Title: Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: June 17th, 2014
Summary: 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.
This review is going to be full of spoilers so if you haven’t read Ruin and Rising yet, you have been warned.
It’s been a while since I read the previous two books and I didn’t have time to reread them before I got this one. So going into this, I was trying to remember who all the secondary characters were and what all happened, and it slowed me down a little bit.
The main thing I have to say is that Leigh Bardugo does not mess around. I mean, she just kept kicking us while we were down and I loved it. There was lots of death and horrible awful things happening to lots of people and my heart wanted to die. At one point in the book, I’m pretty sure I let out an inhuman wail of misery and sadness. It scared my cat half to death.
To start with, Alina is down in the White Chapel, hiding underground with all these crazy religious wackos and unable to summon anything. She has The Apparat (who I imagine looking like an older, crustier version of Rasputin from Anastasia) forcing her to stay underground and help build an army of religious fanatics who all believe she is a saint. But her, Mal, and the rest of their ground manage to escape and are on a quest to find Nikolai and the Firebird to take down the Darkling. And we have our book.
The character are great, like always. I feel bad because I remember that I disliked Mal a lot in the last book and was pissed knowing that she would end up with him. C’mon you guys, we all know it. But in this book, he was actually tolerable and helped Alina a lot and kept their band of misfits together. I felt like he really stepped it up when it mattered most. However, I still did not want him and Alina to end up together. I was team Darkling all the way, and then team Nikolai last book. It’s so hard to love more that one guy, I feel like such a traitor bouncing back and forth between the two of them.
Alina really grows in this book. I love her as a character because she isn’t ashamed to admit that she wants power and likes wielding it and has, and will continue to do, some bad things. She is honest and strong, even when she is weak, and I like that. She isn’t like most other heroines who are so pure and good that the thought of hurting someone is unimaginable and they refuse to hurt because it’s bad. Alina feels sadness and regret over hurting people but realizes the necessity of it in war and gets a bit of thrill out of using her power.
My poor baby Nikolai had such a rough time in this book. I love him, I have a thing for sassy, witty boys and he is definitely up there. He is trying his best to fight back against the Darkling but ultimately he needs Alina and when she comes to him, they are ready to fight together. Which would have been awesome if the Darkling hadn’t swooped out of the sky, killed a bunch of people, and turned Nikolai into a monster. Yep, you heard me. He turned my baby into a goddamn monster, with fangs and claws and a taste for human flesh. I honestly got tears in my eyes when it happened. He was such a good person, and the Darkling did the one thing that would hurt him more than anything else. I wanted Nikolai and Alina to get married and pop out some cutie babies and live happily ever after. Although Nikolai does get turned back, him and Alina still don’t hook up, which was almost enough to make me rip the book in half.
Mal being the last amplifier was a twist that I didn’t see coming. I mean, I obviously knew something was special about him with his sixth sense when it comes to tracking, but I never would have guessed what he was. Even after Baghra told her story, I didn’t piece it together. But I like that it wasn’t predictible. My only problem is that I feel like I was a little cheated in the end. I always kind of hate books where they kill off the love interest, but then they magically come back to life. Not that Alina didn’t give up enough already, but it’s just anticlimactic for me because as the person is dying, at this point I just always expect they will be revived. Not to sound like an evil person, but war has it’s casualties and it stinks, but sometimes the person should just stay dead and we can all cry over it.
Alina losing her power in the end was unexpected as well. I like that she gets to start over with Mal and a new life, but I find it sad that she doesn’t have her powers anymore or her connection to the Darkling. I would have liked for her to still have that piece of darkness in her, even while serving the kingdom as a saint and queen. But being free of it all was probably a blessing in disguise to her.
One of the only complaints I have is that I wish we had gotten more of the Darkling in this book. Which I know, I’m only saying because I love him as a character, but I wanted more of him before he died. I love the dark passion between him and Alina and I love how lonely and tormented he is. He is such a complex character that I really have to give Leigh Bardugo kudos since it’s not often an author makes me truly love and sympathize with the bad guy.
The story itself moved at a great pace. I blew through it in like four hours so it went quickly, but I was never bored. I really loved the religious aspects of this book and how all the people thought she was a saint, I found it really interesting and fairly original. Anything to do with Morozova was super intriguing. I almost wish they would publish his journals or a story about him so we could read more about his experiments and ideas. And I have to say, these books have been getting a lot of criticism about all the inaccurate Russian stuff, but coming from someone who knows basically nothing about it, I never had a problem with it. I like the Russian undertones, accurate or not, and I find it almsot unfair for everyone to nitpick at it. I know as an author, it’s their job to do their research, but this is still a fantasy book and certain liberties can be taken. I was never bothered by it, I’m more annoyed seeing everyone posting stuff about correct Russian surnames and the alcohol content of kvas.
I really enjoyed this book over all. The pacing, characters, story line, and twist were all great, and I thought it was a very successful conclusion. I just wish maybe the ending hadn’t been so happily ever after, with a book that had so many dark undertones, I was hoping for an unexpected, maybe more realistic and sad ending. I would say this was a pretty successful series and I’m actually sad to see the characters go. Especially my baby Nikolai.