Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sea of Shadows is the first book in the Age of Legends series for Kelley Armstrong and the story starts out strong. There is a lot of action, some fantastic creatures, and some great characters. I am excited to see where the rest of the story goes.
Moria and Ashlyn are twin sisters who live in the village of Edgewood. They also happen to be the Seeker and the Keeper of the village which means a number of things. Edgewood borders the Forest of the Dead and it is their responsibility to protect the village from the dangers that exist in the forest. Once a year the the Seeker (Ashlyn) is to go out to the forest and find the bodies of the damned and put their spirits to rest. While the Seeker performs this ritual, it is up to the Keeper (Moria) to keep the village safe. This year, having just turned sixteen, both will do their parts alone for the first time.
Because of their roles within the village, both Moria and Ashlyn are protected. They are viewed as protected by the spirits so there is a sort of reverence around them. In addition to the spirits, they both travel with their designated animal companion. For Ashlyn, it is a hound by the name of Tova and for Moria, it is a wildcat name Daigo. Both protect the twins with their lives as well as accompany them wherever they go.
When heading out to the forest to conduct the ritual this year, Ashlyn can sense something feels off. Tova feels it too and almost immediately things start to go wrong. Tova is injured, members of the search party are disappearing, and there is a definite sense of something not quite right. Regardless, the search party continues on their mission and come to realize that it was a mistake. While out in the woods, Ashlyn comes across not only the scary stuff but also Ronan who was an exile that survived the dangers of the forest and is looking for a way out. By helping Ashlyn get back to Edgewood, he has the perfect opportunity.
As you know, characters are what really draw me into a story and I thought Armstrong did a great job creating and developing the story around the main characters. First, although they are twins, Moria and Ashlyn couldn’t be more different. Moria is the tough, fighter who says what is on her mind. Ashlyn is the more reserved twin who while capable with a blade, it isn’t her strength. She also prefers to let Moria take the lead in just about everything. There were definitely times where I was frustrated with her for that but it was just her nature.
Alongside the twins, there is a warrior guard named Gavril and the exile named Ronan. Both have interesting stories and ultimately have been betrayed by the Emperor of the Imperial City. In Gavril’s case, his father was the Marshal of the city which is a pretty high up role in the government. He also comes from a line of sorcerer’s and that is eventually what was his downfall. He was accused of sorcery and exiled. As a boy growing up a court, this has been held against Gavril and he came to Edgewood to escape the court and focus on being a warrior.
Ronan was a thief and comes from a family of thieves. When his father came up with a plan that eventually went completely wrong, Ronan, his father, and his uncle were all exiled and sent to the forest. The expected outcome was that all exiles would die and then their spirits would be released by Ashlyn. When Ronan survives and then ultimately helps Ashlyn get back to Edgewood, his story becomes intertwined with hers. I am especially interested in seeing where his story goes as I feel like there is some other reason other than his sister and brother that he decides to break away from the group. I hope he comes back fairly quickly in book two as he did bring a bit of levity to the story.
There is some romance and the Ronan/Ashlyn relationship definitely had more teeth. Although I get why Moria and Gavril gravitate to each other, they both seem a bit closed off for anything to really go anywhere. Based on how this book wrapped up, I look forward to seeing how these characters move forward, not just on their own but with each other.
There is danger, death, and betrayal and as the story moves forward, all four of these characters will have some choices to make. If you enjoy the fantasy genre you will definitely appreciate the different types of animals they run into along the way and the world they live in was definitely interesting. I will absolutely be picking up book two once it comes out and definitely recommend you check this one out when you can.
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