Friday, July 25, 2014

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising 
by Leigh Bardugo
Read: June 17 - 18, 2014
Published: June 17, 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
Source: Hardcopy Purchase
Category: Fantasy, Russia-like, Magic, YA

Series: The Grisha Trilogy #3
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository 

NOTE: Ruin and Rising is the third and final book in the Grisha Trilogy. See my reviews for Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. I've tried to keep this review spoiler free for the series. 

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.


Recently I have started dreading series finales, because several of my most anticipated 2014 conclusions have turned out to be major disappointments. Thankfully, that did NOT happen with Ruin and Rising. In some ways this ending was what I expected it to be, but it also surprised me and managed to far exceed my expectations. In short, I loved it. 

I'm not sure exactly how to review this story, so I wanted to talk about three elements that interested me.

1) Themes of redemption and consequences are strong. In Ruin and Rising we see characters face consequences for their past actions and find redemption…or not. I  I know we're all wondering about The Darkling here, and with him, I most enjoyed that that he is humanized in this book. From a character who cultivated his mystique in Shadow and Bone, we truly get to see him as a person with desires and motives by the end of the series. His character continues to fascinate me, and he remains one of my favorite story arcs in this series. But The Darkling is not the only character confronted by things he's done. Alina, Mal and Genya, especially, have memorable scenes featuring this theme. 

2) I never saw this series as having a love triangle. I can't say too much here without spoiling the series, but I always thought that Alina was clear about who she wanted. Even though she didn't always think that would work out for her. She did have different options presented to her at times, and everything isn't always straightforward. However, this is a series that I'm glad I didn't avoid, because I feared the romance elements. I thought they worked well into the series, and I was happy with the way it played out in the last installment. Alina made the right choice for her. 

3) We see Alina make friends. One of the big elements of this series is how alone Aline thinks she is with her singular abilities. Especially, when others are happy to put her in that role, and constantly demand things of her because of it. It is also one of her connections to The Darkling, because he too understands what it is to have unique and vast power. But in Ruin and Rising, Alina becomes part of a team of people with a mission. She endures heartbreaking moments and is forced to make some difficult and surprising choices, but through it all, she finds support, guidance and hope from others. Alina is so different from the isolated and unsure girl she was when we first met her in Shadow and Bone, and I've very much enjoyed watching her evolution through the series. 

For me, Ruin & Rising wasn't a particularly loud conclusion, but what I love most about this book is the fact that the more I think about it, the more complex it becomes, especially the characters and themes. And the more I see how well the entire series wraps together in ways I didn't understand before I got the final piece. 

Love Triangle Factor: I'm going with None. But some might say mild. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Series Conclusion - but more Sturmhond please! I hope he's featured in the next book. 


  1. No, I never really saw it as a triangle, per se. Alina was a little overwhelmed by The Darkling when she first met him in the first book but it was obvious her heart had always belonged to Mal. Love that Alina made friends in this book. The second one was almost painful to read because of that. Such a good ending!

  2. I love your 3 points, Lauren. I definitely enjoyed the themes of redemption and consequences. I liked how it was done thoughtfully and the author didn't just slap the themes into her story. Also, thank you for saying out loud what I've always thought about the love triangle. I don't think Alina once was part of a love triangle. The Darkling and Sturmhound were never objects of her affection. Sure, she had an inkling of an attraction to The Darkling in the beginning, but I'm pretty sure it was because of how powerful he was. Additionally, I feel like people wanted him to be a love interest because they thought Mal was boring (which ridiculous in my opinion), so they made up these teams when that wasn't the author's goal.
    And yes the friendships was one of my favorite elements in this series, especially in this last book.
    This was one of the best conclusions I've read in a long long time as well. I'm glad you thought so as well. :)
    Lovely review, Lauren!

  3. I definitely need more Sturmhond--NEED. I felt most cheated out of seeing his storyline unfold because it was so fascinating and yet we got so little of it. Still, I absolutely agree with you that this is a quiet conclusion but one that really wraps together the entire series as it forces these characters to grow and embrace themselves in a way they haven't before. I loved the Darkling in this, as you know, not to mention the romance and the friendships Alina formed in this are certainly memorable. I have full confidence that Bardugo is going to be able to effortlessly pull off whatever else she chooses to write--and I'm SO happy she's returning to this world for a companion series! Definitely keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a brief glimpse of Sturmhond.. ;)

  4. Amazing review sweetie. <3 I am SO GLAD you loved Ruin and Rising :D I did too. Sigh. Wasn't it just perfect? And yess. I am with you on that. I didn't see it as a love triangle. Because Alina always wanted the same person. At least to me :) What confuses me the most, though, is those people who are disappointed with the book. I think they are only upset about their ship.. but they say this book is very different from the first ones; that it doesn't stay the same. And that confuses me. Because I found it to be stunning; and fitting very well with the story from the beginning :) ANYWAY. Amazing review. <3

  5. I still haven't read it... I'm too scared.. I loved it so much that I fear that I will be let down by it in the end. But, the more reviews I read the clearer it becomes that I should be scared and get the book right freaking now!

    I agree, there has never been a real Love Triangle, but I wanted it to be:) I wanted The Darkling to redeem himself, but yeah that was not going to happen..

  6. I agree, I never thought this was a true love triangle, either. And I did love the way everything played out, I think it worked out how it should for the main characters. There was a bit of sadness, but that makes sense given everything they went through and all that was lost. And yes, themes of redemption and consequences, which were handled so well. Agreed…more Sturmhond, please!!! ~Pam

  7. Yes, yes, yes. Ruin and Rising was so good! I love the way Bardugo tied everything up, loved the characters so much (especially Sturmhond) and I loved the themes of this story too. It was all I wanted from a conclusion!

  8. Agreed! I loved this entire series. I too was afraid of love triangles at several points, but Bardugo made it so realistic and poignant instead. I was truly impressed. I also loved the action and emotion in this book. Every character has to face some pretty dark stuff and watching them grow and rise to the challenge was thrilling. I'm sad to see it go.


    Sturmhond forever!

  9. See, this is why I'm back and forth on recommending Throne of Glass. I think love triangle, but then I realize that I THINK Celaena is close to Alina in the way that she makes it clear on who she picks. The only problem is HoF because she kind of lets that guy go, thinking it's over, but it's not as if she's suddenly in love with another guy. Complicated. BUT I'm so glad that this wasn't a disappointment and that Alina grew that even though it wasn't a solid conclusion, it was still good. Great review, Lauren!

  10. So happy to hear this series ending is satisfying. I have both the first and second book but I didn't want to read it until all the books were out and I got some feedback first. I like to hear that there was always a clear choice in the romance, Lauren. Wonderful review! :)

  11. "For me, Ruin & Rising wasn't a particularly loud conclusion, but what I love most about this book is the fact that the more I think about it, the more complex it becomes, especially the characters and themes."

    LOVE that Lauren!!! I just got my copy of this one and I can't wait to start it! And I agree with you on the triangle, while I was definitely rooting a little for the Darkling in a good chunk of book one, I knew he wouldn't be her endgame. After certain events of book two though, Mal has some work to do to get back in my favor, though I do hope they end up together:)

  12. I do love my themes of redemption and related character arcs due to it. It's practically a requirement for fantasies, in my opinion. I agree that it was well done in this case!
    And I agree. The other two choices were never clear options. I don't mind love triangles as long as the protagonist knows what she really wants. It's when she doesn't that issues arise (and eyes start rolling).
    I had some issues with it here and there, but overall I quite enjoyed this conclusion too. Definitely a relief, as you say, after some lackluster conclusions from earlier this year!


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