Ruin and Rising
Cover image and summary 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 is the third and final book in the series, following Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. Also, if you haven’t read those books yet, spoiler alert! I borrowed this from my best friend on our way to Toronto on Friday to watch a couple of baseball games, and finished it before we headed back home on Sunday. I didn’t want to put the book down!
(I’m going to keep this short because I tried to write a longer review that kept turning into variations on ‘I love this book OMG it’s the best you guys read it now’.)
The story definitely had an epic feel to it. At times it reminded me of stories like The Lord of the Rings, with the characters’ journey, the major battles, and the conflicts between the characters. I never had any clue what was going to happen next and there were twists and turns that totally surprised me.
Leigh Bardugo made me care about characters who were not necessarily central to the story, and I felt sad when something happened to any of them. There were moments where I almost teared up (me! The person who didn’t even cry while reading and watching The Fault in Our Stars!). Even Mal became a much more interesting character in this book, and I actually cared about him, after complaining that he had become a non-character in the previous book! And of course, I was beyond happy to see Nikolai a.k.a. Sturmhond return. He is the best!
The Darkling was fascinating. He and Alina had a connection that she wanted to explore, but I never felt like Alina was in love with him. Their relationship is dark and complex, and I was super impressed with the way Bardugo portrayed it.
The ending was fabulous. This book honestly gave me everything I wanted: action, romance, magic, tragedy, and a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. This is likely to be one of the best books I read all year, and at the moment I can’t think of a better series finale than Ruin and Rising. This series is an absolute must read.