259 reviews4,901 followers
October 14, 2018
Sabaa’s writing, characters, and storytelling deserves all the stars in the world. RTC!


Hey guys! So I'm seeing lots of turmoil in my feed but I thought I'd pop in. I'm not crazy about switching covers/etc in a series either, but before you go off on a huge tangent, go check out Sabaa's reasoning for the changes. My thoughts on the design/etc don't matter, and I happened to adore the old covers SO much, but this woman did a cool thing with her influence, and I'm so glad I know why! Link below :)


So all in all, you don't have to like the covers and you're totally entitled to your own opinions, but just be kind and respectful, please!

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Profile Image for Tharindu Dissanayake.
283 reviews506 followers
May 28, 2021
"Ghosts, it turns out, love to gossip."

I am so relieved! Considering what I had expected based on the first book, the second book -A Torch Against the Night- did not deliver the enjoyment I had hoped for, which left me feeling a little uneasy as to whether or not this series would work out for me. But A Reaper at the Gates fixed all that, bringing me back from the status of 'undecided' to 'likely fan'. I liked this way better than the second!

“Wights”—I raise my eyebrows—“are sweet?”

The main-plot picks up where we left things off with the second one, and the author introduces a Nightbringer's POV chapter to get things started (which was a nice change). After that, we're moving with our three POVs, except for the very last chapter where the Nightbringer returns to end things in style. The main complaint I had on this series (putting aside the present tense narrative) was regarding the villains. They were one dimensional - just pure evil. But at last, it has changed. A Reaper at the Gates delivers what I had been expecting from the villains in this series. Sure, there is even more death and destruction, but it is not as pointless as it was with the second one. The plot-lines of the three POVs are equally eventful, but I liked the Blood Shrike's one best here. And for the first time, it felt that Laia's thread is the least significant out of the three.

"Love. I sigh. Love is joy coupled with misery, elation bound to despair. It is a fire that beckons me gently and then burns when I get too close. I hate love. I yearn for it. And it drives me mad."

The pace of the story is also reduced to a much better level with this one. Tahir takes her time building up to the big ending, leaving no stone unturned. There is not lack of twists throughout the book, to keep the suspense in check. She's also giving more weight toward world building compared to the first two books, which is always nice. Even though I will never become a fan of this first person - present tense narrative, the immersiveness of the main plot made up for it, just like with the first book.

"Life is rarely so simple, Laia."
"Work with what you have, not what you want."

For me, A Reaper at the Gates is what brought this series home for me. For a penultimate book, it did everything right, by preparing an excellent atmosphere, while leaving enough room for unpredictable, mysterious possibilities for the final book. I hope the final book will deliver along the same lines, to bring the series to a great ending.

“I wish for you joy and a family that loves you, adventures that shape you, and true friends to have them with.”

The field of battle is my temple. The swordpoint is my priest.
The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.
Profile Image for Renée Ahdieh.
Author 28 books17.4k followers
March 18, 2018
whyyyyy, sabaa, whyyyyyyy???

(aside: mwahahahahahaha)

you know how they tell you that good things come to those who wait? i never bought into this school of thought bc i'm pretty much veruca salt when it comes to books. but, holy hell, is A REAPER AT THE GATES worth it. i was immediately drawn back into this darkly dangerous world and all its amazing characters. each POV is distinct and painstakingly wrought. the action is intense, and the angst made my heart hurt for days afterward. it's smart, sexy, and gut-wrenching. exactly what you've come to expect from the brilliance of sabaa tahir.

all i'm saying is that i need more. now. in veruca salt singing voice: DON'T CARE HOW, I WANT IT NOWWWWWWW.

Profile Image for Zemira Warner.
1,569 reviews1,040 followers
December 11, 2020
I hope Helene murders all the hateful peasants, rules the world and finds someone worthy of her greatness.

Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
December 19, 2018
it is with a heavy heart and sorrowful soul that i have to rate this book anything lower than 5 stars (i actually may change and round up because a 3 feels sooo harsh at the moment), because this series has been absolutely stellar up until this point.

i get that a story is meant to have opposition. a character grows and develops through it and because of it. without opposition, there would be no resolution. but i also feel that it is important for a character to have hope and to have success along the way, some light at the end of tunnel to encourage a reader to continue reading and become invested. so when multiple characters are constantly struggling and failing at every turn, for nearly 500 pages, it gets sooo discouraging and annoying. not one single thing goes right in this story, causing to me to forever associate this book with the massive amounts of frustration and negativity i felt whilst reading this. which is never something you want with a book.

and because of that, this book only further confirms the nagging suspicions created by the second book that this story is going in a direction that i do not like, nor signed up for.‘an ember in the ashes’ is such an outstanding book, but this story feels sooo far from that little gem of brilliance and i am deeply saddened by that.

the writing is still top quality, the plot is action-packed and fast paced, and the characters are intriguing. so i have no doubts as to why so many love this book, but i personally cant get past the lack of hope and constant presence of frustration in this story. i will read the final book when its released because i have made it this far, but i very much doubt the conclusion will be as amazing as its beginning.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for emi.
446 reviews1,079 followers
Want to read
August 5, 2021
Me: Nothing can be worse than the Tower of Dawn cover

A Reaper at the Gates: *exists*


An Ember in the Ashes is one of my favorite series ever. I don't deserve this.
Profile Image for Andreea Pop.
320 reviews2,137 followers
Want to read
January 6, 2018
THIS COMES OUT THIS YEAR. Holy moly, time has passed rather quickly. But I'm still not happy about the cover style change. Hmph.

