Book Review: Forest of Ruin by Kelley Armstrong

“As they neared the spot from which the noise had come, Moria saw a hand lying on the pathway. It appeared to be attached to a body, which was a relief. Again, these days, one could not guarantee such a thing.”

In the closing chapter to Kelley Armstrong’s Age of Legends trilogy, Forest of Ruin has readers racing to know the fate of our loveable cast of characters after Empire of Night left us with a dramatic cliff-hanger. Ashyn and Moria race against the clock before the creatures of Alvar Kitsune’s creation continue to plague the lands, while trying to save alive themselves. Will be finally know the fate of the village children? What will happen with Alvar Kitsune? Can the Seeker and Keeper rid the world of the darkness that plagues the lands? Will Moria and Ashyn finally meet again?


25174874Title: Forest of Ruin (Age of Legends #3)
Author: Kelley Armstrong

Age Group & Genre(s): Young Adult, High Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Magic, Romance
Mood: Dark; Fantastical; Suspenseful
Point of View: Multiple First Person Protagonists
Pace: Fast-paced

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 2016
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 448

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 lie. And it may not be where their hearts would lead them…

Source: http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/book/forest-of-ruin/

Thoughts

When I read a trilogy, I always worry about the final book for they tend to fall into the inevitable “lackluster syndrome”. The story and characters and drive to know the conclusion becomes rather impossible since I’m putting all my effort into simply enjoying the novel. However, Armstrong’s Forest of Ruin was able to save itself from falling completely into the “lackluster syndrome”. The story, characters and overall conclusion was all rather appealing. And I still wanted to continue to read the novel. Unfortunately, I still found Sea of Shadows and Empire of Night much more enjoyable reads than the final in this high fantasy trilogy.

The story is still the same as the other two; two girls finding a way to save the village children and the world while also balancing possible love interests and attempting to stay alive. I actually prefer this when it comes to storytelling – the whole “save the world” or “solve every problem” in the first book of a series seems unrealistic and rushed to me. At any rate, Armstrong fan knows that she definitely added some more elements to the story to spice things up a bit…

New fights! New characters! New landscapes!

One thing that was great about this novel is the questions are answered…FINALLY! Armstrong ties all our questions up in a neat little bow, ready for use to untangle and come to the conclusions at last. The village children, the fate of the characters, the fight against Gavril’s father…we discover it all!

Similar to Empire of Night, Forest of Ruin has more of a balance between dialogue and action scenes. Regrettably, this wonderful aspect of the novel didn’t cut it for me when it came to trying to finish the book. I struggled…hard. It almost felt like a chore to finish the novel. Certain parts were great and grand, whereas other parts felt like my eyes were actually trying to sink into the back of my head in order to hide from the pages of this novel.

…It’s hard for me to say this since I am a HUGE fan of Kelley Armstrong, but the story was just “meh”.

I also wasn’t thrilled with the fact that the story was 70% Moria’s perspective and 30% Ashlyn’s. Moria’s great and all, but I enjoyed how the first and second novels felt more of an equal balance. Forest of Ruin basically made it seem as though Ashyn was always an afterthought, which bothered me. The Age of Legends trilogy is about Moria AND Ashyn, not Moria with a little bit of Ashyn. With the first two books having an equal balance between the two, it felt weird to suddenly change to mainly one character over the other. I wanted to know more about Ashyn’s blight and her resolutions.

Armstrong has a great writing style, as is present in all of her works. I found the language descriptive, giving just enough detail to paint an image in your head of what’s happening without completely removing any creative abilities to imagine your own images. As I mentioned earlier though, the story just killed it for me! No matter HOW great the writing style is, the story was rather mundane. Everything felt rushed and ties were coming together way too quickly. It was a little messy for my liking…

There weren’t too many new characters, other than Moria and Ashyn’s “family” from the mountain area – oh yeah, they are an exciting bunch. There is one amazing new character, but I can’t tell you since it basically spoils one of the coolest elements of the story…so you’re just going to have to read it J. The character development was still great though! Where the story lacked the character development took over. Out of all the characters, Gavril has made the most changes. From ally to traitor to close friendship and ally again, Gavril has gone all over the map in this trilogy. The more he changes, the more we discover more about him. It’s a great back and forth tug-o-war action happening with him. Prince Tyrus and Ronan do develop a little more, but I found they had already done a lot of their own growing in the second novel; this goes for Moria and Ashyn as well.

If you are wondering about the relationships and romances…yes, you will get to find out who ends up with who by the end of the trilogy. I found the ending relationships perfect matches, though I know a few of you may beg to differ. When you sit back and think about them, they really do make more sense than some of the other ways the ending relationships could’ve went.

One part of the book that really bothered me was something Ashyn mentions at the end of the story. Near the end, Ashyn talks about how much things have changed and the challenges to come. While reflecting, she goes into detail about heroes versus side characters. Moria, Gavril, and Prince Tyrus are seen as the heroes of this story – they make the greater sacrifices and change the most. Ashyn sees herself as someone who wouldn’t make the sacrifice, a person who does the healing and mending after the heroes have come in to save the day. It bothered me as I find heroes are not only those who make the big sacrifices – they are the people who take care of others, gather together and train others, research and find information to save those in harm’s way, and so forth. I think it was a rather upsetting image at the end for Ashyn to think of herself as a mere sideline character when she was so much more.

Such as in real life, heroes come in all forms. I think it’s important to give readers a positive image when it comes to what defines a hero. People need to know that heroes aren’t always the ones on the battlefield. They are the people who volunteer to give aid to those in need, who adopt animals and children who have no home, who educate people so they can one day makes choices for themselves…

We learn and grow from books, wanting to be the kind of people we read about…and this didn’t cut it for me. I may also be thinking WAY too much into that final little section of Ashyn’s thoughts, but for some reason is really rubbed me the wrong way (I also really love Ashyn so I could be completely biased…).

Forest of Ruin was an okay ending to the Age of Legends trilogy. The questions are answered, the fate of all the characters are known, love interests come to a close, and we have an idea as to where the characters are going next in their adventures. It plots a little messy and boring at times, but the character development makes up for this. If you already have read Sea of Shadows and Empire of Night, I highly recommend reading this novel simply for the answers. This trilogy is definitely not a great example of Kelley Armstrong’s works but it’s still an easy and nice YA fantasy read that I think you’ll enjoy.

Rating

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Next Read Suggestions

The Mirror King (The Orphan Queen #2) by Jodi Meadows
Pretty Dark Sacrifice (Pretty Dark Nothing #2) by Heather L. Reid
Poison Princess (The Arcana Chronicles #1) by Kresley Cole
Day Zero (The Arcana Chronicles #3.5) by Kresley Cole

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