Friday, June 20, 2014

Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha Trilogy, book #3
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

I'll try to refrain from spoilers as much as possible, but I may allude to circumstances in previous books, so if you've not yet read them yet, get on that right now!

Likely, if you're reading this review, you've already read this final book and just want to know my thoughts. Or you've begun the series and want to know if you should continue, if the payoff is worth it. It is, my friend. It is. But this also means that you don't really need me to touch on all the things I normally would in a review, like world-building, characterization, romance, and the story's predictability. Right? Okay, well, there are probably a few things I could still add. ;0)

So...Leigh Bardugo is pretty daring with her finale here. Maybe not as daring as others in similar situations, but I think that most of her fan-base will appreciate the bold choices she made in this final book. Characters you've grown to care about die. Innocents die. This is a war Alina is waging, after all. But I think that Bardugo wrote the story that needed to be told, not the one that everyone necessarily wanted to read. And that's not a bad thing. It's honest. It's brutal. And these characters won me over from the very first page of Shadow and Bone, and I'll not disgrace them by disparaging the author or her story because of who may or may not have survived this battle or who may have ended up with who in the end.

I think you can tell by my rating how much I enjoyed this last book in the Grisha Trilogy. It was action-packed and much faster-paced than I was expecting, though much of the beginning came to pass with little effort, all things considered. I have to wonder if that's because I recently re-listened to the previous book in preparation for Ruin and Rising. What I mean is, Alina was quite alone there at the end of Siege and Storm. She had no idea who'd survived the vicious skirmish with the Darkling and his forces and few of her compatriots remained. Even Mal was distant. And yet, it wasn't long before a plan was hatched and Alina was back to being the oft-adored and somewhat feared Sun Summoner. Basically, it seemed as though things turned around pretty quickly for our rag-tag group of rebels.

The characters have all been pretty well fleshed-out at this point, so Bardugo focused primarly on the plot and she did so aggressively. Not that I'm complaining. I love where she took this story and how completely unexpected some of it was. And I mean spit out my drink while I'm reading unpredictable. And that didn't just happen once. One might think that the author wanted me to waste perfectly good kvas while reading her story. And while her bold decisions with this final novel were plenty, shocking, and somewhat unprecedented, I believe they were entirely true to the story she was trying to tell. In other words, I LOVED the shock-factor.

***Serious spoilers in the next few paragraphs but not for THIS book.***

I also really enjoyed where Bardugo took the romance, no matter how many directions and iterations it's been through, though this is probably where I'll differ in opinion among my peers. But I won't mention why unless you ask me in private.

Alina loved Mal for ages. Mal is a bit of a playboy and thinks of Alina as just his best friend. Alina finds out she is Grisha and has a tryst with the Darkling, only to discover just how evil he is and escapes. Mal finds her and they are in love. (I say that in my taunting voice because I never really felt that connection...or liked Mal all that much, to be honest.) End of Book One.

The Darkling finds Mal and Alina together, captures them and throws them on a ship. Because of the amplifier, Alina is tied to the Darkling, feels a pull toward him. Sturmhond, privateer and captain of the ship, mutinies against the Darkling and saves Alina and Mal, gets them back on dry land after helping Alina secure the second amplifier. Sturmhond is not who he says he is, propositions Alina. (I want her to say YES!) Mal thinks himself unworthy of Alina, distances himself from her. The Darkling visits Alina daily through visions, drives her to the brink of madness. Still, she feels the pull to him; he and she are the same, after all. The Darkling attacks, Alina sacrifices herself, and Mal collects what's left of her. Everyone regroups but Sturmhond is not with the group.

And that brings us to where we begin in Ruin and Rising. Mal starts off being his pig-headed self, but circumstances change and he's all about Alina again. Everyone is all about Alina again. Even Zoya, if you can believe that. I kind of love it.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite aspects of this series: the humor. It's such a serious storyline for the most part -- war against the most evil of evils, fighting prejudices against those with magic versus those without -- that I'm always more entertained than I probably should be by the banter and rapport these characters have with each other. That's probably why Sturmhond quickly became my favorite of the potential love interests, his gift for making light of any situation, but it's also the essence of the story: that you have to be able to see the light through all the darkness.

The Grisha Trilogy is easily one of my favorite high fantasy series. Its wonderfully intricate world, reminiscent of old-world Russia and its neighbors, is simply gorgeous to imagine. The characters, with all of their faults, through all of their trials and tribulations, make me want to know them in real life. And the story itself begs for a happy ending. And even if all of the characters didn't find their happy ending, I am completely satisfied with this conclusion. There was so much growth throughout the series, but what really made this series epic was the last 30% or so of this final book. I mean, WOW. I shall now wait impatiently for Leigh Bardugo's next book, which appears to be a story set in the Grisha world but with new characters to love -- and hate, as the case may be. This author definitely knows how to make us do both with her fabulous words. I hope you've enjoyed your time with this series as much as I have.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, raised in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she hides out in Hollywood and indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as makeup artist L.B. Benson.

Her debut novel, Shadow & Bone (Holt Children's/Macmillan) is now a New York Times Best Seller.

Find Leigh:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Tumblr


  1. I'm so glad to hear it was wonderful! I've heard nothing but rave reviews for this book so I'm sooo excited. I hope my copy from the library comes in soon or I'll have to go buy it haha ;P

    1. Hehe...I'd probably do that, too, just so I could read it before someone ruined it for me.

  2. I loved it too. I was definitely surprised by some of the twists and turns. And I'll email you so we can discuss the romantic resolution without any spoilers...
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

  3. Yay! I felt about the same way about this one :-) I love that Leigh stuck with the story she wanted to tell. I thought it was beautifully done as a book and series.

    1. Exactly. It was everything I'd hoped and expected from this series, and I can't wait to read the spin-off she's writing!

  4. Am I the only one not raving about this series? I feel so out of place. :( I can't even get excited about this one. Lol.

    Great review, Jen. And thanks for the rehash.

    1. Maybe? I'm sure there will be some who aren't when they get to the end of this one, but for the most part, it seems to be pretty well-received. :)

  5. I loved it! I got so scared when some things about Mal were revealed that I didn't continue until I had spoilers knowing things would work out! LOL Alina and Mal were perfect for each other. I loved Nikolai too though. He was charming with great quotes. I loved The Darkling too but in the way I love the psycho villain. He was extra crazy in this book! I was like take him down already! I loved the After. All books should have epilogues. I love them.

    1. Oh, I know! I had to put it down several times to catch my breath. Did not see that coming AT ALL! I love Nikolai, too, though he'll always be Sturmhond -- and mine! -- to me. :P I'm not usually crazy about epilogues, but this one was rather beautiful. Glad you enjoyed this finale as much as I did. :)

  6. YES!! Love your review! I have a lot of the same feelings. A lot of people are FURIOUS over the romance ending, but I can see how it works. The one that everyone wants to see as the love winner will get a chance, and I hope that Bardugo expands his story and releases more books with him as the lead. YES.

    Also, the humor - YES! It was so spot-on and it really helped move the book along, because this was one dark, painful book. No reason to bleed all of the time.

    1. Thanks! I just hate how much focus is put upon the romance(s) in these books because there's so much else at play that it seems rather minuscule in the scheme of things. But I hope the character you're referencing gets his story told later, too. :) And, yes, I agree...the humor really balanced the darkness...this would have been a really depressing book without it.


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