Meaningly, my torturous, never-ending wait. Because freaking 2018.
Profile Image for Alana.
665 reviews1,266 followers
August 19, 2018
It’s amazing how we willingly pay to be traumatized,  but honestly I’d do it all over again if I could. I have to say, there is no one in the writing game quite like Sabaa Tahir when it comes to opening up EVERY book with heart-pounding intensity. With that being said I was already terrified to start this book knowing that and also because, let's face it, Sabaa is also not the kindest to her characters. When I read the first 80 pages of this book I NOPED and put it down so fast not because it wasn't good, but because things were not going well for the characters and I knew it was about to get SO MUCH WORSE.

Spoiler alert: it did.

After almost a month of a hiatus from this I decided I just needed to rip the bandaid off and get it over with. So despite knowing that my heart was about to get stomped on I willingly dove myself back into the story of Laia, Elias, and Helene for the third time and I was not disappointed. Heartbroken and absolutely terrified for book four? YES. Disappointed? Never. I honestly don't think there is a word that can accurately describe how afraid I am for book four. I think after this book I may actually like Laia a little bit more. If you know me you know she and I never really connected and forget about me shipping her with Elias. It'll never happen. But nonetheless, I did find myself feeling something slightly other than nothing for Laia. Helene, on the other hand, oh how my heart bleeds for her. Some things will never change. She is my queen.

Anyway, I really struggle with writing reviews multiple books into a series because just about everything is a spoiler, so I'm going to keep this as simple and as vague as possible. Laia, Helene, and Elias are all doing their own thing. The Commandant is still being a selfish bitch. War is coming. People are dying left and right. Hearts are breaking. Necks are snapping. War is now here. The Nightbringer is trying to wreak havoc on the world. NOTHING IS OKAY. Yep, that's basically a summary of the book.

Three things I loved most about this book are:

1.Finding out Cook's backstory, if you know you're probably sobbing with me
2.Helene and Harper's slow burn romance?!?! SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY
3. The wild ending battle absolutely annihilated my hopes that this will have a happy ending but ya girl is still trying to gather the pieces of my shattered hopes and dreams. They might be slipping through my fingers, but I'll never give up on these characters, especially my queen.

Favorite Quotes

"Pain is a choice. Succumb to it and fail. Or defy it and Triumph.”

“Strange how monsters can reach from beyond the grave, as potent in death as they were in life.”

"Mercy, Blood Shrike. That is my order. I do not deserve it. I do not even wish it. But you'll give it to me anyway. Because you're good."

All in all, this book will take your heart on a treacherous journey of emotions and you will never be the same. But you still need this book in your life. If you haven't started this series I would HIGHLY recommend it and if you have started this series just know I'm sorry and you'll probably need a large dose of therapy by the time it's over!

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Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,281 followers
May 1, 2018
The immediacy of Tahir's writing remains spot-on, but the beautiful prose found in An Ember in the Ashes is absent in the third installment of the series. Too much of A Reaper at the Gates reads like filler, and the narrative lacks compelling focus with characters seemingly running in circles. The plot hinges on a reveal that's been blazing red since the first book in the series. The Nightbringer remains a tool used for narrative convenience, and Tahir's continued underutilization of one of the series' most pivotal characters [] is an unforgivable transgression.
Profile Image for ♥ℂĦℝΪՖƬΪℕÅ.
230 reviews3,933 followers
June 8, 2020
5 Sweet bleeding skies STAR'S

“The sword point is my priest. The dance of death is my prayer. The killing blow is my release.”

“Hope is stronger than fear. It is stronger than hate.”

Holly Mother!!! I don't even know what to say right now! I am completely speechless. 'A Reaper at the Gates' is utterly freaking brilliant! BRILLIANT! I was awestruck from beginning to end and I sure as hell didn't want to put it down. It's hypnotizing, once the pages started turning I couldn't stop. I have so many emotions swirling around right now. Sabaa Tahir has this way with her writing that makes the reader FEEL every emotion. The anger, the fear, the courage, the heartache and of course the love. And this has ALL the FEELS!!! It just pours into you and takes you on one hell of a journey. This book will NOT disappoint, it's very dark, dangerous and heart-stopping. From the writing to the plot, to the world-building all the way to the characters, everything is so captivating and completely addictive. I love the alternating POV's, they all connect together like a perfect puzzle piece. The character growth is confounding, with each new book, you discover whole new layers of who they are. I have grown deep attachments to these characters, even the bastards you wish death upon and when you finally get your wish you mourn their loss all the same. Not many authors can pull such a trick out of there hats. Everything was so well-paced and the battle scenes were devastating and thrilling all at once. This series is powerful and I never want it to end. A Reaper at the Gates ripped my heart wide open and made me cry and cry 😭😭! Oh, my poor beautiful Elias. I will not lose hope, for you are the most amazing of them all! Also, we discover Laia's mothers true identity and it's all just so damn sad! Laia and Helene are badass heroines and I can only imagine the unstoppable force they will be, being on the same side, for once. My excitement is bubbling over at the prospect 😁! I'm elated that we finally got to see more of the connection between Helene and Harper♥, now if Helene would get out of her own way :( Also, I love the character of Darin, Laia's brother and of course lets not forget the newcomer Musa. I really like him a lot and can't wait to know him more. I'm dying just thinking of the long wait I have ahead of me before I can read the next masterpiece in this series!

