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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising

by Leigh Bardugo

Series: Grisha (3)

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Note: Spoilers for the previous two books in this trilogy


This is the third book in a young adult fantasy series that takes place in a world that includes a subset of people called Grisha, who are born with rare abilities to manipulate matter at its most fundamental levels. Etherealki can summon elements of nature to raise winds or create tides or fires. Corporalki can stop hearts, heal the wounded, or change a person’s appearance. Materialki are fabricators who work with textiles, chemicals, or metals.

In the first book, Shadow and Bone, we meet our two main protagonists, Alina and Mal, who grew up as orphans in the same house. When they are older and serving in the army together, Alina inadvertently discovers she has Grisha powers as a summoner, but unlike other summoners, she, uniquely, can call up sunlight. In this she is the counterpart of the de facto ruler of the nation of Ravka, the Darkling, who can summon darkness.

The Darkling hears of Alina and wants to use her powers to enhance his own. This can be accomplished by attaching “amplifiers” to Alina - the bones of mythical creatures that can increase a Grisha’s power by coming into contact with the Grisha. In the first book, the antlers of a storied stag are found and the Darkling has them placed - permanently - it seems - around Alina’s neck. Mal, renowned as a tracker, helped to find the stag (without knowing it was meant for Alina). He is pressed into service to help the Darkling find a second amplifier, the scales of a mythical dragon known as the Sea Whip. Legend holds that with three amplifiers, the power of the Darkling and Alina will be total and invincible.

In the second book, Siege and Storm, Mal helps find the Sea Whip, and Alina acquires the second amplifier. Now she seeks the third with the help of Nicolai, the charming and generous Prince of Ravka. But Alina is held captive “for her own safety” this time by the Apparat, the head priest, in an underground cathedral. The Apparat also wants to use Alina, to build his own religion based on belief in her powers.

Review of Ruin and Rising:

This final book, Ruin and Rising, begins two months after Alina’s battle with the Darkling. She is kept under strict control and observation by the Apparat. She needs to regain her strength by making contact with the light, but there is none to be had underground. If she could recover, she could escape and go after the third amplifier, for which she experiences a ravenous hunger. The Darkling understands her greed for power as well as the loneliness she feels by her difference, and stokes these feelings in her through the strange bond they share. The desires compete within her: the greed and ruthlessness of the “new” Alina, and the dreams of the “old” Alina - just a girl who wants to be loved by a boy. But those dreams no longer applied to a Sun Summoner, nor to a Saint.

Alina finally manages to get out from under the thumb of the Apparat, with a great deal of help from her friends, and she, Mal, and her group of Grisha go off in search of the firebird. But when they find it, they learn an astounding truth about the third amplifier, and must face some hard decisions to confront the Darkling.

Discussion: Alina was never the most likable of the protagonists, but she is the hub around which all the others revolve, and their reactions to her drive the story forward. Mal is heroic and self-sacrificing, and Nikolai - solid and brave, is a true king no matter what his form. The Grisha are so different from one another, but each endearing in unique ways. This is especially true with Genya, once heartbreakingly beautiful outside, but always heartbreakingly beautiful within.

There are some wonderful turns of phrase in these books. I loved how Alina described one of the Grisha in her group:

“Stigg was short and stocky with nearly white blond hair. He had the solid, stuffy appearance of a prayer candle.”

And there was this fear she expressed as her group traveled through the underground tunnels to escape:

“If the earth came down [in the tunnel] . . . we would be crushed and no one would ever know, wildflowers pressed between the pages of a book and forgotten.”

The author also cleverly employs non-specific nouns and a symmetrical story structure to convey so much meaning at the beginning and end of her saga.

Evaluation: This series has memorable characters, who grow in complexity and appeal as the series progresses. Bardugo jumps up a level in skill in her next duology, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, but these books are entertaining and memorable in their own right. ( )
  nbmars | Dec 1, 2017 |
Read this review, and many more on my blog October Tune!

