Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ruin and Rising

Ruin and Rising
By: Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)

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.

I was dreading this book so hard, not because I didn't expect it to be fantastic, but becauase I KNEW IT WOULD CRUSH ME. I love this series, this world, and these characters. And I am devastated that it's over, but this book delivered. It was everything that I wanted and so much more. Every page of this book was a absolute piece of beauty.
Warning: This review will have spoilers for the other two books in the series and may have some slight plot-based spoilers for the beginning of this book.

Alina: I really appreciate her as a character, and her growth is astounding. From naïve and lonely, to leader of an army, then to a saint, and beyond. She was strong in this book, selfless when she needed to be, and ultimately a true heroine. Fierce and loyal, to others as well as to herself. I'm sad to say goodbye to her, but I am so happy with where she ended up. The entirety of her journey if a perfect arc, with plenty of ups and downs, and a gorgeous resolution.

Mal: I always underestimate Mal, or maybe until this book he didn't deserve my overestimation. He's grown a whole lot as well. I loved him in this book, not just because he's a well-drawn character, but also because he's so wonderfully brave and selfless. His growth is shown is his acceptance of his past mistakes and his determination (determination to the point of frustration, to the point of self-denial, to the point of ultimate bravery). He won my respect in this book, and in the end, he gained my love, as well.

Nikolai: I am in love with Nikolai Lantsov, completely and irrevocably. There is no not-loving Nikolai. There is only Nikolai.
Okay, I'll try to make more sense now that you know about my UNDYING LOVE FOR HIM.

...Darn it. I really was trying to be coherent there. Let's try a third time. Nikolai Lantsov is a beautifully written character, so well developed. I understand him, I've been made to feel like I understand him, despite his neverending complexities. He's charming, but he still feels deeply. He's witty, but sometimes you see him break which makes it all the more heartbreaking. He's a natural leader, but he wasn't born that way. There is so much that he is, and so much that he actively chooses to be that I admire.
He's definitely one of my favorite literary characters of all time. Now if only Leigh Bardugo would write a series surrounding him, as well...

Genya: Her moment of victory was easily one of the best moments in this book. I was in public, and still I was jumping up and down and clapping, because DANG RIGHT. That disgusting king deserved everything he got (and more, actually). Her development in this book alone was absolutely stunning.
The Darkling: The scenes between him and Alina were brilliant. The dialogue gave me goosebumps with how perfect it was and how much emotion chemistry they had. They had chemistry in just the right sense, too. It wasn't romantic, but their powers played off one another so deeply, and their connection was so strong, that the power struggles instantly became fascinating and bone chilling.

Oh my gosh. This plot. There were so many twists and turns. Leigh took you all around this world. We went into the Elbjen mountains, and back to Keramzin, and to Dva Stolba, and into the Sikurzoi mountains, and of course, into the Fold. There was so much movement, both physically and story-wise. These characters had to make the difficult decisions. They had to make the hard sacrifices. The plot and the characters intertwined in the way they needed to make a compelling and complex story.

Like I said, we saw so much of this world in this book. Leigh Bardugo has yet to even show us all of it. This culture is fascinating and this land is immense. She's crafted it all so well to make a patchwork nation that is beautiful and so intriguing.

This series is nearly perfect. It's too beautiful for my words, and it had become one of my favorite fantasy series of all time. Leigh Bardugo is a MASTER and I highly recommend that you read this. If you're not please reconsider your life and your choices.


"He did not see the moment the girl ceased to bear her weakness as a burden and began to wear it as a guise."

"I wanted to believe anything so that I wouldn't have to face the future alone. The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak."

"Suffering is cheap as clay and twice as common. What matters is what each man makes of it."

"Grief had its own life, took its own sustenance."

"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."

"I know, I know. I don't get it. I just know there's no way to live without pain - no matter how long or short your life is. People let you down. You get hurt and do damage in return."

"They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things - if love can ever be called that."

Possible Spoiler-y Moments that Made Me Laugh:
Another aspect of this life that I love is the humor interspersed in all the serious plot stuff. It gave moments of levity amidst the war they were fighting. Here are some of my favorite moments separated by character.

"I saw the prince when I was in Os Alta," said Ekaterina. "He's not bad looking."
"Not bad looking?" said another voice. "He's damnably handsome."
Luchenko scowled. "Since when-"
"Brave in battle, smart as a whip...An excellent dancer," said the voice. "Oh, and an even better shot."

"What are you two doing barefoot and half naked in the mud? asked a familiar voice. "Looking for truffles, I hope?"

"Saints, Alina. 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."

"I can think of a few more interesting ways to spend one's time."
"Is that supposed to be innuendo?"
"What a filthy mind you have. I was referring to puzzles and the perusal of edifying texts."

"I owe you, Alina. Ravka owes you. This and more. Do good works or commission an opera house or just take it out and gaze at it longingly when you hink of the handsome prince you might have made your own. For the record, I favor the latter option, preferably paired with copious tears and the recitation of bad poetry."


"Mal said in that same steady voice I recognized from the cave-in. "I don't reserve my friendship for perfect people. And, thank the Saints, neither does Alina."

"Maybe that brought us together, but it didn't make us who we are. It didn't make you the girl who could get me to laugh when I had nothing. It sure as hell didn't make me the idiot who took that for granted. Whatever there is between us, we forged it. It belongs to us."

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