*Another stunning cover :D and that title couldn't be more perfect!*

“You are cruel, Elias,” she whispers against my mouth.
“To give a girl all she desires only to tear it away.”
“This isn't the end for us, Laia of Serra.” I cannot give up what we could have.
I don't care what bleeding vow I made. “Do you hear me? This is not our end.”
“You've never been a liar.” She dashes her hands against the wetness in her eyes.
“Don't start now.”

“What I feel for Elias is different, a flame I hold close to my heart when I feel my strength flagging. Sometimes, deep in the night as I travel, I picture a future with him. But I dare not look at too closely. How can I, When it can never be?”
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,797 followers
July 17, 2018
im trying to imagine how it would feel to finish a book and NOT BE WORRIED ABOUT THE FATE OF MY BABIES IN THE FINAL BOOK


4.5 stars

buddy read with this reading disaster machine


what the heck happened to the matching cover designs????

the title is 💯💯💯👌👌👌💯💯 but the cover is so OFF AND NOW IM SAD AND CONFUSED WHY DONT WE HAVE MATCHING COVERS!!!!

. . . also. . .is anyone gonna mention how gorgeous elias looks??!?!?!!
Profile Image for karen.
3,979 reviews170k followers
November 8, 2018
oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for best young adult fantasy 2018! what will happen?

this book is an inch-and-a-half thick and i was bored and shocked by my boredom until maybe the last quarter-inch.

i’d been looking forward to reading this tremendously, and when i finally carved out the space to get to it, i dove in like a fox in the snow

but my elation was dampened by the slog of it, and i got sadder and sadder as the book refused to be as awesome as the first two.

it’s very convoluted and full of all that capital-letter shit that YA series overdo:

The Martials wield their weapons of war with merciless efficiency. They want to break the Scholars. And if I don’t stop the Nightbringer - if I don’t find this “Beekeeper” in Adisa - they will.


also, i don’t personally care about romance subplots; what makes fans of that stuff swoon just makes me impatient for MORE BLOOD SHRIKING, but even helene's early parts (while by far the best of the three), were more hand-wringing and fact-gathering than wrathbringing.

eventually it picked up and things got really intense and gripping and the story progressed, but for so long it seemed like everyone was just looking at their watches, killing time. especially elias. seriously, dude, figure your shit out.

i’m not sure if it’s series fatigue on my part or on the author’s, but the last 1/4 of the book proves there’s still a story to be told and new hearts to break and as always, there’s a strong cliffhanger that makes me eager to see what comes next. i just hope it gets going from the very first inch next time. otherwise, i will be consumed.

come to my blog!!
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
662 reviews3,890 followers
April 14, 2019
“Curse this world for what it does to the mothers, for what it does to the daughters. Curse it for making us strong through loss and pain, our hearts torn from our chests again and again. Curse it for forcing us to endure.”

Look, I'm gonna do something a bit weird here and start with the negatives I REALLY, really enjoyed reading this book but at the same time I had some niggling little issues that I was waiting for some action on and it never came. I need to talk about them.

this is an excellent series in terms of characters. I love the main characters so much. Sabaa Tahir has meticulously worked on her characters individual arcs. The difference between Helene, Elias and especially Laia from the beginning of the series to where it is not is astounding. The best character work is so subtle you don't even notice it's happening and that is what Sabaa Tahir does every. single. time But with that being said, I feel like Sabaa Tahir underused some characters so badly here, and it was extremely disappointing. The climax that A Torch Against the Night ended on, and the anticipation for what she would do with THAT character, was completely killed when that character barely appeared in the book at all. I felt there was so much wasted potential and I was waiting for something that never happened to happen. The lack of payoff and that climax/cliffhanger pretty much going nowhere was so disappointing. A new character who was really interesting was introduced in this book, and I felt not enough was done with him either. On top of that, I really disliked Elias' story arc and where it's going. I just can't get invested in it. But despite my criticisms on character I still really, really loved Laia and Helene's storylines. I really liked the role Laia has stepped into and the political/military heavy nature of Helene's story arc.

My other criticism that I want to get out of the way ties into the above and that is the plot had no clear focus for the first half. The characters current motivations were a little bit unclear, and it felt like characters were just running around the Empire with no goals. The initial focus on making Serric steel was thrown completely out the window midway through. I felt I needed to be more grounded in the plot, especially in the middle section which was a little big wandering.

That being said, and that is ALL my negatives, the plot overall was really well constructed. The second half especially was explosive and gripping. Sabaa Tahir nails her endings every single time. There was a lot of things HAPPENING with the plot, which was something I really loved. Even though I felt a bit lost at times, I never felt bored, and in a YA fantasy hitting nearly 500 pages thats so important. I found this one way more entertaining than A Torch Against the Night.


One thing I totally loved about this was how much Sabaa Tahir has increased the scope of her world. we're taken to so many new places which I totally loved. I also loved the expansion of the politics with The Mariners and the Warlocks starting to play a larger role in the wars. Whilst the first and second book were quite contained, in this book we follow the characters across the span of the Empire with each view point taking place in a completely different location and I loved that.

I also loved how the worldbuilding was expanded and more mythology and information around the mythology was added. I loved that the jinn and other magical creatures are starting to play a much, much larger role.

“Love. I sigh. Love is joy coupled with misery, elation bound to despair. It is a fire that beckons me gently and then burns when I get too close. I hate love. I yearn for it. And it drives me mad.”

