by Leigh Bardugo
Published by Henry Holt
on June 17, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.This review - and the synopsis above - may contain minor spoilers for the first two books. But NO SPOILERS for Ruin and Rising here...
My take: I've enjoyed these books so much. I'm sad to see this story end, but I thought Ruin and Rising was a fitting ending to a really excellent YA trilogy. Some of my predictions came to pass, one major one did not, there were a few BIG surprises and some smaller ones, but overall I was pretty happy.
Now I will (cagily, to avoid spoilers) discuss some of my favorite parts of the trilogy:
The Story World
High fantasy and I are not always BFFs. Some fantasy books are too quest-y for me, and I am not into reading about fairies and goblins and elves. But the Slavic-inspired story world here was a revelation to me. Gone were the medieval trappings of fantasies I've read in the past. This world, seemingly inspired by Russia (with nods to neighboring countries that seem vaguely Finnish and Chinese) has a unique language. Customs. Food. Folklore. It feels both fresh and completely real.
Yes, there are some familiar character types here: the orphan, the mentor, the world-weary villain. But all the characters in the story, even the minor ones, are three-dimensional and believable. When characters from prior books popped up, I was like, "Hey, old friend..."
I love books that can seamlessly blend the serious with the comical, the sublime with the ridiculous. Each time I've read a book in this trilogy, I've been surprised by how many funny moments there are.
This is a topic upon which reasonable minds can differ. I mean, when you've got the Darkling, Sturmhond and Mal, there's going to be some disagreement among readers. And that's all I better say about that.
Each of these books has had a gasp-worthy moment for me. In Shadow and Bone, it happened on page 303-304. In Siege and Storm, it was on 143. In Ruin and Rising, it has to be a tie between page 242 and page 377. Whoa... I was not expecting either of those things, but they both really worked. In a shocking kind of way. And page 377 was exactly like that time when ... *zips lips*
I do have a couple of questions which cannot be asked or answered here. If you've read the book and want to chat, email me!
Please, no spoilers in comments, or I will have to send a flesh-eating volcra after you....