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Push through book two so that you can read this book!! It's thrilling, and fun and the characters are likeable, it's everything that book two wasn't. The ending is a bit disappointing but it's mostly satisfying. Four stars because I had a lot of fun reading this book and shed a tear at the end. I thought that I would remember this series bitterly after book two, but I will remember it fondly.... now onto more grishaverse adventures!
Wow. I was so not expecting well maybe I was but I wasn’t expecting a lot of the things that happened in this series to happen but dang Leigh I don’t think you could have ended that any better. A truly truly amazing series I cried laughed and guessed my way thorough this whole book. ❤️❤️❤️
Believe me, I’m just as surprised as you are that I gave this book 4 stars considering how much of Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm got on my nerves. There’s still a lot I don’t get about this series; we do learn a little more about him here and he did become a more interesting villain, but I still don’t get the obsession with The Darkling and I really don’t think he and Alina make sense as a romantic couple. That’s more of a discrepancy within the fandom than with this book, however, so I’m not going to hold it against the book; Bardugo is very clear that The Darkling is the villain here.
I also still don’t feel like I got to know Alina and Mal as much as I wanted to considering they’re our heroes, and their relationship drama is still boring. I do like the two of them together – I know a lot of other fans would rather see her with The Darkling, Nikolai or Genya (personally I kept hoping Genya and Zoya might be a thing) – but Alina and Mal are the same level of ordinary to suit each other. As much as Alina’s power might have thrust her into greatness, she was never going to be more at home in the Ravkan court, at either The Darkling or Nikolai’s side, than she is when she’s with Mal.
All that aside, from the very first page this book didn’t stop moving and I really appreciated that. Honestly I feel like this entire trilogy could have been condensed into one, epic beast of a novel rather than a trilogy in which the first two books had to be padded out with boy drama. All the action finally happened in this book.
Even better, Alina has gumption!
From the first page Alina was finally making decisions and biting back at people and she finally started feeling like a person rather than a character filling a role. That doesn’t make up for how ‘meh’ she was in the first two books but it certainly made this book far more enjoyable to read.
And, credit where credit’s due, Ravka is in the middle of a war and Bardugo isn’t afraid to kill off a lot of people. In fact I really liked where she took the plot in this book; there’s a twist regarding the third amplifier that I didn’t see coming, and when The Darkling finally got his comeuppance it was in such an ordinary way that I almost pitied him. Almost. I mean, the guy did gouge his own mother’s eyes out. And I loved Baghra.
Zoya continued to be one of my favourite characters in this series – I know she’s mean, but she’s unapologetically, honestly mean and there’s something about her that I’m drawn to – and I loved the inclusion of a very small side f/f romance between Tamar and Nadia. I would have liked a little more of them, but I loved what we did see of them and considering I’ll gobble up anything f/f fantasy I was thrilled to see their relationship there. It didn’t feel like they’d been thrown together for no reason, either; the two of them suited one another.
My poor, sweet Nikolai goes through hell in this book, too, but I’m glad I made myself read this series before King of Scars so I could understand the whole history behind what his experiences during this war were. I loved having his sense of humour in this book again, and I actually liked his and Alina’s friendship in this book a lot. Again, I don’t think the two of them would have worked romantically, but I still enjoyed their relationship in this book. Alina and Mal end up with a fairly large friendship group and I love well-written friendships in any book, particularly fantasy, and I enjoyed how this odd group was juxtaposed against The Darkling’s loneliness.
While I thought this book didn’t quite feel as huge as I thought it should – though I loved the idea of the religious following growing around ‘Sankta Alina’ and the various towns and villages the main characters visited, it didn’t quite feel like the fate of Ravka was at stake, just the fate of Alina and those closest to her – for me this was a huge improvement on the first two books. I think my opinion is in the minority, most reviews I’ve seen praise Siege and Storm as the best book in the series and call Ruin and Rising a disappointing finale, but I thought this was the most satisfying book in the series. I loved how Bardugo brought Alina’s story to an end, and I can’t wait to read King of Scars.
Ruin and Rising was a really good finale for this series but for me it didn't improve much on the previous two books and so I had to give it the same rating.
My main gripes are the same as they have been throughout. The romance element – particularly the love triangle aspect – continued to be a little tiresome and dragged out (and Alina still seemed a little uncertain on who she ultimately wanted) and her tendencies towards martyrdom were just as annoying as before. In general, Alina was as irritating as she had been in the previous books – making comments about Mal like ‘I wasn't sure I recognised him anymore’, did she really expect him to stay exactly the same after everything he’d been through? (A lot of which was thanks to her too!).
The world and the writing continued to be spectacular and really was the main driver that kept me interested. Leigh has a fantastic way of drawing you into the world she has created and although I didn't connect with Alina, I did connect with a lot of the side characters – Mal, Genya, Tolya, Tamar – all were so individual and courageous.
The ending was pretty good but I did feel like it was over quite quickly considering the build up. I've seen a lot of mixed comments about the ending, especially regarding her choice of man at the end, but I actually felt like it was a very fitting ending. If you remember the Alina from the start of the series then this ending is very fitting for her. Yes she has changed throughout the books but at the core she is the same girl and I think the ending was the one that made the most sense for her.
Reading this series has definitely made me seek out more of Leigh Bardugo’s books because I am in love with her writing and the worlds she builds – I can't wait to read Six of Crows next!
The story definitely picked up in this third book in the Grisha trilogy - we saw more of the intriguing Darkling character and a lot more power wielding and action.
I love it when a book actually makes me physically react and I didn't see something coming; there was a point where the Darkling did something (pretty bad) and I found myself saying 'oh my god he didn't' which just makes me smile because I want books to surprise me!
There was a lot more character development in this one and the relationship between Mal and Alina evolved throughout and I was always left guessing what was going to become of those two.
Overall after reading this series, I'm glad I did because the world and the story is definitely one worth exploring, but I would say don't give up on the second book. I thought the second book in the series dropped the ball a bit, but I'm glad I read through and got to Ruin and Rising because it got so much better!