I continue to really love this series. Even though I had some issues that stopped me rating it 5 stars, I had so much fun reading this. I adore these characters so much. Laia especially is just incredible. She's such a freakin badass but she doesn't have to kickass to be that way. She's just really emotionally strong and persistent and determined and I think it makes her such an excellent heroine to follow. I think Sabaa Tahir does so many things right. The romance is spot on, the characters ares are perfect and the political intrigue is written perfectly. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, I am sure its going to end me.

tw: marital/spousal abuse, violence, mentions of rape, torture, murder of children
Profile Image for Beth.
704 reviews572 followers
July 2, 2022
Spoiler Free Review :)

”Pain is a choice. Succumb to it and fail. Or defy it and Triumph.”

Words cannot express how blissfully happy I am with this. I mean for me it was everything that I could of wanted. I was wondering where the story would go after A Torch Against the Night We got updates in what had happened throughout the time on the travels and nothing was left un-said. This time around there’s so much foreboding and it’s setting up the final book perfectly. We see characters grow from strength to strength and take on what they are set up to do, whether we like it or not. Not only this, but we see the cost it brings them, and with this you really see into each characters emotion throughout and that is what I love so much about this book in particular.

The build up throughout is nerve wracking, and I honestly got such a strong sense of The Lord of the Ringsand Battle of the Bastards (Game of Thrones) in regards to some of the action… that’s how on edge I was throughout. We’re introduced into new characters (who I love, I can’t deny it, I have a soft spot for Musa) and yet there are so many things left un-said with more questions arising!

”Hope is stronger than fear. It is stronger than hate.”


How do I even begin, the love I feel for these characters is on par with those of Clockwork Princess, and anyone who knows me… knows my love for them! So be prepared for a lot of gushing and me shouting to the rooftops my love for them. That is your warning…

Laia. How do I even begin to explain my love for her. I think out of all of the female characters I’ve read Laia is my ultimate queen. I love her relationship with Darin, and it really shows you a strong sense of sibling love. I think the bond they share is just so heartbreaking, she has to deal with a lot in this book, and how she handles it. I literally bow down to her. We see her face her emotions head on and grill I’m proud of her! Her strength and courage gives me everything.

My heart, Elias. His conundrum in this, my god. My heart literally cannot take it. I can’t cope with it. All he wants to do is protect the people he loves, and just keeps being pulled back to The Waiting Place, my boy needs a break! I need a break. I NEED HIS HAPPINESS! I can’t really say too much because I will end up blabbering everything. But know this, he is too precious for this world and I adore him!

You know… when a character you didn’t really like, slowly crawls into your mind and just plants themselves there and once they’re in, you can’t get rid of them, because you realise how much you now actually love them? Oh hello Helene. Her story has gone from strength to strength, and as Blood Shrike she’s just undeniably an amazing character. Once again we see her pushed to her limits. I love her ongoing dispute with Keris and how they’re both playing games with one another trying to best the other. Her loyalty is unfaltering and I just respect this so much! Also… I had such a moment. 3/4 of the way through I realised what is on the cover. It was literally palm to the face moment.

The Night Bringer OH MY GOD! I love characters like this, like when there’s someone you can truly dislike, but at the same time kind of link things together. It was so interesting to see him so much, and his plotting my god.

Special acknowledgements for; Harper, Musa, Darin and Livia. I know this is a bit of a mix, but I don’t want to go into too much detail with these three! Harper, you know when you don’t know if you should trust them (still I know), his character and his interactions with Helene. Yup. Musa, I need to know more… However I really REALLY liked him. He’s intriguing. Darins representation of PTSD was heartbreaking and it really made you feel for him, but the words he spoke (you know!) broke my poor little heart. Finally Livia, once again I’m surprised by how strong her character became, how she’s as smart as others and her thought process and wit. Well… it’s interesting!

”If I seem different, remember that I love you. No matter what happens to me.

What I liked?
- I cannot, not mention the names of the chapters, I was literally deceased. That first chapter, then one towards the end. I am not okay. (But SO SO GOOD)
- Now… I know this is weird BUT I kind of liked Marcus as a character in this one… now he’s still a little shit don’t get me wrong. But as we know he hears his brother and that side of things is pretty interesting
- That bloody tattoo!
- All of the ghosts
- Seeing Helene “undignified”… howling.
- Backstory of the Jinn! It messes with you, do I want them to come? Should they stay? STOP MAKING ME FEEL THINGS
- Helene vs Keris I love the rivalry, I really do
- Visions and back stories my god. MY GOD!
- All of the revenge *evil cackle and rubs hands*
- What we found out, there’s so much and I’m just blown away!

What I didn’t like?
- Sabaa Tahir, you broke my heart on MULTIPLE occasions!
- I wish we saw more of certain characters, but that’s only because I was SO invested!

Overall I loved this book, it’s setting up Book 4 perfectly, I am on edge, I need to know what happens to all of my characters. I need names, I need answers, I need my bloody ship. The tension is real and I cannot wait.

”I’m with you here” He taps my heart”

An Ember in the Ashes - 5 Stars
A Torch Against the Night - 5 Stars
A Reaper at the Gates - 5 Stars
A Sky Beyond The Storm - 5 Stars

A Thief Among The Trees - 5 Stars

After finishing the book thoughts...
I'm not coping.

1. My heart is broken and has been trampled on.
2. It cannot end there, I honestly can't wait however long for the final book, I really can't.
3. I need to get my life together after reading this.


Honestly this book destroyed my soul and yet I love it. That is all.


