The second book in her Age of Legends trilogy which jumped its way to the top of my reading list. It took me two days to read it simply because I unfortunately have a social and work life which needed my attention. It follows on the story of Moira and Ashyn, the keeper and Seeker of Ashwood who lost their village and now are searching for the children that have been taken.
In this second instalment their characters have come to life even more, we see the gentler side of Moira with her feelings for others developing and hardened side of Ashyn as she learns to deal with apparently non-reciprocating emotions. As with many twins in novels, films or other media types they have to separate personalities which offset and play off of each other brilliantly; and as with twins they help each other grow with the sides of themselves they are not fully in tune with. With the help of each other and their bond beasts (the hound and wildcat which personify their personalities) they struggle through the trials they face. With an unexpected twist at the end of Sea of Shadows the girls must now deal with this new found knowledge and somehow use it to their advantage.
The novel deals with many of the issues faced in the real like young adult world; the non-reciprocating emotions, the lack of emotions or too many emotions for different people while dealing with an oncoming war. With Gavril being the main catalyst for most of these it is hard to like such a character (for the record I like Gavril and I still do, I think there’s more in store for him). Moira’s back and forth with him paints the perfect picture of most teenage girls coming into their sexuality and not knowing what to do with it. Ashyn is the innocent (or seemingly innocent) girl who is aware of her emotions but is unable to process them properly. I’m not sure how to process Ronan in with the love situations, I don’t quite “get him”. It feels like there is too much going on with him that isn’t being fully addressed, only spoken about in snippets.
Like many of her novels Empire of Night is faced paced to keep up with the demand for action and information. Even though we are being moved from place to place Armstrong’s description keeps the places feeling alive (or at least real in the case of abandoned towns) and allows the reader to take in the consequences of the actions in the book. With each new plot twist (and there are many) the reader is kept on their toes and I will admit the end of the novel I did not see coming; now the novel has had time to sink in it does seem like the next logical step but I will say no more, in the words of River Song “Spoilers.”
I have read her adult and young adult books alike and the level of detail that goes into each is impeccable. The research required into the lore and myth of each of her novels (especially the Age of Legends trilogy) must be large and yet with all of that research it does not feel like you are being spoon fed the information. Armstrong’s grasp on the use of expository detail is extraordinary, while it is mainly used within the first novel to set up the story she uses it well to re-introduce readers into the world once more.
The only downside to reading one of her books is that I am left wanting more, while ending on a cliff hanger is good the gaps between release dates are long which means something can be lost by the next installment. I have already pre-ordered her stand alone books which I will no doubt be reviewing on here soon. There is a reason she is one of my favourite authors, the reason I want to write and do well with it.