Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha, #3
Release Date: June 4th 2015
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
This review may contain spoilers for previous book(s) in the series.
My Thoughts On…
The Darkling now sits on the throne, and Alina has spent months hiding from him underground in the tunnels of Ravka; her every move is controlled by the Apparat who leads a cult convinced that Alina is a living saint. Alina did not escape her battle with the Darkling unscathed and being trapped underground away from the sunlight has weakened her, turning her into a shell of the once powerful Grisha she once was. She doesn’t trust the Apparat, there has always been something about him that made her feel uneasy, and she is desperate to return to the surface, desperate to find the third amplifier.
However Mal has a plan to take control away from the Apparat and return it to Alina, and with the help of the other Grisha hiding out underground Alina manages to break free and restore her sun summoning power. They escape through the tunnels and return to the surface.
Alina knows she cannot face the Darkling again without the third amplifier, the Firebird, but before she and Mal can begin tracking the third of Morozova’s mythical creatures they are ambushed by a militia group and only manage to escape when Nikolai comes to their rescue. He takes Mal, Alina, and the Grisha they travel with to the mountains where the remnants of the First Army are hiding out having escaped the Darkling’s wrath in the capital.
However when the Darkling attacks the mountain and takes out Nikolai, scattering the remnants of the First Army, Alina is forced to flee with Mal and the remaining Grisha. They head south and once they arrive at the southern mountains Mal starts to track down the Firebird for Alina to use as the third amplifier. There are a lot of mixed reviews about the ending, personally I quite liked it, I felt it fit Alina’s character and her story arc. It allowed her to have the future she desired without abandoning her country, though she had to sacrifice quite a bit in the end.
Alina has always had her doubts. She may have pushed them aside in the second book to lead the Second Army but now she starts to question what she actually wants instead of what Mal, Nikolai, The Darkling, and the other Grisha want. They all seem to be pulling her in different directions but she remains hesitant, unsure of which way to turn. Alina has all the makings of a great leader but despite her powerful summoning ability she is still just a human girl going up against someone much older and more powerful than she is.
Mal improved a little in this book, but not enough to make me like his character. He is still keeping his distance from Alina but he is not constantly drinking or getting beaten up by Grisha to prove a point. Now that they are out of the Little Palace, and away from the Royal Court and all their rules, he is more confident and feels like he has an actual purpose. He still keeps his distance from Alina, which only serves to hurt them both, but when it comes down to it he is always going to be there to help her and give her what she needs.
Mal and Alina’s relationship is still tense in Ruin and Rising. He is still by her side but he only speaks to Alina as a guard would. He still believes that Alina should marry Nikolai to save the kingdom and unite the people of Ravka. Alina is not sure of what she wants and she remains hesitant whenever Nikolai speaks of their future. Nikolai’s first, and only, love is always going to be his people. It will make him a brilliant ruler but not the man Alina needs by her side.
While regrouping in the mountains Alina meets Baghra again, and she learns more about the Darkling and Morozova. It’s hard not to feel a little for the Darkling. He had to learn some harsh lessons growing up and they shaped him into someone cold and a little cruel; someone who is willing to sacrifice anyone and everyone he cares about for power because in his mind, power is everything. However there are times when you can almost see beyond his mask of indifference to the lonely little boy he must have been, learning these lessons from his mother who had been hardened to the world long before he was born. He could have trusted Alina, maybe even loved her, but their two paths split and instead they find themselves on opposing sides of this civil war.
We saw a lot of Ravka and the Little Palace in the first two books; in the third we see both the underground and the mountains of Ravka. Alina spends the first part of the book hidden underground Ravka’s cathedrals; in dank, dark tunnels where she has no sunlight to rejuvenate her powers. The tunnels Alina, Mal and the Grisha later travel through are both beautiful in their own way but dangerous too with the Darkling attacking the surface trying to draw out the Apparat. Nikolai’s hide-out in the mountain is the exact opposite. It’s a haven for Alina and the Grisha, somewhere they are actually safe and have a chance to regroup.
Ruin and Rising was, in my opinion, a brilliant book to end the trilogy and Alina’s story. I’m in a hurry to read Six of Crows now; I can’t get enough of Leigh Bardugo’s books. Has anyone read it yet? Let me know what you thought if you have but no spoilers.
What did you think of Ruin and Rising? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.