I am a crying mess, I honestly think A Sky Beyond the Storm is going to Kill me off. Like I thought Reaper ruined me, but seeing Sabaas updates and just how attached I am to all of the characters.

What I find with this is that even thought I absolutely HATE some of these characters I really really enjoy reading about them because they're so interesting. Sometimes when you read about a "Villain" they're not that bad, but The Commandant really is, and as for The Nightbringer I have SO many emotions.

I don't know how many times I need to cry about how unfair it is that it seems hopeless that my ship will never ever sail and THEN I have the added heartache of my other ship, Sabaa please give me what I need OR just you know right a nice little chapter for me and I'll be fiiiiiiiiiine!

Seriously though, I adore this series but with the way things are going/how it ended it just feels so hopeless and I think whats bothering me is I have literally no idea where this is going to go! I've thought of theories but I'm not really sure if it would actually happen!

If you are not up to date I suggest you don't read my theory

My theory if you're interested is the Helene will become Empress to stand in for her Nephew until he comes of age, I think that Elias AND Laia will both be Soul Catchers but with their Humanity (this is not what I want, I want them to walk off into the sunset holding hands)

BUT THEN I also think that one of the big three will die...

UNLESS The Commandant and The Nightbringer face the chop?

HOWEVER super excited to get Keris's back story!

Not a theory but I'm also really really excited to Hel and Laia take the Bitch of Blackcliff down!


Honestly I am a mess


Ever though I KNOW what happens in this book AND the plot twist in Sky, this book still really makes me sob. Just hearing the back stories and the amount of trauma all of the characters go through.

In this particular re-read what came from it this time around was my appreciation for Darin, I've always loved him, but in this I think this is where you see the protectiveness come in and always praising Laia and telling her she can do what she wants.

I would also like to show everyone my tabs for these series because they really are something else, it's funny because even on re-reads I somehow manage to add more!

Forever loving this series!

I need this in my life right now.

Also I know we have a cover change... BUT I kind of like it and the meaning behind why it is like it is, my heart!
June 12th, come to me ASAP pleaseeee

No wait... Amazon is telling me 3rd May?!
Yep I booked two days off of work just to read this, I need to know what’s going to happen and I have major heart eyes for Elias so it was only common sense really...
June 15, 2018
Love cannot live here.

When one of your favorite authors in the world has a new book coming out, it generally becomes your whole world. You have laser focus. Books lose that quality that always seems to drag you in. You obsess and rant and annoy so many people, yet you just could care less-until the day comes and you finally have it in your hands and you can’t devour it quick enough. This is that book.

I just so happened to be one of those lucky Bloggers/Bookstagrammers that was a part of the Ember Re-Read tour, and with that came a wonderful perk-I got my beloved Elias book early. That’s right-I finished this book DAYS AGO. Like-before release. It was absolutely wonderful to not worry about spoilers and rabid fangirls (ahem…okay, shut up) ruining any moment of this for me. It was pure solitude and bliss.

“It...It hurts.”

Often when we finally get that book we so crave, it turns out to be a total stinker. Well, I can assure you, this is not the case, here. In fact, I absolutely ADORED IT. It’s been so hard for me lately because I feel as if I’m just so harsh on so many books. I really haven’t connected with too many stories because I just have found SO. MANY. AMAZING. BOOKS this past year that it’s hard for me to be wooed.

I wonder what he has become in the months we’ve been apart. Has he changed? Is he eating? Taking care of himself? Skies, I hope he has not grown a beard. I hated his beard.

I can even say that about an all time favorite series, The Red Queen. It just…somewhere along the way, this author lost me. Don’t get me wrong-there was a LOT to love about War Storm. But in King's Cage, when she did some of the things she did….it just didn’t keep my interest. She hurt me in ways I can’t explain-Cal is my DARLING and I just think it was a case of trying to make so many female characters strong, that she almost backpedaled and made some of the more solid moments of the series all for not-just to prove ‘I female. I strong.’ I get it. We get it. But when a series can stand on it's own two feet, can let the events and the perils and the companionship and mistakes mean something more-now that’s what I come for. These moments can be made into something amazing. Something HUGE. And you’re probably wondering why I’m prattling on about a totally different series-There’s a point, here.

Not often am I SO MAD AND LIVID AND ANGRY at an MC…just to forgive them. I don’t do this. I stay mad and angry and livid and what-have-you. But, somehow, Sabaa made Laia someone I adore. I loved her in book one, wanted to stab her [after what she did] in book two, and wanted to hug her in book three. Though, I transferred that hate to another female, but that’s okay. I’m always hating on someone 😉.

She made a strong, reliable girl that would do anything to save her people. To help them. TO SAVE THOSE GD children [that Sabaa clearly wants to maim and torture repeatedly-Lord help me]-even at the cost of her own life. I don’t know-I really don’t forgive easily. But here? I really did forgive Laia. And the Nightbringer…is it weird I really like him, too, now? Yes, crazy, I know. I’m crazy.

But even knowing what the Masks would have done, I do not wish to kill. I do not wish to belong to this world of blood and violence and vengeance. I do not wish to be a Mask.

My point with all that, though, is that even though there is SO MUCH GOING ON and so many characters and so much sadness (I cried so many times-and I rarely cry about books)….Sabaa makes each and every character SHINE. For example? Where my other boy was brought down to an almost sad loser (I still love him, don’t be fooled) by the author’s hand, Sabaa makes Elias an even stronger character-Laia is strong. Elias is strong. Yet-they hurt. They hurt. It hurts. Ugh-you’ll see.

