Not Stepping Into These Woods: “Empire of Night”

21480854Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong
HarperCollins: April 7, 2015
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Free From Library

I’d go there again!

Empire of Night is Kelley Armstrong’s second book in her Age of Legends trilogy, and it’s a book that leaves me anxiously awaiting the final installment’s publication.

Empire of Night picks up soon after the events of the previous book, Sea of Shadows. Moria and Ashyn are more or less prisoners in the opulent court of the Emperor. Both young women are frustrated at the Emperor’s lack of action on behalf of the missing children of Edgewood. However, soon both Moira and Ashyn are able to strike out and discover the truth when they are sent by the Emperor to discover what Alvar Kitsune has done with the missing children. 

Accompanying Moira and Ashyn are Prince Tyrus and the roguish young thief, Ronan. For those that have read the previous book, you will recognize the character of Ronan. Tyrus is a more recent addition to the trilogy, only introduced at the end of Sea of Shadows. Both young men offer the potential of romance for each of the twin sisters. For Moira, Tyrus represents someone that is truthful and respects her abilities. Moira is smarting after the seeming betrayal of Gavril Kitsune (i.e. the son of the bad guy). So for Moira, I think Tyrus offers the safe choice, which is not to say Tyrus is a bad character, he’s awesome, but those that ship Gavril and Moira might be a tad disappointed. As for Ashyn, Ronan confuses her. Ashyn is the quieter of the sisters and is less experienced in the romance department, so when Ronan pulls back after initiating the start of a potential romance, Ashyn is justifiably confused. Romance reader that I am, I really enjoyed the emotional turmoil both sister was experiencing as well as the contrast that each sister presented.

While the romance is satisfying, I wouldn’t say that Empire of the Night is strictly a romance. Yes, romance is a big part of the trilogy, but I also really appreciate the world, the characters, and the depiction of a positive relationship between sisters. The world that Armstrong has created is fun. There’s magic, ghosts, and mythical creatures coming to life. And, the author doesn’t spend endless pages describing how this world came about and this is my kind of world building. Secondly, the characters are fabulous. Not only are the characters of Moira and Ashyn well done (love how different they are), but the secondary characters are also really great. Due to the narration style readers really know Moira and Ashyn best, yet the secondary characters never fell flat. There’s more to Tyrus, Gavril, and Ronan, and the author conveys that despite the focus on Moira and Ashyn.

Lastly, I quite appreciated the fact that the relationship between Moira and Ashyn is positive. Yes, these sisters are quite different and there is the occasional friction between them, but it’s clear that they both feel a huge amount of loyalty towards one another. There’s a respect between the two of them for their differences. Moira is a fighter and outspoken, Ashyn is more cautious and more book learned. Their distinctive skills balance each other out and its clear that each sister doesn’t resent the other for their abilities. My only complaint is that I would like to see the two of them interact with each other more often. Lots of things are happening in Empire of Night so Moira and Ashyn are often separated dealing with their own conflicts.

Empire of Night is an immensely satisfying follow-up to Age of Shadows; in fact, I would argue that this second book is better than the first. The momentum that began in the first book is notched up to another level. This is the perfect read for those looking for an adventurous read from the comfort of their armchair (you couldn’t pay me to wander around in the dark wooded areas described in Empire of Night).

Similar Reads

Fox and Phoenix by Beth Bernobich is another fun YA fantasy read. This one immediately came to mind because it also focuses on the presence of spirits in it’s worlds. And for those that liked the romance between Ashyn and Ronan, you will likely really appreciate the character of Kai and his complicated friendship with his best friend, Yan.

Fox and Phoenix (Long City, #1)

For those that enjoyed the mythical tone of Armstrong’s Empire of Night, I suggest following up with Alexandra Bracken’s Brightly Woven. The main character reminded me a lot of Ashyn as Sydelle is quieter with a hidden strength.

Brightly Woven

For those that identified more with Moira, Sara Raasch’s Snow Like Ashes is probably a good bet. Raasch’s main character, Meira is just as tough and outspoken as Moira. There’s also a look of great action and adventure here.

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)

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