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.