A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

The basics

Title: A Reaper at the Gates


Series: An Ember in the Ashes #3

- An Ember in the Ashes (April 2015)
- A Torch in the Night (April 2016)
- A Reaper at the Gates (June 2018)
- A Sky Beyond the Storm (2020)

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Goodreads Summary:

Helene Aquilla, the Blood Shrike, is desperate to protect her sister's life and the lives of everyone in the Empire. Yet danger lurks on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable and violent, while Keris Veturia, the ruthless Commandant, capitalizes on the Emperor's volatility to grow her own power—regardless of the carnage she leaves in her path.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows that the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. During the hunt to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would help 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. However, in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that demands his complete surrender—even if that means abandoning the woman he loves.

Read a full summary of A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir below. If you can’t remember what happened in A Reaper at the Gates and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

what happened in A Reaper at the Gates?

  • The Nightbringer recalls that his wife feared his vengeance. He sends a letter to Helene which tells her where Laia is. He also sends ghuls to help.
  • Helen captures Laia as she’s trying to raid caravans and save Scholars.
  • Elias is struggling with his training because he can’t put the past behind him. 
  • Helene captures Elias. Elias tells Helen to speak to his grandfather to learn more about his mother, Keris.
  • Shaeva rescues Elias which is good because he was never going to escape by himself.
  • Harper releases Laia.
  • The emperor Marcus hurts Livia to punish Helene for her failures.
  • The Nightbringer kills Shaeva.
  • Laia needs to look for the Beekeeper to find out how to stop the Nightbringer from freeing the jinn.
  • Livia sends a message to Helene via Cain asking her to visit. Livia shows Helene that Marcus is taking orders from his dead brother.
  • Livia tells Helene that she’s pregnant.
  • Laia takes Darin with her to find the Beekeeper, who they believe to be in Adisa. There are wanted posters for them everywhere so they need to be careful.
  • They realise that refugees are suffering, and so they turn themselves in. The Beekeeper saves them from jail and introduces himself as Musa.
  • Darin will make steel weapons for the Scholars.
  • Elias is drawn to the Waiting Place and the jinn show him their memories when he asks.
  • Helene realises that the Nightbringer is controlling the Commandant. Helene is made to look terrible at her job when Navium is attacked by the Karkaun and the Commandant pretends the fleet is destroyed. Helene realises that the Commandant will likely try to kill Livia and the baby.
  • Musa asks Laia to lead the Scholars.
  • Laia starts seeing a vision of a woman whenever she turns invisible.
  • The jinn show Elias visions of the Commandant. Elias sees a tattoo on her.
  • Elias learns that some of the ghosts have escaped the forest. They attack a caravan and possess people, which is not a good sign. The ghosts give the possessed humans speed and strength.
  • Elias tries to help but fails.
  • Helene and the Commandant have to defend the city again against the Karkauns. Helene is wounded. Elias visits her in her vision and she’s able to get up and heal herself with the help of the Nightbringer.
  • Elias visits Laia, but Mauth possesses Laia and sends Elias away. Elias learns the jinn are deceiving him.
  • Mauth tries to make Elias let go of everything so he can use his magic.
  • The jinn share that they were Soul Catchers that were led by the Nightbringer. Scholars tricked Shaeva into giving them their magic and trapping them in the grove. The jinns’ children were killed by humans.
  • A Kehanni woman tells Laia that the Nightbringer is immortal.
  • The Nightbringer sends wraiths to kill the Kehanni woman. She tells Laia to look for the prophecy of the Augurs.
  • A Jaduna woman asks Laia to come east with her but Laia doesn’t want to go. She is given a book of Augur prophecies instead.
  • Laia learns that Helene has the final piece of the star which will be used by the Nightbringer to release the jinn if he can get hold of it.
  • Helene shows everyone that the Commandant faked the destruction of the fleet and she has been working against Helene. Helene takes control of the fleet.
  • Livia is poisoned, so Helene returns to Antium to heal her. Emperor Marcus sees Helene heal Livia, so he hurts Livia again and demands Helene use her powers. Marcus wants Helene to heal his head too. 
  • The Nightbringer tells Marcus there’s nothing to heal, he’s actually seeing a ghost.
  • Laia learns that Musa is the disgraced consort to the princes of Adisa. The king of Adisa agrees to help Laia and the team.
  • The princess tells Laia that she needs to stop the Nightbringer.
  • Laia enters the grove, and the jinn show her the woman in her visions. It turns out to be her mother, who was captured by the Commandant. Laia’s whole family were tortured, and so Laia’s mother killed her husband and other daughter to save them. Laia learns that her mother is the Cook.
  • Elias frees Laia from the jinn.
  • Ghosts break out of the forest.
  • Keris received a tattoo for every Illustian she killed.
  • The Karkauns abandon their camps, implying they’re heading for war.
  • Helene tells Marcus to send Livia away.
  • The Commandant captures Livia.
  • Cook finds Laia as she arrives in the city to find the star. Cook and Laia discuss the star and decide it’s probably in their rings.
  • The Commandant tries to make a midwife kill Livia and her baby.
  • The Karkauns arrive and ambush Helene and her army. Harper is injured.
  • Elias makes the ghosts pass on using his magic. He follows a bunch of ghosts to Antium.
  • The ghosts possess the Karkauns and enter the city.
  • Livia goes into labour and Laia uses her midwife training to help her. Laia delivers the baby and steals the family ring.
  • Mauth has taken over Elias’ body. He manages to get rid of the ghosts but he doesn’t want to help Laia.
  • Livia is able to escape the city.
  • The Commandant fatally wounds Marcus. Helene finds him and puts him out of his misery. This means his baby, Zacharias, is now emperor.
  • Helene realises this whole thing was the Commandant’s plan, as she had had all the records moved in advance of the attack.
  • The Commandant tells Helene that she plans to rule over everyone.
  • Laia realises she grabbed the wrong thing and the ring isn’t the star. The Nightbringer laughs at Laia.
  • Mauth, as Elias, tells Laia that the jinn need to be released and he won’t help her defeat the Nightbringer.
  • The Scholars escape the city as the Karkauns take over.
  • Helene is left to fight on her own. She asks the Nightbringer for help, and in exchange he asks for her mask. Helene rips it off and gives it to him. This is stupid because 
  • The Nightbringer doesn’t stop the Karkauns from attacking and Helene is overwhelmed.
  • Laia and Cook show up and save Helene. They run through the tunnels and destroy the mountain behind them so they can’t be followed.
  • Helene and Laia form an alliance.
  • Elias tells Laia he is now the Soul Catcher.
  • Elias meets his grandma’s ghost.
  • The Nightbringer goes to the grove and releases the fire jinn. Cain and the Augurs are there, and it turns out they were the Scholars from centuries ago.
  • The Nightbringer spares Cain’s life but kills the rest.
  • The Nightbringer plans to let the Commandant rule and the Scholars to be wiped out by the jinn.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!

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