________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 20. . . .January 29, 2016


Empire of Night. (Age of Legends Trilogy, #2)

Kelley Armstrong.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2015.
424 pp., hardcover & epub, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-385-67201-6 (hc.), ISBN 978-0-385-67202-3 (epub).

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Kim Aippersbach.

*** / 4


Tyrus kicked him down, this time in the nose. His blade flashed as it cleaved into the warrior's arm, cutting clean through the bone and—

Ashyn staggered back as the warrior's arm flew through the air, sword still clenched in his hand. The warrior screamed and blood arced and all she could think was,
I need to bind it. Bind the severed stump so he wouldn't bleed out and die.

But he must die. He dies or we die.

The shock of that hit her and she gasped for air, the warrior still gurgling with pain, stumbling toward his arm as if to retrieve the blade.

They were not playing with daggers. This was a sword fight. How did they test a warrior's sword? By making sure it was sharp enough to cleave through three corpses with a single blow.


Empire of Night is the second book in the “Age of Legends” trilogy which began with Sea of Shadows. A traitorous warlord, Alvar Kitsune, has set himself against the emperor and is attacking towns with spirit warriors and taking children hostage. Twin sisters Moira and Ashyn, the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood, set out from the imperial city with former thief Ronan and bastard prince Tyrus to find the kidnapped children of Edgewood.

     They find another murdered town and are led on a false trail into a trap by another warlord who has joined Alvar's side. In the ensuing battle, Moira is captured by Alvar's men. Ronan and Ashyn drag wounded Tyrus to safety. When they have healed enough to travel, they head back to inform the emperor of the new betrayal, but they find out Tyrus and Moira have been accused of treachery.

     Meanwhile Alvar puts his son Gavril in charge of imprisoned Moira. In the first book, Gavril was Moira's friend, and she is still reeling from his betrayal. Alvar plans to marry Moira to Gavril, but Gavril helps Moira escape.

     Tyrus returns to rescue Moira, just in time to see her escaping the Kitsune compound. They fight off fiend dogs and travel to the warlord Okami's domain where they secretly meet the emperor, who does not believe the accusations against Tyrus but is unable to publicly support him.

     Ronan and Ashyn are ambushed on their way to rendezvous with Tyrus. Ashyn awakens in a cave where strangers tell her they are her mother's family. She doesn't know what happened to Ronan.

     The last revelation of the novel is that the emperor is secretly working with Gavril, and they want Moira to return with him to Alvar Kitsune so she can act as a spy.

     The plot of Empire of Night is full of action and incident, with lots of battles and monsters. Romance develops between Moira and Tyrus and simmers unacknowledged between Ashyn and Ronan. Many of the action scenes feel somewhat contrived, and any sense of forward momentum is frustrated by the characters shuffling back and forth across the map, constantly changing their mind about their destination. The twists and reversals were the predictable ones for a fantasy of this type.

     The characters are likeable and have believable motivations. The tone is mostly lighthearted romantic adventure with occasional scenes of creepy horror and suspense that seemed out of place. Magic is not explained or developed to any depth: Ashyn and Moira can speak to the spirits when it is convenient to the plot and not otherwise.

     Empire of Night is not the best-written YA fantasy out there, but it will appeal to readers who like action and romance in a fantasy setting as well as fans of Armstrong's other work.


Kim Aippersbach is a writer, editor and mother of three living in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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