Do I… even have thoughts on this book? I’ve got to say, this was better than I expected, but still managed to disappoint me a little. That may have been influenced by the fact that I already knew the ending from a year ago, since I decided to skip this book and go straight into Six of Crows when I first read the Grishaverse. And I also may or may not have read the Fandom Wiki pages, so the plot twists at the end didn’t surprise me as much as they were meant to. But all in all, I enjoyed Ruin and Rising much more than I planned to!
Title: Ruin and Rising
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
Synopsis: 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.
I’ve got to admit, the cast of characters are not as bad as I make them out to be. Sure, alina and mal are still as bland as cardboard, but they have their good parts. I think their character arc wasn’t super strong, but did fulfil their aspirations from the start of the trilogy, so I can’t really criticize on that.
The Darkling, on the other hand, was kinda shoved to the side in the end, in terms of character development. His character basically… Didn’t have an arc? We just learned more about his past and his motives, which doesn’t really count as a satisfying character arc. I did enjoy the prequel story, “the Demon in the Wood”, because it expanded on why he came to be the cruel character that he is.
Overall, I think the side characters are also underdeveloped? like, they have a basic plot line but are not very three-dimensional, and I just couldn’t relate to any of them. Sergei’s character did a complete 360º from the first book, and I didn’t really like that. As well, Ruby being a pilgrim? That creeped me out, since it just… Doesn’t really connect for me? It felt slightly out of character, but that may have been Leigh’s intention, to show that pretty much anyone can become hopelessly devoted to an image of a saint? Idk, there’s probably a deeper meaning but I can’t think of it right now.
Also, Nikolai. his character was so butchered, I didn’t like it. Like,, he was kind of absent in this book, and his scenes didn’t really matter? Literally just a plot device to create malina angst I guess. He wasn’t in the beginning because he was in hiding. And then he shows up dramatically, as he should, to save alina from being dumb. And then he solves some minor conflicts and forces his father to abdicate, and then *poof* 🙁
As with any Leigh Bardugo book, the pacing is a roller coaster. The beginning and the end are always super action packed, with a bunch of deaths, but then the middle is a snoozefest except for the few smaller, quick *wtf* points that exist to keep us all on our toes. I’ve gotten used to that, so I’m not really against it? But I was completely lost at some parts where it was just war planning (I always get bored when there’s war planning involved) and also in the White Cathedral with the Apparat. Speaking of the Apparat, what was the point of his plotline of trying to be the antagonist at the beginning?? It literally doesn’t get resolved, and the cult of Sankta Alina still continues. I only have this: ?????
Also, some of the conflicts (read: most of the conflicts) could have been solved so easily if only someone did the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM TO FACT CHECK BEFORE THEY START MOVING. Point in question: Kribirsk. Why did NOBODY try to fact check Alina??
Oh also I wanted to talk about Baghra. Why is she using a 7 year old as a servant? My sister is 7 and she can’t even eat food without dropping some. How is Misha such a good helper,, and omg he is the cUTEST. And also I loved Baghra’s backstory. She was a bit of an @ss to Aleks but I guess we forgive her since… she went skydiving.
I don’t even have to say it at this point, since Leigh’s worldbuilding is absolute gold. but also I had (and still have) no idea what kind of mountain-spaceship-port building they were on before the Darkling’s forces attacked that first time? Like, after everyone escaped via Nikolai, and before Baghra goes yeet, where were they? All I got from that was that a) they were in the side of a mountain; b) there were many rooms; and c) you could see a meteor shower from somewhere.
But overall, I still adore the various parts of the Grishaverse and their unique cultures. I kept on forgetting character and place names, because they’re in Ravkan (based on russian) and I was very confused. who is Luchenko? Nevsky? I don’t remember these people? But it was still cool though, I swear.
Also, I enjoyed seeing the hallucination/projections between the Darkling and Alina, and seeing how they could influence each other. In fact, I have so much to say about Darklina that I’m writing a whole blog post for that. Keep an eye out 😉
Even with all the “???” points, I still thought it was a good conclusion to the series, and a good wrap-up for these characters. Alina deserves to have an ordinary life, as much as I hate to see it, and Mal… Ugh I still don’t like him. But he is become a blade I guess 😉 I’m reading six of crows next, and I’m so ready to like the Crows so much better than this… Grisha gang.
OK NOW I WANT TO RANT ABOUT SOME SPOILERY THINGS SO DON’T KEEP READING UNLESS YOU WANT TO SEE THE SPOILERS.
Here are some points that have been on my mind:
– Pilgrims are scary. They are SO scary. How did they just put up with people literally worshipping Alina with their every breath, and let hordes of them die for her? Isn’t Alina supposed to be the stereotypical “I’m not like the other girls, I think it’s cruel for people to die for me” kind of person? Hmm if she’s gonna start using others as human shields… *whispers* Darklina FTW
– Speaking of the Darkling, can we talk about the incest scare… I was worried that Leigh Bardugo would pull a Cassandra Clare on us. But now it’s just a cousin/uncle-in-law kinda thing? Ugh it would have been so much stronger if Alina was the one related to Morozova, because y’know, one sister is darkness and the other is light? So Alina is the descendent of the ~light~? And then that would guarantee that nobody (or rather, very few people) can master all three of Morozova’s amplifiers, since Alina would have to die to get the third, and she can’t exactly use it if she’s dead. But I understand why Leigh made it Mal, since having distant cousin-ish incest in books is Not Good.
– ALEKSANDER MOROZOVA BREAKS MY HEART!! ALL HE WANTS IS TO BE LOVED AND TO HAVE AN EQUAL TO TALK TO ABOUT HIS TROUBLES!! HE MAY BE A THOUSAND YEARS OLD BUT HE JUST WANTS A FRIEND FKJDLSGDJF I BLAME ALL HIS EVILNESS ON BAGHRA’S HORRIBLE PARENTING BECAUSE THIS IS A B O Y I WANT TO GIVE HIM A HUG OMG
– also imo WHY IS THE FIREBIRD,, NOT THE THIRD AMPLIFIER?? WHAT IS IT THEN? I may have just missed that plotline because I tend to zone out when they talk about the historical stuff, but why is it Mal. Mal the [email protected]$$ blade man. IF HE’S THE AMPLIFIER, WHY DID ALINA NOT SHOW HER GRISHA POWERS AT THE ORPHANAGE? it literally makes no sense.
– Also after she did the stabby stabby to Mal, what even happened? I do not follow. The light… went into other normal people… and so now normal people have the light summoning powers too? Why was this never talked about in Six of Crows? And why did Mal’s death make that happen, even though she didn’t get his bones out yet? SHOULDN’T SHE HAVE WORN HIS BONES ON HER ARM BEFORE THIS WHOLE 3 AMPLIFIER LIGHT THING STARTED HAPPENING?? I have so many questions.
– Also the Malina 18+ scene made me uncomfy. I don’t know if it was because they are literal cHILDREN and they don’t even have the spicy compatibility or that I just don’t like straight couples anymore, but I was feeling the secondhand embarrassment. Ew.
OK IM DONE NOW THANK U FOR READING MY RANTS MWAH
- Have you read any Grishaverse books? If so, which was your favorite one and why?