Thursday, June 2, 2016

#Friday Review - Forest of Ruin by Kelley Armstrong (Young Adult, Fantasy)

Series: Age of Legends # 3
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

In a world at war, who can you trust?
The empire rests on the edge of a knife, and sisters Ashyn and Moria are the handle and the blade. Desperate to outmaneuver the evil Alvar Kitsune, whose hold on the people grows stronger every day, Emperor Tatsu begs Moria to put aside past grievances and ally with Gavril—at least long enough to make an attempt on Alvar’s life. 

Meanwhile, reunited with her long-lost grandfather, Ashyn discovers that she is the key to a ritual that could reawaken an ancient dragon and turn the tide of the coming battle in their favor.
But with lies and betrayal lurking around every corner, Ashyn and Moria will have to decide once and for all where their allegiances are. And it may not be where their hearts would lead them…

Forest of Ruin is the third and final installment in Kelley Armstrong's Age of Legends trilogy. Forest of Ruins picks up right where Empire of Night left off. Twin sisters Moria (Keeper) and Ashlyn (Seeker) were raised in a tiny village of Edgewood. In their village, they were the ones who were responsible for keeping angry spirits at bay, and putting them to rest. But, after ancient monsters awakened and slaughtered everyone in their village, including their father, and took the children away with them, the sisters were forced to flee.

Each of the girls has a bond-animal which carries the spirit of a great warrior. Moria and her companion Daigo escaped with Gavril, while Ashlyn and her companion Tova found herself with Ronan, an exile from the Forest of the Dead. The time they should have been spending together training by older and wiser women in their positions, was instead trying to find ways to retrieve the children of Edgewood, survive dark and dangerous shadow stalkers, betrayals, and villains who are willing to wage a war using innocents as their fodder. 

At times, the sisters have been treated as though they were prisoners by the Emperor and scorned by their peers. Other times, they have been used to send a message to their nemesis Alvar Kitsune who has the ability to create creepy shadow stalkers. Forest of Ruin alternatives narratives between the sisters. As Forest of Ruin opens, Moria and Ashlyn are once again separated by circumstances. More of the story's focus is on Moria, rather than on Ashlyn. 

Moria, captured by Alvar Kitsune and imprisoned so that she is forced to marry Gavril, has escaped thanks to Gavril. But, her brief respite doesn't last long. She is ordered by Emperor Tatsu to return to her prison with Gavril with the hopes she can be a spy for him or better yet, kill him. This doesn't sit well with Moria or her new friend, Prince Tyrus, the bastard son of the Emperor who she has fallen for.  Moria isn't one to hold her tongue no matter who she is speaking with. I would dare say that Moria is obstinate at times, impatient, perhaps impetuous, and yes, she has taken ill-conceived actions. But, she's got a whole lot of reasons to act the way she does after being betrayed, lied to, and tricked by Gavril.  

Meanwhile, Ashlyn & Ronan have stumbled upon a man who claims he is her grandfather and needs her for an important mission. That mission is to wake sleeping dragons so that they can help save the Empire. Did I mention that there were DRAGONS? Good. Say hello to Zuri! Adorable little Zuri who gave me a smile every time she was in a scene. I was kind of disappointed with Armstrong not spending equal time with Ashlyn. Yes, she is the more serious, quieter, and softer of the sisters. But, I adored her relationship with Ronan. I liked that she accepts who she is and doesn't whine about her sister getting the hero treatment while she's in the background. 

By the way, I am totally OK with how the romance ends up sorting itself out. I am totally OK that the three involved could remain best friends. I would have had to mention that this story tried it's hardest to have a brutal love triangle, but in the end, Armstrong chose the best options for BOTH girls. 

Summary: Yes, I would recommend this trilogy. Yes, I am going to warn you about a heart breaking cliffhanger ending to Empire of Night. Yes, I ask that you read these books in order because they are ALL connected. You can not read one, without reading the others. No, I am not going to use the silly S world to refer to the coupling so leave me alone. The. End.

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