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.
Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Number of Pages: 422
Publishing Date: June 17th, 2014
Ruin and Rising is the epic conclusion in the Grisha Trilogy. The character development was so well done, the different settings were described beautifully, Leigh Bardugo’s writing was intricate and amazing, and the plot went in a direction that I definitely didn’t expect. However, while this book was a strong conclusion, the ending left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this trilogy immensely and I’ve fallen so incredibly in love with the Grisha world.
The rest of this review contains spoilers!
The beginning of this book felt a bit slower in regards to pace, but I think that it did a good job in terms of building up for sudden spurts of action-packed scenes. From the scene where Alina and her epic crew (as I like to call them) escaped from the underground and got away from one of the creepiest characters ever (the Apparat) to when the Darkling found the mountain refuge that Nikolai was hiding everybody inside, the action was intense.
The twists and turns that this novel took were exciting and I actually did not see the fact that Mal is the third amplifier coming at all. There were clearly hints that Leigh cleverly dropped throughout the previous books that I somehow didn’t notice that pointed directly towards this reveal, but I’m actually glad that I wasn’t able to put two and two together because it made this all the more surprising for me.
The scenes where Alina visited the Darkling were some of my favorites. It was so interesting seeing how he changed his demeanor around her and, while you could say that he changes how he acts in hopes of swaying her to join him, I’d like to believe that she brings out whatever reminisce of light that he has left in him.
“Why waste my anger on you when the fault is mine? I should have anticipated another betrayal from you, one more mad grasp at some kind of childish ideal. But I seem to be a victim of my own wishes where you are concerned.” His expression hardened. “What have you come here for, Alina?”
I answered him honestly. “I wanted to see you.”
I caught the briefest glimpse of surprise before his face shuttered again. “There are two thrones on that dais. You could see me any time you liked.”
The ending of this book is what left me the most conflicted. I honestly enjoyed every other section of this book so much but the ending is what fell flat for me. If you’ve read my reviews of Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm then you know how much I freaking love the Darkling and his character. So… his death… left me rather upset (in other words, it was extremely hard not to cry whilst reading this ending in public). However, I was also slightly okay with his death because I understood why the author chose to go in that direction. I was extremely relieved that Nikolai was able to be saved and I also appreciated how he wasn’t completely back to normal. He would have his dark moments and I think that was a really realistic component that the author added to his character in regards to the horrors that he had to ensue. But then, when Mal sacrificed himself but was brought back to life and Alina lost her powers for good, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. This entire trilogy was made up of Alina learning and working towards understanding her powers and herself, so the ending of this novel felt very underwhelming to me because Alina basically ended up being right back where she began. The epilogue was very beautifully written and, while I couldn’t help but wish that Alina could’ve kept her powers and ended up with Nikolai (or even nobody at all), I did feel that the ending had brought the trilogy to a good close.
“They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things—if love can ever be called that.”
I could write on and on about my thoughts regarding the ending of this novel, but I think that Sam from Thoughts on Tomes explains my feelings perfectly in her gush video about this trilogy; you can watch that video here.
Oh, and I’m just going to point out that this part? HA. I cried. A lot.
“Aleksander,” I whispered. A boy’s name, given up. Almost forgotten.”
I really loved Alina’s character in this novel. Her development was amazing and I loved watching her grow so strong in terms of both power and confidence. And, while the ending left me feeling that her character didn’t really get the strong ending that I think she deserved, I felt that her character development had come full circle and she’s definitely become one of my favorite female characters. Her scenes with the Darkling were my favorite because she was always able to bring out this side to him that I love and when he told her his real name I just, GAH, I love their interactions with each other so much.
“Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.”
Mal grew on me in this novel, but I still didn’t grow as attached to him as I did with the other characters in this series. While he was much more accepting and understanding towards Alina, I felt like he remained fairly bland as a character. I think that part of this had to do with him feeling really underdeveloped to me through the first two books in this trilogy, but I did like how he developed within this novel.
“You are all I’ve ever wanted,” he said. “You are the whole of my heart.”
I was really hoping for the Darkling to go through some type of redemption arc and I was sad that it didn’t happen, but I also really loved the glimpses of him that we got throughout this book. As I said in my review of Siege and Storm, I wish he appeared more and he’ll always be one of my favorite antagonists. He was such a fascinating and intriguing character and I loved how he was so dark and mysterious, but then there would be those moments where you saw this more human-esque nature to him and GAH, I could talk about the Darkling for days, okay.
“I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no shelter but me.”
Nikolai has become my favorite character from this trilogy (next to the Darkling, of course). Each and every one of his qualities is amazing and I may or may not swoon slightly when he’s in a scene in this book. I just. I love him so much. I’ll admit that I wish that he had ended up with Alina; their chemistry was really, really magical.
“I hope you weren’t looking to me to be the voice of reason. I keep to a strict diet of ill-advised enthusiasm and heartfelt regret.”
In regards to the other characters in this trilogy, I really grew to love them all in this book. Tamar and Tolya already held a special place in my heart, but I also really loved Genya, David, and *gasp* even Zoya (who I really did not like at all in the previous novels).
I feel like I say the same thing for every review I write for a book written by Leigh Bardugo but it’s always worth repeating; Leigh’s writing style is magical. There’s so much detail put into it but it’s written in such a way that it’s easy to read and it flows so well. Quotes like the ones that I’ve included in this review always manage to grasp me quite easily.
“Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay. I tilted my head back. The stars looked like they were close together, when really they were millions of miles apart. In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach.”
Overall, Ruin and Rising was a riveting end to an amazing trilogy. It was epic. It was gripping. It took this story arc to an entirely new level. I wasn’t expecting for this story to end the way it did and, at first, I’ll admit that I loved the ending a lot. But now, looking back, there are so many things that I wish had happened differently. I feel like Alina’s character development from a normal girl to this badass-strong-Grisha was completely lost. And even if she couldn’t end up with the Darkling, why not Nikolai? As I said previously, I felt like after going through so much, Alina ended up in the same position that she was in when the series began. However, while I felt disappointed by the ending, I also understood why the author chose to go in that direction—perhaps Alina’s greatest strength is being able to let go of the powers that she once had and to move forward in her life. So, with that being said, I truly did enjoy this novel. I think if an author is able to make a reader, such as myself, go through so many emotions, have so many feelings and attachments in regards to beloved characters, and then try to interpret the ending in different ways to better understand why the author chose to take the story in the direction that she did, then I think that the author succeeded in writing a riveting and brilliant novel. I will forever applaud Leigh Bardugo for creating this trilogy because it’s definitely become one of my favorites.
So, have you read Ruin and Rising? What did you think about it? Comment below!