I’ll go to them as Mask Veturius, dread Martial, soldier of the Empire. I’ll go to them as the estranged, murderous son of the Bitch of Blackcliff, as the monster who killed his friends and assassinated the Empire’s enemies as a child and who watched stonily as Yearlings were whipped to death before his eyes.
This time, I will not ask the jinn for help.
I will take it.

There wasn’t filler and nothing was unnecessary. OH!!! And I forgot about Helene!! MY GOD THAT GIRL GOES THROUGH SO MUCH IN THIS BOOK. I’m telling you-this book is all pain, I swear. Yet-She remains strong. She doesn’t forget her roots and she does everything in her power to save her people.

“Don’t you belittle me. I am the daughter of the Lioness. I destroyed Blackcliff. I saved the life of Elias Veturius. I survived Commandment Keris Veturia. I survived the betrayals of the Resistance and the Nightbringer. I crossed the Empire and broke into Kauf Prison. I rescued my brother and hundreds of other Scholars. I am not nothing.”

There is literally so much loyalty here. No bashing because someone made a choice-chose a different path-went their own way. These people have sacrificed everything-lost friends. Family. Loved ones. True loves. All for the greater good-all for those they love and can save. All the faults I felt in book two…they faded to ash. Yes, this book was heavy. Yes, there is a LOT of sadness. And yes, I wanted/needed/craved more Elias and Laia moments-but they were there. They were bittersweet, beautiful, and heart-wrenching. Their scenes meant something.

“You are cruel, Elias,” she whispers against my mouth. “To give a girl all she desires only to tear it away.”

I guess it’s time I say why this series means so much to me-Elias. I mean, is it any surprise, what with all my Elias appreciation posts and whatnot? Never has there been a more selfless hero. No, I’m not kidding. I think the closest thing that comes to mind is Peeta-TOTALLY different guy, situation, scenario, but he’d give it all up just for her. Both of them. Elias could ruin everything in one moment-for the whole world as he knows it-but he can’t give himself up completely if it means Laia will be hurt.

She looks like I feel: broken. I need to let her go. Fight the Nightbringer, I should say. Win. Find joy. Remember me. For why should she come back here? Her future is in the world of the living.

My heart. I just…CAN’T. He faces so many obstacles in this book I can’t describe or talk about, but just know that heavy is the head that wears the crown-and this applies so many different places. And can we just talk about how bad everything went for EVERYONE in this story?

The first time I killed, I was eleven. I saw my enemy’s face for days after he was gone. I heard his voice. And then I killed again. And again. And again. And again. Too soon, I stopped seeing their faces. I stopped wondering what their names were, or who they left behind. I killed because I was ordered to, and then, once free of Blackcliff, I killed because I had to, to stay alive.

It was one thing after another after another. I could hardly keep up with the pain and destruction. But I have to say-Helene’s, while her storyline has always been a favorite of mine, storyline became a LOT more interesting and, obviously, like everything else in this story, infinitely more heartbreaking.

“…One day soon, you will be tested, child. All that you cherish will burn. You will have no friends that day. No allies. No comrades in arms. On that day, your trust in me will be your only weapon.”

My one complaint: The Children. Why the children, Sabaa?? I couldn’t reconcile with this in my head. It made me ill and even days later my heart is heavy. It’s fair to say I’m more sensitive because I now have a nugget of my own, but at least two instances in this story hurt me-one broke my soul. I started blubbering to myself and my husband just stared at me like I was crazy. I don’t know if this warrants a lower rating or not, but I think have to deduct half a star because…wwwwWHHHHYYYyyyyy. You authors. You’re so mean lol.

I know I can die as Soul Catcher. But by the skies, I won’t die by the hand of a ghost-possessed Tribesman choking the life out of me while gibbering in my ear.

All in all, this book pretty much owns my soul-as does this series and this author (I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOU ON THE 20th WOOT!). I bet you’re surprised I didn’t fangirl about my boy more. Well-when all you do is fangirl about said boy for 6 months, you pretty much have room to gush about other things when the time comes. Y’all know he’s my husband. And you also know I would do ANTYHING to get more of him. For once, I’m not angry at an author for prolonging a series. Too often we see authors drag out a series that has no business going past 2/3 books (ahem, see above). But here? I see it. It wasn’t too much. Bad *stuff* had to happen…and here we are. Do I think it will all end okay? For some, yes. I think the world will be fine, in the end. Do I worry for Elias and Laia or just either of them separately, not as a couple? Yes. Yes I do. I don’t know what their end game is-Will Elias be okay? Will LAIA be okay? Who knows. What I doknow is that there are many heroic characters to root for here, not just the main two. And that? That’s something to celebrate, all by itself.

But again I imploringly ask: Why all the children, Sabaa? Why?? UGHHH.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
descriptive text here


How could you, Sabaa

The tears. They burn. It hurts. It hurts *finger pointy emoji*



Brag much?!

Reaper pics

Reaper pics

Did I mention I love Penguin Teen? And that Sabaa and I are besties?.....Didn't think so :P

Dearest Sabaa,

Let's have a chat, you and I.

Upon the release of your Elias quote earlier this week for an A Reaper at the Gates preview, it has come to my attention that you intend to cause my main man grief-GOOD. The better for an epic love story.

"All things have a price, Elias Veturius. The price of saving her will haunt you for all your days. Will you pay it?"

