Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong
Published by: Doubleday Canada
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, High Fantasy
Extent: 432 pages
Sisters Moria and Ashyn are the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood.
Or at least, they were.
Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, they are all but prisoners in court, forced to watch and wait while the Emperor decides whether to help the children of Edgewood, who remain hostages of the treacherous Alvar Kitsune.
But when the emperor finally sends the girls on a mission to rescue the children – accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of men – the journey proves more perilous than any of them could have imagined. With lies and unrest mounting in the empire, Moria and Ashyn will have to draw on every bit of influence and power they possess to unite their people and avert an all-out war.
In this second book in her epic and captivating Age of Legends trilogy, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong blends romance, danger, and magic to send readers on a heart-racing journey through an unforgettable world.
Empire of Night is what I’ve been waiting for out of this series! It bursts with honour, duty, filial piety, betrayals, and political trickery and plays. It certainly doesn’t suffer from second book syndrome. It is, by far, my favourite out of the series. Kelley’s plot twists are action packed and fast paced.
Once Moria and Ashyn, the Keeper and Seeker, find refuge at the Empire, Emperor Jiro Tatsu tasks them with the duty to find the missing Edgewood children, along with Ronan, an exiled convict who escapes the Forest of the Dead with Ashyn, and the Emperor’s bastard son Tyrus. But this journey proves more dangerous than anyone expects.
In this instalment, you get more multi-layered characters. Tyrus is a worthy companion for Moria, and while he doesn’t push Moria like Gavril does, he has a sixth sense when it comes to her, as if he and she have bonded over years rather than weeks. They share an intense chemistry, but I wonder which relationship will prevail: Moria and Tyrus or Moria and Gavril.
And here is where I gush over Moria’s arc. What more can you throw at a character? Kelley pits her against ruthless guards, dangerous beasties that she’d never think she’d see, and the savage Alvar Kitsune. Moria is the star attraction. I love her growth. But I can’t forget Ashyn. She’s one character who exhibits a strong quietude that flourishes once she sees herself as something more than her sister’s shadow. Because of their Northern heritage, Ashyn and Moria are seen as fetishes, a part of a minority, and simpleminded creatures. Readers can argue that the main characters are still white, but Kelley plays these race scenes and division in ethnicities rather well, and they bring a unique twist to the series.
Japanese heritage and history take centre stage in this instalment. Kelley sticks to the honour and duty that many families revered in that society, especially filial piety. And these morals intertwine in each character and arc. You especially see them in Tyrus and Gavril. Although I enjoyed reading Sea of Shadows, I felt that is too isolated, and even though the reawakened creatures and the kidnapped children carry the book quite well, Empire of Night expands on the world building tenfold. You finally see how the imperial city rules its lands and its people and how the citizens of the Empire are anxious, wary, and concerned of the unexplained occurrences.
Alvar––the former imperial marshal and father of Gavril, a warrior who helps Moria escape the ruins of Edgewood in Sea of Shadows––uses that suppressed fear and morphs it into a beast waiting to attack the imperial family and Empire itself. Some residents still question the exile of Alvar. Gavril doesn’t play a huge role in Empire of Night, but he does play a pivotal one, though. So at least we get some good Gavril parts.
The Age of Legends series gets better after every book. Forest of Ruin will be a great finale to this thrilling series! I hope Ashyn gets her chance to show this cruel world what her strength really is. And that ending killed me.