Monday, July 16, 2018

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends, #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
Synopsis (via Goodreads): In the Forest of the Dead, where the empire’s worst criminals are exiled, twin sisters Moria and Ashyn are charged with a dangerous task. For they are the Keeper and the Seeker, and each year they must quiet the enraged souls of the damned.

Only this year, the souls will not be quieted.

Ambushed and separated by an ancient evil, the sisters’ journey to find each other sends them far from the only home they’ve ever known. Accompanied by a stubborn imperial guard and a dashing condemned thief, the girls cross a once-empty wasteland, now filled with reawakened monsters of legend, as they travel to warn the emperor. But a terrible secret awaits them at court—one that will alter the balance of their world forever.

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Sea of Shadows worked really well as an audiobook. I'm starting to think that fantasy books with elaborate new worlds will always be a better fit when I'm listening to them. Understandably, there is a lot of world-building and thorough explanations of the things we're unfamiliar with, and I think listening ultimately gives me a better experience. I know for some people these books can feel long and wordy, but I actually prefer it. I had similar feelings about Mercedes Lackey's Hunter series. The worlds are completely new and there's so much to learn...  I love it!

I'm also a fan of books about twins. I don't know if it's because I have twins myself, or if I just find their relationships interesting. Moria and Ashyn are two very different people that look exactly the same. I loved their friendship and the bonds they shared with each other and their beasts. Daigo (a wildcat) and Tova (a Hound of the Immortals) were two of my favorite characters, and they never spoke. However, they could communicate with their eyes, sounds, and movements, and I thought they were valuable companions and assets to the story. 

I enjoy Kelley Armstrong's writing, and have read a few of her other books, but this one was the most violent by far. There are a lot of detailed descriptions of fighting and dismemberment, and not all of them were expected. I was taken by surprise quite a few times when someone was attacked for seemingly no reason, or an unexpected monster made an appearance. Armstrong kept me on my toes, but even those violent interactions were tempered by lengthy descriptions. It drew out the battles, fights, escapes, and everything else. I was okay with all of this, but it does cause the pacing to be a little slow at times.

The story really picks up at the end, and I've already started listening to the second book, Empire of Night. I love that there is already a different setting, and that no one really seems to stay in one place for too long. There's also a constant rotation of characters, and I enjoy how well Armstrong writes all of them. There is always someone new to figure out. What are their motives? Whose side will the be on? I think this has the potential to be one of my favorite fantasy series!

30 comments:

  1. I always love the books by the author (usually) and it's one I haven't tried yet so I confess that I'm curious

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    1. I've been trying to go back and read all the books by authors I know I love (Melissa Marr, Jenn Bennett, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Kelley Armstrong, etc.), because there are quite a few I've missed over the years! This was given to me last December from a Secret Santa (the one The Broke and the Bookish do every year), so I decided to start with it. :)

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  2. I haven't even heard of this book yet, but it sounds amazing!

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    1. The entire trilogy is already out (they all have audiobooks, if that's your thing), so you won't have to wait between books! I went into the second book as soon I finished the first. There are children's lives at stake! ;)

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    2. Ooh, I definitely need to give this a try!

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  3. I’m ok with slower books with lots of world building but I have to be in the mood. I hear good things about this series. Now Ijust have to decide to read it or listen.

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    1. I have a copy of the first book, but I opted to listen to the audiobook instead. It's just what I was in the mood for, and like I said... I tend to like getting through fantasy books that way. I hope you decide to read it! I want to see what you think. :)

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  4. I've read quite a few by Kelley Armstrong books and I've liked most of them. I'm not sure how I feel about this one though.

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    1. Have you read this one? Are you unsure about the synopsis?

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  5. I've never heard of this book. I read the Darkest Powers series by her and thought that it was alright. Probably will check this book out. Sounds like her writing has matured a bit more from your post.

    Elle Inked @ Keep on Reading

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    1. I remember loving her Darkest Powers series a few years ago! I think books that include necromancy are interesting... it's one I've been wanting to re-read, because most of the details are fuzzy.

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  6. I've wondered about this one but haven't grabbed it yet, looks like I need to! Thanks for the heads up on the violence.

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    1. Let me know what you think! I'm stating to think they're going to be even more violent as the story progresses. :(

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  7. I loved her Otherworld books but I'm thinking that the pacing could be a problem for me. Violence doesn't bother me but slow does!

