Title: Ruin and Rising
Series: Grisha Trilogy #3
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: June 17th, 2014 (Henry Holt & Co)
Synopsis: 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.
“Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined.
E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.”
Following the Darkling’s devastating attack on the capital, Alina, Mal and a handful of Grisha have escaped and are now under the questionable protection of the Apparat in the tunnels below Ravka. But Alina finds herself no longer able to summon, and is not certain whether this is the price of wielding the merzost stolen from the Darkling that left her near death. Without her power, she is effectively a prisoner underground, and up on the surface, the Darkling has taken over, and is planning a final move to crush the last of the resistance. Finally escaping the White Cathedral, Alina and her friends set out to find Morozova’s last amplifier, the legendary firebird. The urge to gain the third amplifier is stronger than ever, but power always comes at a cost, and Alina might not be willing to pay this one.
“If only I’d known you’d prove such an apt pupil.”
Just when you think no more twists are possible – the truth of the amplifiers was not something I saw coming at all! This entire book is such that it has the reader on edge, just waiting for the next bombshell to drop, and it is so much fun! I absolutely loved Alina in this one. She has grown so much over the course of this series and her character arc is amazing – it says so much that she is able to go toe to toe with the Darkling and play his mind games right back at him. Alina’s encounters with the Darkling have taken such a turn and they were possibly my favourite scenes in the entire book.
Mal is a much more palatable character in this book as he’s worked his issues out – somewhat – and his surprisingly noble behaviour finally won him a rather large measure of respect with me. The Darkling continues to be one of the most intriguing characters I have ever come across. Ruin and Rising gives us glimpses of the boy he once was, burdened with power. Misguided, yes, but it’s hard to remember him as truly evil at the end of all this, knowing that all he really wanted was to change things for the Grisha though he went about it the wrong way. So while I may not be rooting for him anymore, it’s admirable how Leigh Bardugo has created a character who is so perfectly grey. As for Nikolai, all I can say is, thank God he has his own series, because he totally deserves it and if you haven’t read King of Scars yet, go read it! His witty repartee added a much needed element of humour and light heartedness to an otherwise grim narrative and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
And the ending – mild spoilers ahead. On one hand, I guess it was pretty obvious that Alina could never really give up Mal. And without her powers as the Sun Summoner, she doesn’t really have any purpose to stay in the capital. I’m just annoyed that the ending had to be so…ordinary. Was it a semi happily ever after? Cliched? Yes, and rather bittersweet too. It was the only logical way to tie up things, but I still wish things had ended more dramatically, seeing as I was shipping her with Nikolai especially after the events of this book. So overall, it was not the ending I wanted, but it was a good one all the same and a fitting one at that. Ruin and Rising is a thrilling, action-packed and surprisingly emotional conclusion to this amazing series, and I’m eager to see more books set in this world. Highly recommended!
“They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things –
if love can ever be called that.”