‘Ruin and Rising’ by Leigh Bardugo is earth shattering.
Alina has barely escaped with her life after trying to take down the Darkling but after learning he is very much still alive, she sets out on a quest to find the final amplifier which she hopes will give her enough strength and power to end it all for good. With the Darkling always in her thoughts, Alina wonders whether any of it will be enough, and when she finds the firebird, is the cost of power too great?
First off, I need to talk about the Darkling because this trilogy would be nothing without him and I feel like he was one of the best characters I’ve ever had the chance to read. Even though we see less of him in this book, he was very much a focal point to Alina which added tonnes to the story. Like Alina said ‘he was just a boy -brilliant, blessed with too much power, burdened by eternity’. I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken. His drive for a Ravka united and his obsession with Alina is all down to loneliness and and the pressure of power. Our Sun Summoner felt this way a few times and it allowed her to understand him on a level not even his mother could. Which makes his death heartbreaking. I get that his hunger for power drove him to unnecessary violence and this did make him the villain of the story, but I can’t help but see him as misunderstood. His final scene had me in tatters.
Alina was courageous. I felt like she was more honest with herself and others in this book and it allowed myself to delve deeper into her character. She wasn’t as ashamed of herself in this book and I commend her ability to take her fate straight on. Her connection with the Darkling is much deeper in this one and all the more bittersweet. I would like to see an alternate version of this book where they are together, they could do great things (not necessarily good). I was amazed that I had guessed Mal’s situation correctly but saddened when I realised what came with the territory. I was shocked to see that Alina went through with it but I’m glad he finally got his happy ending.
The side characters were pure gold. David reminded me so much of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and Harshaw with Oncat were absolute loves of mine. Nikolai came through with his intellect and charm and even though there was a time when things were looking questionable for him, he still tried to make the best of it which is exactly the type of person you need running a country. Level-headed and able to turn a situation into your advantage.
There was a lot of death in this book (and the series as a whole!) but there were moments of light. For a new age to begin, you must be out with the old and as hard as is for me and the characters to accept that, it is what’s best for Ravka, and ultimately that’s what everyone wanted in the first place.
This was a brilliant conclusion to the trilogy and I am very sad that it is all over. I look forward immensely to Bardugo’s collection of novella’s coming out in the next few days, I am not ready to move on from the acclaimed Grishaverse.
“It’s true,” I said softly. “You are stronger, wiser, infinite in experience.” I leaned forward and whispered, my lips brushing the shell of his ear. “But I am an apt pupil.”
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