the final grishaverse book brings a sense of finality, and i’m not ready for this series to end. the pacing in rule of wolves was fantastically done, and i really loved the cameos from other grishaverse characters. keep reading for a non-spoiler review, and then some of my thoughts about the book (with spoilers)!
Title: Rule of Wolves
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)
Synopsis: The wolves are circling and a young king will face his greatest challenge in the explosive finale of the instant #1 New York Times-bestselling King of Scars Duology.
The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.
The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.
The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.
King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.
this is the foreseeable end of the grishaverse books (for now, until LB makes up her mind about SOC3), so i had very high expectations. i loved this book, the pacing, the characters, and the plot. but there were some parts that just didn’t feel necessary, and to be honest, i was a bit disappointed with this final book.
let’s start with the positives. the pacing was amazing, compared to king of scars. right from the start, things are happening fast and you’re always hanging onto the words. leigh balances serious topics with wholesome conversations and humourous jabs. the new characters felt very fleshed out, each with their own motives, and we got snippets from beloved grishaverse characters like alina and mal, the crows, and the darkling. nina and hanne had a beautiful romance, and i’m hoping we can see more of them soon. nikolai and zoya’s relationship was so healthy, and i really loved that. the action was fast-paced, the romance was slow-burn, and the suspense was kept at an all-time high.
however, there were also some negatives that i didn’t love. for starters, we’re given a darkling/yuri pov in the second half of the book, and it was so out-of-character for the darkling as we know him. perhaps i just interpreted him wrong, but the pov was so bland and typical villain, it doesn’t show much of the darkling’s wit and charm from the grisha trilogy. as well, only two named characters die in this book. that seems so unlikely in such a brutal fantasy world, especially as during a war. even the grisha trilogy had more deaths. furthermore, i think the zoyalai ending was a bit cheap and unfounded. it didn’t make sense as a decision that a monarch would make, or politically in that particular moment, but i guess it made sense in leigh bardugo’s eyes? oh and finally, the shu princess plotline was just discarded after rule of wolves, which i found frustrating. it had the potential of being a good plot point, but then the princess was just mainly ignored and the marriage proposal wasn’t even followed through? someone write a fanfic about this please, i want to see the zoyalai angst.
if you don’t want to read the spoilers, skip onto the “conclusion” heading, after “end spoilers”!
about david: david’s death, because it was unfounded and unneeded. yes, david loves his work, but even he wouldn’t leave genya in the middle of their wedding dance to go to the materialki quarters. and his death didn’t do anything for the plot — it occurred too early in the book, and the only result was everyone being sad, and group bonding. ravka didn’t suffer horribly, and he’s never really brought up again. what was the point of killing off a perfectly good character? and that was the only casualty in the main characters, too. it wasn’t a strong loss, and it wasn’t a useful loss. same goes for the darkling. so he subjected himself to eternal torture via being impaled by a thorn. why? it is so out of character (as was his pov narration) for him to self-sacrifice and aid team nikolai during the war, especially since he went through all the trouble of being revived in the first place. i just feel like his whole revival could have had a bigger purpose, than just being half-present, saying some things at the right time, scaring alina, and being the perfect plot device to solve the final problem.
about the zoyalai ending: everyone suddenly accepting zoya as queen after jabbing at nikolai for so long makes no sense in application. it takes more than one dragon-protects-everyone scene in a battle to win over so many political enemies, and i don’t think the ravkan government officials would accept it so fast either. did LB suddenly forget that nikolai being a bastard, then having a bit of the darkling inside him, caused so many problems? as much as i love queen zoya, i think that putting it in the last few chapters of a long series feels forced. she is grisha, suli, and able to turn into a literal dragon — all of which are heavily discriminated against in ravka. i am so ???
overall, it was a wonderful book and experience; it just doesn’t feel like the end. LB left lots of strings open for a SOC 3, so i hope she writes that before the tv show gains too big of a non-reader following, because then wonky things happen to the target audience. anyways, STREAM SHADOW AND BONE ON NETFLIX APRIL 23!!