Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh BardugoRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 17, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 422
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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.

All good things must come to an end, alas. I’ve really enjoyed this series, and I’m certainly sad to see it go.

It can’t get much worse for Alina and Mal and their motley crew of allies. The Darkling holds the majority of the power, and the best that Alina can hope for is to find Morozova’s third amplifier. Finding it is their only hope to beat the Darkling.

Alina still isn’t my favorite heroine, but she’s a pretty good one. She’s inevitably compared to Calaena Sardothien of Throne of Glass since the two series are some of the biggest in YA Fantasy right now, and Alina just isn’t as cool as Calaena. Alina’s more normal, slightly more boring, a little whinier. In some ways, I think that’s part of the point. But she also is willing to sacrifice her own happiness to save her friends, and to defeat the Darkling. She embarks on an impossible mission to bring him down, giving hope to others that she hardly holds onto herself.

Mal was much more likable in this one, though I was still rooting for Nikolai and Alina to get together, since Nikolai is incredibly likable., and you just want him to find happiness somewhere. Mal was less annoying here though, and him and Alina finally accepting their feelings was quite refreshing. Thankfully, the Darkling didn’t make any kind of comeback in the romance department. That ship sailed in the second book and I didn’t want to revisit it. I wish there had been a little more development with Nikolai, especially since he went through such a dramatic and traumatic event…I wish we had seen a little more of the effects of that.

A lot of this book is spent trying to figure out what Alina and her merry band are going to do to combat the Darkling. So I would say it doesn’t move as quickly as the others. At least, until the final showdown and then it flies. I was sort of surprised when all the sudden it was over. There were some clever twists in the second half that I heartily appreciated, and wasn’t really expecting.

I feel that Leigh Bardugo gave her readers a solid and satisfying ending in Ruin and Rising. If you’ve enjoyed the series up to this point, I think you’ll be pleased with the ending. Unless you’re pro-Darkling. Then you should probably never read this book.

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