Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review: Sea of Shadows

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends, #1)Title: Sea of Shadows
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Age of Legends
Volume: 1
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: April 8, 2014

Received an eARC through NetGalley.

A Quick Introduction: Twin sisters Moria and Ashyn have a dangerous task. They are the Keeper and the Seeker, charged with putting the spirits of the dead in the Forest of the Dead, where the empire's worst criminals are exile to their deaths. However, on the day of the Seeking, when Ashyn, the Seeker, must venture into the forest and find the dead, something is wrong. An ancient evil, known only through old stories, attacks the village and separates the girls. Accompanied by their bond-beasts- a dog and a wildcat whom they have been bound to since a week after their birth- a condemned thief and a warrior, the girls must journey across a land populated with monsters that they thought only legends, and they rapidly become entangled in a brewing conflict that threatens the entire empire.

Out of Ten: 7/10

Review at a Glance: A trilogy opening in a dangerous, fascinating fantasy world.

Review: I enjoyed this one a lot. I read Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers trilogy quite a while ago, which I found alright, but the genre and story weren't really up my alley- I'm not usually into paranormal. This is a high fantasy, which has bits of a couple different cultures sprinkled in. There was definitely references to Japanese mythology as well as hints of Native American mythology, and possibly a few others. This I really enjoyed. It was an interesting world to explore, and I'm hoping to learn more about it, and perhaps see it more vividly in the next two books.

For the most part, this is a pretty action-heavy read, interspersed with world-building. The girls have never really been outside of their village before, so the reader is learning about their world along with them once the journey starts. There is also the matter of the monsters, which nobody believed existed outside of old stories, becoming all too real. One complaint I have is the frequency with which characters a) wandered off and got attacked, b) got kidnapped/taken prisoner/hostage, or c) both. That was a little frustrating.

This story is told in third person limited with alternating sections between Moria and Ashyn. Each section is perhaps five to eight chapters long. For me, the dual point of view was effective in getting me to keep reading, since often each section ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and I was curious about what was going to happen in the other story line, though my attention would generally be pretty quick to shift to the plight of whomever the focus was on at the time. However, it did feel as if Moria's story line was a little more developed.

As characters, Moria and Ashyn were foils to each other in a lot of ways. Moria is the tempermantal, impulsive fighter, and Ashyn is more introspective, quieter and more the diplomat. This is something that they both acknowledge. I'm hoping that Ashyn's confidence in herself will develop throughout the trilogy, and that Moria might grow to be able to temper herself more. I'm not really sure what to think about the two male leads that we've encountered so far (I'm thinking there might be another one, and fearing a love triangle, but I might be being paranoid). I have a long history of not being attracted to the love interest(s), but I'm hoping that we get to see them develop more as characters in the next two books, especially given the revelation at the end. They don't really feel like people to me at this point, if that makes sense. I also feel as if the cast is kind of small right now, and I'm hoping for some new faces in the next book.

As for the end, there's a bit of a cliffhanger there, and I definitely feel like there's more to the story (it is part of a series, so this makes sense). While there were some things in the book that I wasn't thrilled with, I still enjoyed it and I think the next book has the potential to be an enjoyable read, just keep the kidnappings to a minimum. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next, and exploring more of what I find a promising fantasy world.

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