A Reaper at the Gates

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A Reaper at the Gates
A reaper at the gates book cover.jpg
First edition book cover
AuthorSabaa Tahir
CountryUnited States
SeriesAn Ember in the Ashes
GenreYoung adult, fantasy
Publication date
Jun 12, 2018
Media typePrint (hardcover), audiobook, e-book
Pages464 (hardcover)
LC ClassPZ7.1.T33 Re 2018
Preceded byA Torch Against the Night 

A Reaper at the Gates is a fantasy novel written by Pakistani-American author Sabaa Tahir. It was published on Jun 12, 2018 by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Random House.[1] It is the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series, preceded by A Torch Against the Night [2][3]. The story follows Laia, a scholar girl, on a mission to defeat the night bringer; Elias, the current soul catcher, tries to learn the ways of soul catcher and Helene, the blood shrike; tries to defeat the enemies of the empire.[4] The novel is narrated in the first-person, alternating between the points of view of Laia, Elias and Helene.


The story begins a few months after the events of A Torch Against the Night. Laia, Afya and Darin raid wagons, taking captured scholars to prison frequently with the help of Elias, the soul catcher. However, the Blood Shrike receives a note from the Night Bringer and lays a trap for them. She hopes to catch Elias to use him against his mother, the commandant. However, though she manages to capture Laia and lure Elias using her as a bait, Shaeva comes and saves Elias. Harper let Laia go as well. After Laia manage to get back to the forest of dusk, the night bringer appears before Elias, Shaeva and Laia. He murders Shaeva and leaves. Before her death, Shaeva prophecies about the impending events and instructs Laia to find the beekeeper in the city of Adisa. Laia determined to stop the night bringer, goes to Adisa with her brother. The Marinn forces capture them but Musa, a scholar with the magic of controlling lesser creatures, breaks them out. He is revealed to be the beekeeper. He offers them help and in exchange, Laia have to build up the scholar resistance once more and Darin has to forge the serric steel for the scholars. After shaeva’s death, Elias slowly learns how to control the dead souls. The djinn imprisoned in the forest shows him how they were imprisoned, also he learns that his emotions are keeping the magic of Mauth to enter his body. Meanwhile, blood shrike learns that her sister Livia is pregnant. On the order of Emperor Marcus, she goes to Navium, to fight off the Karkaun horde that is attacking by sea and try to sully the commandant who is in command there. The first attempt to fight results in a defeat and commandant’s assassins manage to wound Helene. However, the Night Bringer heals her and tells her that he wants her trust for she has something of his need. Helene figures out the ploy of the commandant and with the help of Quin Veturius, she manages to defeat the enemy and spoil the plot of the commandant. She returns to Antium hearing the news of Livia being poisoned. Helene reaches the city to find the Night Bringer have been helping her sister to live. She heals her. Laia learns from a storyteller that the secret of the auger prophecy is in the library of Adisa. The library is burnt down by the minions of the Night Bringer, but a Jaduna helps her to find the book she needs. From the book, it became clear from prophecies that the last piece of the star is held by Helene. Laia meets with the king of Marinn and persuades him into helping her. She sets out to acquire it before the Night Bringer does. Meanwhile, the Karkaun forces retreated from Navium, comes to Antium to siege the city. The commandant manages to bring the plebeian to her side and comes to the Antium herself. She allies herself with the master of treasury and few other powerful houses. Laia, while crossing through the forest of dusk, falls prey to the Djinn and they show her that cook is her mother, who has been captured by the commandant and her mother killed her older sister and father in order to stop them from giving up information. The commandant tortured her until she was disfigured and broken. This revelation leaves Laia shook and Elias comes to help her. As Elias cares for Laia, the magic of Mauth fades from him and the ghosts break out of the walls of the waiting place. Realizing that his failure as soul catcher is going to bring more pain to the world, Elias turns back from Laia and become one with the Mauth. He starts to hunt the rogue souls back to the waiting place. The Karkaun army attacks Antium. They start to use the ghost possessed as soldiers and quickly turn the tide of war to their favour. Laia meets up with Cook and they sneak into the city. Cook sends Laia to the blackguard barracks where the pregnant empress is. Helene goes back from fighting to the blackguard barracks learning that Livia is due now. Laia sees the situation in the barracks and offers to help. With Helene's healing and Laia’s help, the son of Marcus and Livia is born. Marcus comes to the barracks and sends Livia, his son and Helene to a secret tunnel and stays there to fight off the commandant. Helene, however, leaves the task to Farris and Dex instructing them to meet up with Harper and collapse the entrance of all the tunnels after all the people goes in. She returns to the barrack to find Marcus near death. Marcus tells her that the city is lost and urges her to save his heir. Upon the request of Marcus, she finally kills him. Laia in the meantime has stolen Helene’s rings, thinking that was the last piece and fled from the barracks. The Night Bringer appears and confirms that she is mistaken. Elias comes to the city and returns with the remaining ghosts there, taking no part in saving Laia or Helene. Laia and her mother, cook, gather up scholars and flees through the tunnel. Helene hears the drums message informing that the Karkauns are going to the way she has sent her sister and nephew to. She stands her ground against the Karkauns to let her people escape. However, her soldiers die after hours of fighting. In desperation, she calls out to Night bringer for help. The Night bringer appears and halts the Karkauns. He asks Helene to give him her mask, which in fact the last piece of the star. She gives him her mask, trusting him to save her people. However, the Night Bringer takes the mask and leaves. Laia and cook spots Helene, too exhausted and wounded to fight. They carry her out and cook bids goodbye to Laia and stays behind to give them more time to escape. They reach the cave and the tunnel entrance is caved in. They flee to Delphinium where they learn the commandant escaped and is named Empress. Helene and Laia agree to work together in the upcoming days. Laia comes to the forest of dusk to see Elias, but upon seeing the dehumanized Elias, she goes back. The night bringer comes to the Djinn grove with the Augers. It is revealed that the Augers are the old scholar king who had tricked the djinn into imprisonment and have been using their magic. The night bringer releases the djinn and lets Cain, a single auger to live.


Laia – Laia is described on the official An Ember in the Ashes web site as "a Scholar living with her grandparents and brother under the brutal rule of the Martial Empire. She and her family eke out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets, trying their best not to draw attention to themselves. But one night, Empire soldiers raid Laia’s home—and life as she knows it changes forever."[5]. She is trying to thwart the plan of Night Bringer.

Elias – Elias is the current soul catcher, he delivers the souls of the dead from waiting place.

Helene – Helene Aquilla is Blood Shrike, the right hand woman of the emperor.

Commandant – The Commandant, Keris Veturia, is the cruel head of the military academy, Blackcliff, as well as the mother of Elias, and is considered "one of the most powerful people in the Empire."[5]

Marcus Farrar – Emperor Marcus is a sadistic man and former classmate of Helene and Elias. He is married to Helene's younger sister, Livia.

Night Bringer – The old king of the Djinn.

Avitas Harper – The right hand man of the Blood Shrike and half brother of Elias. He has a romantic interest towards Helene.[6]

Musa – The beekeeper and has the magical ability to control lesser fey creature. He is also the prince consort of princess Nikla of the Marinn