Sunday, July 27, 2014

Well Worth the Wait: Ruin and Rising

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (Grisha Trilogy #3)
Henry Holt, 2014

*As this is the final book in a series, there are some spoilers about previous books - you have been warned!*

It is almost impossible for me to believe that the Grisha Trilogy is Leigh Bardugo's first series, and that Shadow and Bone was her first book. That debut was incredibly strong, the second installment Siege and Storm was even more complex, and so to finally arrive at Ruin and Rising, I'm in complete and absolute awe. As a novel on its own as well as the end of a series, this book does everything right.

Picking up several months after the events of book two, Alina is physically weak from her ordeal but still committed to her goal of finding the third of Marazova's amplifiers and destroying the Darkling and the Fold once and for all. The losses have been great, but those who are still by her side prove themselves in interesting and surprising ways. Their journey takes them across Ravka, pushing Alina past her limits. She knows she is Ravka's only chance for survival, but when long buried secrets and truths come to light, will Alina be able to pay the price that is required if it means destroying everything she loves, including Ravka itself?

I'm so happy I decided to reread the first two books before diving into the third because all the details
Me with Leigh at the Fierce Reads Tour
stop at Anderson's Bookshop (Naperville, IL)
of the previous installments were fresh in my mind, making me see exactly what a master of her craft Bardugo is. Off-handed comments from book 1 suddenly became pillars of importance here. Ruin and Rising is also a shining example of character growth. Alina has come so far from the small, sickly map maker in the First Army that we met all those years ago. Now as the Sun Summoner and the face of a revolution, she is still hugely flawed but incredibly strong and full of feeling. I have always admired this character in that she is imperfect and she knows it, she struggles every single day, she has self-doubt, which is to say, she reminds me of me -  a real girl who wants so badly to do what's right and to be happy, but knows that sometimes to have one means giving up the other.

And Alina is not the only incredible character on display here. Her relationship with Mal has grown so beautifully over the course of the series, and here it is put to the test more than ever before. They have both been scarred by this war, and the two of them always tug at my heart strings. Genya is a woman transformed, David gets some time in the spotlight, Nikolai continues to be captivating, and then of course there is the Darkling, as sinister as ever. Of course, he really is just a man underneath it all, and yes, readers finally learn his name. I applaud Bardugo again here for how she so expertly handled his plot line, character growth, and background mythology.

All in all, I completely loved this book. While I was a bit nervous at the pacing of the first 50 pages (a smidge slow for my taste), there was absolutely no reason to be. As soon as I read the final page, all I wanted to do was go back to the beginning and start it again. And if you've loved this series and aren't ready to let go of the Grishaverse, never fear: Bardugo's next series, The Dregs, will be taking place in the same world. If you love fantasy novels and have read the other two books in this series, pick up Ruin and Rising as soon as possible. This is one of my favorite books of the year, one of my favorite series of all time, and I can't sing its praises enough.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.

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