Saturday, April 5, 2014

ARC Review: Sea of Shadows by Kelley Armstrong

Sea of Shadows
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Age of Legends (Book 1)
Publication: HarperCollins; 1st edition (April 8, 2014)

Description: Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times bestselling author, takes an exciting new direction with this big, breathtaking blend of fantasy, romance, horror, and pulse-pounding action, perfect for fans of Graceling and Game of Thrones

Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn were marked at birth to become the Keeper and the Seeker of Edgewood, beginning with their sixteenth birthday. Trained in fighting and in the secret rites of the spirits, they lead an annual trip into the Forest of the Dead. There, the veil between the living world and the beyond is thinnest, and the girls pay respect to the spirits who have passed.

But this year, their trip goes dreadfully wrong.

With all the heart-stopping romance and action that have made her a #1 New York Timesbestselling author, and set in an unforgettably rich and dangerous world, this first epic book in the Age of Legends trilogy will appeal to Kelley Armstrong's legions of fans around the world and win her many new ones.

My Thoughts: SEA OF SHADOWS is an action-packed beginning to a new fantasy trilogy. Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are Keeper and Searcher of Edgewood. They have been fated for the job since birth and each has a companion animal. Moria has a hunting cat she has named Daigo. Ashyn's Tova is a giant yellow hound.

Now, having turned sixteen, Ashyn has to go into the Forest of the Dead to find the bodies of the criminals and exiles that were sent there and lay their restless spirits. Ashyn doesn't feel confident in her task. The task is made harder when those who accompany her begin disappearing. However, she does find one exile from the previous year named Ronan who is still alive. Ronan had one of Moria's daggers and thought that Ashyn was Moria at first.

Ashyn and Moria do manage to escape the forest of the dead despite being hunted by shadow stalkers. But when they get to Edgewood, they find the village has also been attacked. There are few survivors. Ashyn is particularly concerned for Moria who has gone into the Forest of the Dead to try to rescue her. She meets up with Gavril Kitsune who is one of the village guards exiled there when his father was declared a traitor and sent to the forest to die. Moria and Gavril have a very contentious relationship but do manage to work together to survive.

Ashyn is determined to get word to the Emperor of the events in Edgewood and takes off with the few survivors across the waste to the nearest town. Ronan has been following along watching over her. As her companions fall victim to the hazards of the Wastes, Ronan joins up with the group just in time for them to be attacked by sand worms spitting acid. Meanwhile, Moria and Gavril are also doing battle on the Wastes. This time the creature is the Thunder Hawk. Both sand worms and thunder hawks are supposed to be mythological creatures. Evidence is pointing to someone using sorcery.

The two groups do finally meet when they are both captured by the mercenaries who have overtaken the town they were fleeing to for help. The four of them are being sent to the Emperor with a sealed letter stating that conqueror's demands.

Again the group has adventures along the way. Relationships grow between the boys and the girls as they get to know each other. But I would describe them as friendships rather than romances. Secrets are shared but lots more secrets remain.

This is the first book in a trilogy. It also ends on a cliffhanger. I loved the characters and the worldbuilding in this story. I admired the way Armstrong let us know about the world without resorting to long-winded "info-dumps." I look forward to reading the next book and just wish that it was coming out sooner.

Favorite Quote:
He meant would she still vouch for him, to say he "rescued" her. Someday, perhaps, a young man would give her that soulful look and not want anything more than her kind regard. Ronan wasn't that young man. But he was what she needed right now. So she agreed and returned to camp with Tova.
I got this book for review from HarperCollins via Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

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