Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha Trilogy #3
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on June 17, 2014
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 417
Read From: 7.5.14 - 7.6.14

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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? This is my favorite cover out of the entire series. It's so pretty! With the red and the black and the silver and the gold firebird - so gorgeous!!

Characters: I can positively and actually say that I liked everyone in Ruin and Rising. Alina has grown so much as a character. She's past doubting herself; she's done being used by everyone else. She does what needs to be done, no matter what. She's become a strong leader, confident, courageous. She's determined to take command of the situation and gain the upper hand. I always liked her, but I really enjoyed seeing her so in control in this last installment. She went from a poor, sickly orphan who didn't want the responsibility as the only Sun Summoner in Ravka. Then she gained some confidence, but was still being used by everyone else. Finally, she comes into her own and makes for a formidable opponent for the Darkling. Nikolai, of course, was as adorable and hilarious and awesome as always. I can't get enough of him. But Mal . . . . I finally liked Mal. I finally had no gripes about him. Mal has put aside his jealousy; he has become resigned to what Alina must do. And rather than fighting her about it, he stands at her side. He'll gladly go down fighting, and what will be, will be. I loved Genya and David; Tamar and Tulya; even Zoya. Sure, she's still a snot, but she has her uses. As for the Darkling. . . .I don't really even know where to start with him, my thoughts and opinions about him are so divided. Before I knew he was the villain of the story (i.e. back in the early days of the first book), I really, really liked him. Then it turned out he was the villain, and I was all, Okay, that was clever. But then he just got creepy with Alina - and he still is - but it somehow worked. And then . . . . this book. I want to call him more an anti-hero than a villain. Except, unlike Loki, he's not under the influence of a weird alien artifact or being threatened or tortured by other aliens when he kills millions. But I wanted to be able to time travel back to when the Darkling was a little boy and steal him away so he couldn't become what he is now. The Darkling is a tragic character - there's no getting around that fact. My heart hurt whenever he was present. I knew that there was just no way his story would end happily.

How I feel watching or reading all my favorite fandoms. Sometimes writing and then I'm like "oh yeah, that's me" :P

The Romance: It's toned down a lot in this installment, compared to Siege and Storm. The romance is still there - will Alina be able to follow her heart and choose Mal, or will she take on the role of Nikolai's queen and unite Grisha with the rest of Ravka? Like I said earlier, though, Mal is resigned to whatever choice Alina must make, and Alina is too busy worrying about other things to think that far ahead. I didn't mind the romance at all in Ruin and Rising. The Author did it very well. It didn't take away from the growing tension of the final battle, and it didn't make anyone look silly (like it did in Siege and Storm).

Plot: After her last encounter with the Darkling, Alina has been forced to accept the protection of the Apparat and his zealots underground, while she struggles to recover her powers. But the Apparat wants to use Alina for his own gains, and if Alina doesn't cooperate, her friends will suffer. With everything she's been through, Alina isn't about to become someone else's political tool. The Darkling now rules Ravka and her people are suffering. She must find the firebird - the last of Morozova's amplifiers - at all costs, so she can defeat the Darkling once and for all. It can be argued that the plot of Ruin and Rising is exactly like the last two: Alina is hunting down yet another amplifier, trying to build an army, and facing down the Darkling. But what makes this book is the number of shocking twists, the risks, the deaths, and the unity of the characters in one important cause. Alina will have to pay a great price for the firebird; what that price is, no one knows. It could be someone's life, her sanity - any number of things. And the Author gives the Reader no doubt that the firebird is her only chance of defeating the Darkling. So the Reader has to wonder: what price will Alina have to pay? Leigh Bardugo has already proven that she isn't afraid to make her characters suffer, so the risk to Alina and her friends is very real indeed. It makes for a very heart pounding, fast paced narration; I was never bored. But I don't think I could even be bored of Ravka.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. The Author continues with her beautiful descriptions, sumptuous feasts, and intense sequences of emotions and turmoil and death. I do really like her writing style.

Content: It's revealed that Tamar and Nadia are lesbians - and like each other. It kind of irritated me, yes, because there was no point to it. At the same time, though, it also didn't feel like the Author was pushing an agenda, so I was able to ignore it pretty well. And yes, Mal and Alina do end up sleeping together. No details.

Conclusion: My feelings about the climax are very mixed. I had to put the book down for a while and just think things through a bit before I finished reading. I was a wreck of surprise, horror, excitement, and disappointment. There's no doubt that the climax is exciting. It's got some very shocking moments, some heart-rending ones (I cried over the Darkling and Alina's last moments; I want to wrap the Darkling in a blanket!!). But a part of me also feels like I should have been a bit disappointed, because the climax - when I really think about it - was kind of anticlimactic. Part of me was all, "That's all they had to do?" It was not as magnificent as I was expecting. Somehow, though, it still worked. Let's face it - we all love the Darkling in some way or another. An absolute, completely crushing defeat for him wouldn't have worked; we would have been sad and maybe even a little outraged. So a more tragic, stomp-on-the-Readers'-hearts demise was much more fitting. And after everything that happens - especially in Book #3 - a bittersweet ending is what was needed. Anticlimactic somehow worked. Ruin and Rising was amazing; I can't stress that enough. It met all of my expectations - and went beyond. I loved everyone in it, I loved the plot, and it had some amazing twists and crushed my heart to powder more than once.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, seventeen-and-up, fans of fantasy!

Others in The Grisha Trilogy:
1)Shadow and Bone
2)Siege and Storm
3)Ruin and Rising


  1. Yay! You completed one of your series! And I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

    1. I did! And it was so good. Totally made up for the flaws in Book #2.


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