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    1. It's very detailed and informative, but I think that actually hurts the pacing in some places. It's why I prefer the audiobooks! It doesn't bother me as much.

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  8. I used to love Armstrong's books but then they all started having a sameness to them so i took a break.

    Fantasy isn't quite my genre but I might give it a try one day.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I've only read her Darkest Powers series (years and years ago), and now this one! I might have read something else, but I just don't remember. I'm enjoying the audio for this series, but I don't think it's one I would have the patience to sit down and read. <3

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  9. I'm glad you enjoyed Sea of Shadows! I read it awhile back and remember how dark and gritty the atmosphere was—which I really enjoyed. Plus, twins and magical creatures!

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    1. Very dark and gritty! The warriors might fight with honor, but that doesn't apply to creatures brought to life by sorcery. They maim and kill for pleasure, and most people have no defense for that. Have you read the entire series? I'm hallway through the second book and things are only getting more twisted and dark. I'm insanely curious how all of this is going to end!

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  10. I've been loving her City of the Lost books but I haven't read her other stuff, other than a YA that came out last year. From what I've read though I'd probably like anything she writes! This almost sounds more like epic fantasy too, which surprises me as I think of Armstrong as mostly a urban fantasy author. Glad to hear this is so good though! I may have to try these...

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    1. I haven't read those! If you're loving them, I might need to try them next. What YA did she write last year? I'm really behind on her books, but I've been trying to go back and read more book from authors I've previously loved. I also want to read any series I started but never went back to finish. I would say this feels like epic fantasy, but I'm not very good at separating the genres so definitively. If you're in the mood for something like this, it's probably something you'd like! :)

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    2. Oh The City of the Lost books are the bomb! They're adult though, not YA, if that matters. Not adult as in anything too heavy, they're just not YA. And the YA she DID write last year was Missing. I thought it was pretty good. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25487124-missing

      I may very well try those, just read your review of #2 and it sounds amazeballs.

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    3. I read both YA and Adult, so no worries there! If you like darker adult books with a paranormal twist (and some romance), you should check out The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark (she has this series listed under her real name and her pseudonym, so it can be weird to find). It's one of my all-time favorites!

      I will look into Missing, but I definitely want to read The City of the Lost books!

      I finished the third and final book last night! :)

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  11. Wow I'd almost forgotten about these! I read the trilogy as it was coming out (so that was a while ago...) and I do remember it being pretty gory... and also intriguing. From what I recall they had a kind of different feel than a lot of the YA I was reading tat the time... and I'm pretty sure I remember feeling like it went some really unexpected directions. I hope you enjoy the rest of the trilogy!

    I really like the covers as well, especially of Sea of Shadows. (Sometimes I'm shallow.)

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    1. This doesn't really feel like YA to me, but I guess they are the right ages... the violence and content make me think NA would be a better fit. The time period would indicate that a seventeen-year-old to them is like someone in their 20s to us.

      Very gory! I've cringed many, many times at some of the things they've described. I'm surprised at how many twists and turns this series has had, and I'm really curious how it's going to end. I started the final book today!

      I'm addicted to pretty covers, haha. <3

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    2. Maybe partly because Kelley Armstrong mostly writes adult fiction her YA has more of a mature feel? (The other YA from her that I picked up had quite a few corpses in it... Wow that was a long time ago, pretty much back when I was just getting into YA.)

      I think it was interesting how she pulled shades of horror into this foray into epic fantasy!

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    3. The main character in her Darkest Powers series was a necromancer, so bodies were a given! It seems to be a reoccurring theme, haha. I read that series ages ago!

      Truly! She made certain scenes pretty horrific, but somehow still fantastical.

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    4. I can just see her pitching this series...

      Kelley Armstrong: so it's YA and... wait for it... there are a lot of dead bodies
      Person: I feel like you've done this before
      Kelley Armstrong: no but this is epic fantasy and the dead bodies mostly stay dead probably. OR DO THEY?
      Kelley Armstrong: there are just a lot of them. That are dead.

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  12. I adore all Kelley's books but for some reason I struggled with this one a lot. So glad you liked it though and are already enjoying book two. :D Wonderful review!

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    1. I'm sorry you struggled with this one! I'm really enjoying it. I'm actually already on the third book now, lol. I've been staying up late just to listen to the audiobook (they're really long, like 11-12 hours). Which of her books have you liked? I've only read this series and her Darkest Powers series.

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