A few years ago, a friend gifted me the boxed set of books 1-3 in the “An Embers in the Ashes” series. It had been on my Goodreads TBR list for a while, and who knows how much longer it could have remained there. I entered the tragic yet hopeful story of Laia of Serra and her friends, years after it was first written. I am glad it happened this way, because I was able to read the series as a whole, without waiting impatiently for the next stage in the never ending war.
Being the fourth and final book in this series, I believed the worst had already happened to our main characters. In hindsight, I should’ve known that Sabaa Tahir would tie up this series with further losses, and so much despair. Each time I was sure of a pending win for our side against Keris and the Nightbringer, they’d be knocked back with another terrible loss. As goes the theme of this whole series: love can’t be felt without pain.
Even the most evil of characters can feel love, and be loved.
I am impressed with Tahir’s dedication to providing readers an authentic telling of how love and hate coexist. Even our most hated character Keris was once loved, and had shown mercy to her son. A son she tried to hate. Clearly the Nightbringer was the cause of breaking the world because of his own horrible losses at the hands of humans. Yet, I even found myself relating to him in the end. Is it fair to punish the world for a wrong done by their ancestors over thousands of years ago? Of course not. That doesn’t mean we don’t understand, and sympathize.
One of the greatest things about fantasy fiction is how it transports a reader into another world with similar problems to our own reality, yet it’s different enough to be a soothing balm to our worries. In our world, there is no magic, and nothing is black and white. In a realm such as Sierra with sand efrits, jinn, augers, martials, and tribespeople, the right path seems so clear. It’s so much more obvious. Good must defeat evil for the happily ever after. All of us are on a path similar to one of the people in the “An Ember in the Ashes” series.
In “A Sky Beyond the Storm”, Tahir gives readers some of the ending that they wanted all along with a balance of what they wish could be rewritten. Some of our favorite people are lost in the end. All of whom survived are irrevocably changed, but still searching for the will to keep moving. With this balance, Sabaa Tahir has truly captured the beauty and pain of the human experience.