However. We both know you don't really want to hurt him, now do you? That's what I thought.

We're both rational book [boyfriend] loving gals who could kick it around town whilst singing the praises of all our favorite men and the peril they go through to save their true loves.

Because that's all it is, right? A story? You'd never actually hurt my baby Elias (my book husband (among many, but this is neither here nor there), thank you)-it's all for the beauty of the story and the theatrics of it all.

So we'll continue to have these wholly fictional chats over drinks, over nights out on the town, over coffee (or, in my case, Mountain Dew)...

But if you so much as hurt a hair on my Elias's precious little head (more so than you already have), our alliance is severed and I cut all ties to our fictional friendship.

I'm sorry, but rules are rules, and you can't double cross a friend after you [fictionally] promised to keep a character safe. You can't double cross on the safety of a loved one.

So-Here's hoping you choose to do the SMART thing. The RATIONAL thing. Don't make me abduct you for ransom. I don't want to have to do this-you don't want me to have to do that, do you? Of course you don't. Do you want me to cry?

Of course not.


Chelsea-Forever your biggest fan
AKA Psycho BBF Girl Who Will Go To Drastic Measures To Ensure Her Boys Survive
Profile Image for Zainab.
381 reviews501 followers
March 14, 2019
Such a good series through and through.
Profile Image for Beatrice in Bookland.
448 reviews837 followers
January 19, 2019
"In this fiery hellscape of a world, this mess of blood and madness, justice exists only for those who take it. I'll be damned if I'm not one of them."

1) An ember in the ashes ★★★★☆
2) A torch against the night ★★★★★


First things first: nothing will ever be as badass as Helene covered in blood fighting with her war hammer

Anyway, A reaper at the gates was fantastic. Everything came full circle (even if there's still one book left) and some little things that didn't make sense in the previous instalments were finally explained.

Yes, I didn't give it five full stars and that's because imo the first 30-35% of the book is veeery slow and sometimes even hard to follow. Plus, even if I still love him with my whole heart and think that he deserves a future full of rainbows and jam with Laia, I didn't enjoy Elias's storyline.

But leaving those two things aside, the book is perfect. The first two books were more character driven but this one is very political with a heavy focus on the war. Our three protagonists, Laia, Elias and Helene, are on their own journeys doing different things but they all have the same goal, to protect their loved ones and the world in general.

As for the romance, being A reaper at the gates a plot driven book, it's in the background. But when it's there it's painful as hell. I know I shouldn't (because this series will likely end in tears and suffering) but I ship Laia and Elias so much. Every time they're together you can feel the love they have for each other and I hope they're going to get the future of their dreams. And I ship Helene and Harper, too. Their chemistry is off the charts and they both deserve some love in their lives. I ship Helene and her war hammer, too.
Speaking of Helene, I wasn't the biggest fan of her character in the first two books but in this one she totally won me over. She was my absolute favorite here, no doubts.

And goddamn the plot twists. Sabaa Tahir is the queen of the unexpected. We finally get to know, through visions, Laia's mother, who turned out to be another very morally grey character, we find out who Cook is, we get inside the Nightbringer's head and we finally find out what the actual hell Keris (The Commandant) wants and what object is the last piece of the Star (another fucking amazing plot twist and heart wrenching scene).

I can't wait to get my hands on the last book, hopefully these three souls will finally get the happiness they deserve.
Profile Image for Heather.
389 reviews16.8k followers
June 29, 2018
Full review to come soon! Let's just say after this:
I still love Helene
Elias is amazing and my heart for him..
Laia, I've really grown to enjoy her character.

So many plot twists I did not seeing coming...like at all!
The ending....what???

Amazing book, I expected nothing less from this series!
Profile Image for Lena.
361 reviews258 followers
July 24, 2018
I need sleep. Desperately.

”Curse this world for what it does to the daughters. Curse it for making us strong through loss and pain, our hearts torn from our chests again and again. Curse it for forcing us to endure.”

8 hours later and I’m still in denial. I mean, what in the hells was that fucking ending???????? Sure, go ahead and rip the very soul from my body, laughing while you do it, won’t you?!
All I can say is that this book and series definitely live up to their hype and I’m not kidding when I say this is probably the best one so far? Laia, Helene and Elias all suffer tremendous losses in this book and they hurt. Oh, they hurt. War is looming in this sequel to A Torch against the Night and our characters are right in the middle of it. We get POV’s from Laia, Helene AKA Blood Shrike and our beloved Elias. From all their thoughts I think I might’ve liked Helene’s the most, with her unwavering loyalty to the Empire, her people and her sister. Am I the only one living for her and Harper’s slow burn love? Plus her chapters were probably the most action packed out of the three. I hated Marcus with everything I had and will never forgive him for what he did to Helene’s family. He’s a little...hmmm, how to put this...unstable in this book, being haunted by his brothers’ ghost and all and I was never able to predict what he’d do next.
That being said, Laia is regretting all that happened with the Nightbringer and is desperately trying to mend things and to prevent him from freeing the jinn. But how dare you do this to me?! I can’t believe it but my love for her is even bigger now after finishing this mountain of a book. Laia was unbelievably stubborn at times and tried everything to save people from an inevitable doom, but still, she kept on going, she kept on fighting.
Elias however, oh my. Where do I even begin? The Waiting Place and the magic within kept tugging at him which resulted in my baby boy being ripped away from essential moments and scenes where Laia really needed him, it was maddening and frustrating. Their forbidden love is what kept me going through moments of pure despair for I am trash for this ship. All in all Elias’s chapters hurt the most and I honestly don’t know what I’ll do when the last book is out. I felt like stomping my feet in frustration reading his chapters, it just isn’t fair to him or anyone and can we please stop trying to rob him of his humanity?!

