Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
published in 2014
Purchased as an ebook
“I screamed as power flooded through me, as I burned, consumed from the inside. I was a living star. I was combustion. I was a new sun born to shatter air and eat the earth.
I am ruination.”
In the third installment of the Grisha Trilogy, Alina must bring an end to the havoc that the Darkling is wreaking on Ravka from his newly gained position of power. While the Darkling has an entire army of Grisha at his command, Alina has but a few people willing to fight for her. As she, Mal, and their friends race to find the third Amplifier, the firebird, Alina learns more and more about the Darkling’s past. All the while, Alina must deal with religious fanatics who believe her to be Sankta Alina (or Saint Alina).
This book started off a bit too slow for my liking. Much of the beginning of the novel was spent in some dark underground tunnels where nothing of interest happens. Like any other novel, the action eventually picks up, however I wish it had happened sooner. Although, the ending was so gripping that it makes sense to have such a slow buildup. Also, I’m not sure if I am the only person who had this issue, but I had a hard time keeping track of all the characters and remembering the meanings of the words which were in Russian. As in many other rich fantasies, there are many characters which aid the protagonist in his/ her quest. However, to me, it was difficult to remember exactly who the characters were or what they were doing there. Eventually, I had to just stop dwelling over that detail so much and just keep reading. As for the Russian terms, it would have been helpful to have some sort of glossary or something at the end of the book. That being said, I got through the book just fine and I don’t feel like I missed any super important details, so maybe I’m just being high maintenance.
Looking at this book from a personal point of view, I was a bit disappointed in the fact that my favorite characters were not present in that much of the book. The Darkling, for example, is always talked about, but very rarely is he actually physically there. However, I enjoyed the way that Alina seemed to be having an inner struggle in which she is constantly afraid of becoming like the Darkling, and yet still willing to do whatever it takes to gain the third amplifier. This character trait added a layer to the book which keeps the reader worrying about the result of Alina gaining the third amplifier. Also, I have to admit that I appreciate the way Alina is not some naive little girl who only sees the good in people. Alina has learned that every person has an agenda or something to gain from helping her, and she keeps that in mind throughout the novel.
Judging Ruin and Rising holistically, I would say that it was an emotionally compelling and engrossing end to the trilogy. I had a hard time putting the book down at about the halfway mark all the way up until the end. None of the characters escape unscarred (either physically or mentally), and that really emphasizes the effects of war on a country and its people.
An epic trilogy such as this one deserves an epic final installment, and Bardugo does not disappoint.