Review: Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3

My rating: {★★★★☆}

YA Fantasy
Published June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Company

Source: Purchased
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.
4.5 stars

I buddy read Ruin and Rising with the fantastic Amy from A Magical World of Words AND the amazing Uma from Books.Bags.Burgers. This was a continuation of our buddy read of Siege and Storm and once again, it was an awesome experience to read with these ladies and the fact that we all LOVED this book didn’t hurt our fan-girl hearts.

Please take some time to check out both Amy's review and Uma's review when you can!

I really enjoyed this book and in fact the entire series now that I can look back and view it as a whole. I'm definitely glad that I took the time to go back and fill in my knowledge of the Grisha and Bardugo's world after I read Six of Crows.

The imagery that Bardugo manages to convey in her storytelling is impeccable and I loved the richness and vastness of this world. As I've mentioned previously, The Grisha is a totally different feel from the writing in Six of Crows: This is an epic fantasy world and I enjoyed the mix of creative fantasy and magic with the wit and humour that I love from Bardugo combined with the politics and overall plot arc.

Another aspect that I loved is that Bardugo is so brave with her characters and isn't afraid to subject them to the worst. Part of the greatness of this series for me was seeing her delve into the depths of the human psyche and show us the effects of power, the effects of such great responsibility and the effects of feeling the pull of the darkness. What would you be willing to sacrifice for the greater good?

Genya in particular was a terrific character and I loved her development throughout the series. Her courage and sheer strength of character was inspiring and I loved that Bardugo showed just how badly Genya was impacted by various happenings throughout the series - both physically and emotionally - instead of just brushing over this.

“Beauty was your armor. Fragile stuff, all show. But what’s inside you? That’s steel. It’s brave and unbreakable. And it doesn’t need fixing.”

Nikolai was (of course) another of my favourites and boy, has he had it rough in the past couple of books. I won't give any spoilers away, but I really felt for this guy and I really feel like he's the only character that I didn't feel got the ending he deserved, from so many aspects. I can only really, really hope that Bardugo might consider writing yet another series in this world so that we can feel as though we can get some closure on his story. It cannot end here.

“Saints,” I swore. “I forgot how often I want to stab you.”
“So I haven’t lost my touch.”

In this one, I actually enjoyed all of the male leads which I think is rare for me! It's more of a thing these days for YA to be full of formidable female leads and while there was a definite strong female cast and some wonderfully developing female friendships, Bardugo didn't leave the men out of it - Nikolia, Mal and even the Darkling; they are all complex characters with intricate backstories that make them who they are and they all have their own strengths and their own demons to contend with.

“You might make me a better man.”
“And you might make me a monster.”

This final installment both wrapped up the story line and left me with unanswered questions. I closed the book with a sort of desolate feeling that, even though things worked out for the most part, the triumph came with some devastating costs and it wasn't an absolute and all powerful victory for the 'good guys'. It was definitely something that tugged on all the feels.

With all the elements that make up a fantasy series, The Grisha is one I don't think you want to miss.

Siege and Storm (Grisha #2)

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