The fuck am I gonna do now 😭😭😭
Profile Image for Yumiko.
235 reviews515 followers
April 2, 2021
I'm sorry, Leigh Bardugo. I really am. But Sabaa Tahir has taken the throne, and she is not stepping down.

That's right, mortals. Sabaa Tahir is now my favorite author of all my favorite books in the entire world.

There is just so much shit that happens in this book. Good shit. I genuinely don't know how I'm speaking coherently for this review. It will probably end in gibberish, but honestly, I don't care. As long as I get my point across.

The writing: The inside of Sabaa Tahir's mind? It is gold. I have no idea what it looks like, but whatever's in there, I can rest assured that's it beautiful. Or tragic. They're pretty much the same thing. I am just so obsessed with the way she writes. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced before, and I don't know if I'll ever find anything as good as her work.

The world-building: The world-building is flawless. I have no complaints whatsoever. I love the "ten hells" and "bleeding skies" and all that other bullshit. I love Sabaa Tahir. I love anything and everything she writes. I could never hate it. Never. The world-building really takes you into a different world and allows you to see the ways of the Empire. You also get perspectives from the Scholars and the people in power so you always know what each side is up to, which I thought was beautiful and fascinating.

The plot: There was always some shit going down. Always. Every. Single. Chapter. Literally, as every chapter comes to a close, your heart is beating fast, you're whispering to yourself oh no, oh shit and your brother is telling you to shut the fuck up. The plot was so amazing. I love the Nightbringer's plan to destroy the three champions (hate the Nightbringer). His plan is brilliant, but he won't win. He won't. (bro i'm wishful thinking so hard rn. NO DEATHS AND NO HEARTBREAKS PLS)

The characters: *gibberish*
Helene Aquilla: The. Love. Of. My. Life. She is my queen. Hands down. Out of all the YA Fantasy books I've ever read, this goddess holds my heart. She's so imperfect and cold and heartless, and I love it. I love Helene so much. She is a role model and she goes through hardships and she shows you how to get past them. I love Inej, but Inej is already strong. She knows her worth and she doesn't need to fight for her. She hardly has inner turmoil. But I love Helene even more for her inner battles, fighting for respect, and many attempts to best Keris. Because it shows her imperfection and it makes me resonate more with her. I swear no other female protagonist has ever held my heart so deeply. I would die for her.
Laia of Serra: I dare you to say Laia is boring or stupid or scared or whatever the hell you want. I've heard so much shit about her and I'm tired of it. Laia is so wonderful and amazing and I love her to death. She has grown so much since AEITA from this scared, powerless girl to one that demands respect and will not cower from someone's gaze. She is such a beautiful person, I love her so much, and I will never give her up for another human to love.
Elias Veterius: Another character I would die for. He is just the kind of character I love, yet somehow so completely different from any that I've ever read about. Strong, intelligent, resilient, kind, hilarious. His personality feels so immensely real, like he's an actual person.
Harper Avitas: My new book boyfriend. The love of my life. Harper is utter perfection. There is nothing I would change about him. He loves Helene and he deserves her, because he is so imperfectly perfect and I would never give him up for anything. I have high, high hopes for this ship.

This leads me to my next point. The main reason why I love AEITA books is because these fictional characters are cast into a fictional world inside a fictional book and nothing is real. But out of any novel I have ever read, I can feel these characters come alive as if they are real people living inside a real world.

My copy of SKY is literally about to come, and I am just honestly quaking because I 104% know that I'm going to fall in love with it, and that it is going to break my heart. Surprise, surprise, Sabaa Tahir said she loves Reader Tears. Every single person who has ever talked about SKY has said they are empty. I want to know what's going to happen, but at the same time, I am terrified for my life. I'm ready, but I'm not ready. Elias can die. Laia can die. (I DONT FUCKING MEAN IT, I'M JUST DESPERATE.) But Helene and Harper CANNOT DIE. NO ONE CAN GET THEIR HEARTS BROKEN. PLEASE
Profile Image for theburqaavenger➹.
124 reviews536 followers
April 30, 2021
Even though these books are super sad like they are the ultimate level of sadness i still keep reading these books because
Profile Image for Scrill.
407 reviews204 followers
Want to read
August 15, 2017
Ok, so I am mad that it wont match my other hardback covers. If you're buying the books with these covers, the older editions also got revamped, and together they look alright I guess...but my bookshelf feng shui is going to be thrown off. I dunno, I was just such a fan of the original. Here are the remakes of the original covers, in case you haven't seen them.

So at least the color hues are similar....

Cover reveal:
Kept seeing these comments about the book cover, and I kept scrolling cause I was like dunno what that is don't care. Till I realized what series this was for. Really, why did they change the cover style?

And why does Elias look like he just popped out of Assasin's Creed?

****EDIT-Answers to my initial questions found in this interview
Profile Image for Ishmeen.
380 reviews153 followers
February 20, 2021
Yoooo this was bloody amazing and so much better than the last one, I loved it!! My heart hurts for my poor soul catcher and Helene who is still my queen 👏🏼 I don’t give two shits about Laia lol but I do really like the mythological side the plot has taken and I can’t wait to read about what will go down in the last book😊
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