A couple of months ago, I decided to try out the book called Shadow and Bone, that author Lauren DeStefano kept talking about on twitter. It was one of the best decisions I made this year, because I completely fell in love with the Grisha trilogy, with Ravka and Alina and Mal and even the Darkling. I read the first two books as quick as I could, but when I received Ruin and Rising I hesitated. Because a lot of people had given it one or two star ratings, and because it was the last book in the series. I really wanted to read it, but I also didn't. But when I finally did, I fell in love with the series even more.

Like the previous book, this one has some nice action in the first couple of chapters that got me really excited, and it has some other battles throughout the entire book, which I loved, because I am a person of action. I can't really say which of the battle scenes were my favourite, because they were all amazing and thrilling.

There weren't really any new characters in this book, apart from the Soldat Sol but not a lot of them were actually called by name so I didn't really remember any of them until the end. Then there was Baghra's servant boy who was called Misha (which made me laugh out loud, because I imagined an eight year old Misha Collins after this), who I loved a lot because he was adorable. Of course there were all the old characters, including Genya, David, Tamar, Tolya and Zoya. I have to say, I got used to Zoya a bit more in this story, and I actually started liking her a bit. There was one particular scene where Alina was feeling awful because of something she'd seen, and there were Genya, Nadia, Zoya and Tamar looking after her and trying to make her feel better. I loved them even more after that.

As for the romance, there was still a bit of a love quartet going on, which I still didn't really enjoy. I still ship Alina and Mal a lot and I was really rooting for them throughout this book, even though they've had some rough times in the second book.

The writing was, as usual, amazing and I just wanted to keep on reading and reading, until the last couple of chapters, which kind of took me a whole day to read. I didn't want it to end, and I didn't want it to end badly, so I just read really slowly and put the book down at least five times in an hour so I could watch some TV or check the internet. But that was just me being extremely nervous.

I have to say, I am very happy with the way the book and the series ended, it did give me a lot of emotions and I kept on shouting 'no' and 'omg' in the last couple of chapters, but I loved it, and I think Leigh made the right choices. Some things really surprised me, and other didn't really, but it was just really really good. Yes.

In the end, I loved Ruin and Rising a lot, and I am so glad I decided to follow Lauren DeStefano's advice and pick up the first book. If you love books about magic (although it's not really magic) set in a world similar to Russia, you should definitely check out the Grisha trilogy!

My reaction to this book in one gif:

( )
  october.tune | Nov 15, 2017 |
I immediately started reading this one after the previous book. I liked it and was surprised by the ending, which is nice and doesn't happen all too often. ( )
  Heldin | Oct 15, 2017 |
More like 3.5 stars, but I'll round up. This series was meh. The first book was great. The story was set up to go places. But, the characters never really developed.
Book 2 started out- well, just plain awful- and it just was plain awful, until about the last thirty pages.
I was hoping book 2 was just awful because the author needed to stretch the story out a little longer. But, I was really disappointed in book 3.
I'm happy with the way things ended though. The final battle scene was pretty sweet. As in awesome.
There were some surprises in this book that kept it interesting. I guess I was just disappointed in the character development.
Alina was pretty flat and Mal was just barely more than an abstract thought. Lame.
I didn't ever really feel what the characters were supposed to be feeling.
I'm kind of bummed about Six of Crows now. I LOVED book one. The characters are very complex.
I'm afraid to read book now though. ( )
  mollypitchermary | Oct 11, 2017 |
On the overall the series was great but the ending was meh and my Nikolai / Alina ship did not sail. But Mal increased approval in my eyes... he's still really eh though.

I'll sum up the series in some grand post on Wonderland Novels eventually. ( )
  raisinetta | Sep 25, 2017 |
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Für meinen Vater, Harve.
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The monster's name was Izumrud, the great worm, and there were those who claimed he had made the tunnels that ran beneath Ravka.
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"The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Alina forges new alliances as she and Mal search for Morozova's last amplifier. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that alters her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields"--… (more)

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