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Book Review: “Ruin and Rising” by Leigh Bardugo

– Posted in: Fantasy Book Reviews

The Trilogy Ends

Ruin and Rising finishes Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy.

Here’s the Amazon Blurb:

“Enter the Grishaverse with Book Three of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy by the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.

‘Soldier. Summoner. Saint. The nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

‘The Darkling rules from his shadow throne while a weakened Alina Starkov recovers from their battle under the dubious protection of the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Now her hopes lie with the magic of a long-vanished ancient creature and the chance that an outlaw prince still survives.

‘As her allies and enemies race toward war, only Alina stands between her country and a rising tide of darkness that could destroy the world. To win this fight, she must seize a legend’s power—but claiming the firebird may be her ruin.”

My Response

I have mixed feelings about this one. The writing is excellent as always, but for me, the story and the characters faltered.

The story: The beginning is slow, really slow. Alina along with her crew are hiding. She’s lost a lot of the strength of character she developed over the first two books, never to fully regain her inner strength. In this section, Apparat, who is hiding them and trying to control Alina, seems to be the antagonist, but he’s more like a weak background shadow. The darkling is ruling the kingdom, and the world outside the caves is worse than every before, but all that is off stage. Alina is going to hunt the firebird, but that adventure doesn’t begin right away. When Nikolai returns to help her, the story begins in earnest and I was extremely happy to see Nikolai, a character with wit, charm, and personality. The later half of the book works better than the first half.

The characters: For me, and I realize that many readers will find Mel a heartthrob, he doesn’t live up to the potential I saw in the first book. The Darkling still has power over Alina, which ads a little tension to the story. But Alina’s choices don’t match a strong protagonist. Her choices seem more like the middle book of a trilogy. The romance gets settled; however, there is some Deus ex Machina at work to wrap the story up that left me unsatisfied. Alina takes the easy way out. So, I didn’t find her a satisfying protagonist.

I read a lot of YA fantasy and romance is mandatory. I usually ignore that part of the YA genre because the outcome is always predictable with little variation. There’s a pattern to these romances and Ruin and Rising follows the safe path, which is a shame because the ending could have been much more powerful.

Having read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom first and loving both books, I was disappointed with the final book.

Other Posts

The Grisha Trilogy:

Book Review of Shadow and Bone (Grisha Book 1)
Book Review of Siege and Storm (Grisha Book 2)

The Crows:

Review of Six of Crows
Review of Crooked Kingdom

The Usual Reminders

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