The Grisha Trilogy: Ruin and Rising

“Beauty was your armor. Fragile stuff, all show. But what’s inside you? That’s steel. It’s brave and unbreakable. And it doesn’t need fixing.”

Title: Ruin and Rising

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Series: The Grisha Trilogy # 3

Publication: June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.

Pages: 422

Source: Christmas bookhaul

 

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.

My Thoughts:

Ruin and Rising in one word: painful. This book was brilliant. It was a flawless example of the perfect ending to an amazing series – no matter how much it tore my heart out in the process. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Leigh Bardugo is a goddess and a master at crafting breathtakingly beautiful tales that transport you to a whole new universe. Just wow… truly. I cannot find the words to accurately express just how in love with this series I have become.

“I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no shelter but mine.”

Because I can, here is a quick play by play of my reactions to this book.

At the beginning (AKA time with The Apparat):

Reappearance of Nikolai:

Genya vs. The King:

Firebird discovery:

THAT scene with Mal when at the orchard:

Certain point in the battle against The Darkling:

 

By the end:

“Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.”

In all honesty, that about covers it. But, in this case a picture is not worth a thousand words. Ruin and Rising is so much more than I could ever hope to convey to you guys – it was a gem, a diamond in the rough as it were (especially when compared to other series conclusions). This book was a no-nonesense, nitty-gritty final show down between light and darkness illustrated through the lives of a cast of characters I have come to love. There is no sugar coating, no “atta boy” or congratulations. It is dark, dirty, and raw. It gives and it takes. Despite the optimism at the end, this is in no way a happy ending.

“Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay.”

Ruin and Rising tackles the difficult battle of balancing the intimate exploration of relationships with the hardships and trials of war. There is a delicate beauty in the way things are handled and taken care of throughout the plot – relationships are shattered and new ones forged, people face their fears head on and others tuck tail and run. It was an amazing balancing act, and Bardugo tackled it with awe inspiring ease.

“It’s a vow that if I can’t be anything else to you, at least I can be a weapon in your hand.”

There is never a dull moment in this book – even at the beginning. There might be a lull in the obvious action, but just like with Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising waged a battle of wits as well as showcased a brutal fight to the death. There are ups and downs, happiness and grief – it’s all there.

Ruin and Rising was a beautifully bittersweet conclusion to a fabulous trilogy that will forever be on my recommended list. The Grisha Trilogy is all things – it is everything I ever wanted in a series and more. My love for these books is infinite and I will never forget them. If you haven’t read these yet, I suggest you do because they are just that awesome. Leigh Bardugo, thank you for creating something so beautiful and sharing it with the world.

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Teaser Tuesday # 16

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

This weeks Teaser Tuesday is for Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo!

“I will strip away all that you know, all that you love, until you have no shelter but mine.”

“Beauty was your armor. Fragile stuff, all show. But what’s inside you? That’s steel. It’s brave and unbreakable. And it doesn’t need fixing.”

“Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay.”

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The Grisha Trilogy: Siege and Storm

“Weakness is a guise. Wear it when they need to know you’re human, but never when you feel it.”

Title: Siege and Storm

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Series: The Grisha Trilogy # 2

Publication: June 4th 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.

Pages: 430

Source: Christmas bookhaul

 

Summary from Goodreads:

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

 

My Thoughts:

Siege and Storm is a serious emotional whirlwind. It kicks off with a bang, drags you through resulting shenanigans kicking and screaming, and then leaves you gasping for breath after knocking the wind out of you. This book gets down into the nitty gritty of the inner workings of royalty and war – and it pulls it off with a golden, shimmering flourish.

“You two have a bad habit of acting like fools and calling it heroic.”

This book starts off weeks after the events of Siege and Storm, Mal and Alina have had some breathing room and a little time to readjust – despite the fact that they are still being vigorously hunted by The Darkling, his guards, and wayward Grisha. It doesn’t take long for their fragile illusion of safety and freedom to shatter and they soon find themselves in an even worse situation than before. And boy, let me tell you, Siege and Storm is one hell of a situation. The plot is action packed – though it can come off as a little bit slow unless you enjoy intellectual struggles like myself. Not only is this book a thrill ride of unmentionable proportions, it also weighs heavy themes with a gentle loving care that is pure evil genius. This book will make you feel all the feels and it is sooo going to hurt when you wake up in the morning.

Siege and Storm is much more structured when it comes to the contents. Well, maybe structured isn’t the right word here – it’s mature. Shadow and Bone is childsplay compared to this book – but that isn’t a bad thing. Shadow and Bone was testing the waters, putting the feelers out as it were – and Siege and Storm grabs you by the throat and flings you all around the room while laughing maniacally at your suffering. Wait, or is it the amazing sorceress Leigh Bardugo that rips your soul out? Either way, this is one of those rare cases where a sequel blows its predecessor out of the water while inconspicuously whistling. You don’t see anything coming, and trust me, Siege and Storm packs a serious punch.

“Vasily laughed. “I can’t decide if you’re a fearmonger or a coward.”

“And I can’t decide if you’re an idiot or an idiot.”

Aside from the amazing plot that I wish to continuously gush over, there are even more amazingly complex and wonderful characters thrown into the mixing pot of glorious people from Shadow and Bone. Nikolai… oh my precious, he is everything I never knew I needed and more. I have a serious soft spot for the sardonic, not so trust worthy ally that is Nikolai – a man of many names and nicknames which I shall not mention because: spoiler! Nikolai certainly knows how to make an entrance and then steal your heart away with the first words out of his mouth. Scootch your evil, attractive butt over Mr. Darkling – Nikolai is here to stay.

“I have loved you all my life, Mal,” I whispered through my tears. “There is no end to our story.”

On top of the amazingness that is Nikolai, we have lots of old faces going through torturous new trials. Alina and Mal… YOU’RE KILLING ME, SMALLS! Oh my gosh, I wanted to rip my hair out because of these two. Their relationship is so painful and yet I ship it so hard. The two of them together is a ticking time bomb so huge that when it explodes it’s going to make Yellow Stone look like an amateur. I do have to say, though, despite the relationship woes that will now plague me in my sleep, the growth – both good and bad (don’t ask unless you want all your hopes and dreams crushed) is astounding in its abundance. Alina is no longer the shell shocked, struggling to play along girl from book one. No, she is a badass ruler coming into her own power and she hates every second of it because it is destroying her. I love that about her, I really do. She feels real guilt, she isn’t blinded by her purpose to the point of disregarding the feelings of others as we so often see sugar coated in other novels. She feels their pain in a way that will make your eyes water like it’s allergy season – but the heartbreaking thing is her depth of understanding of her own hand in their suffering. It’s just cruel.

“He tapped the sun over his heart. “I came here for you. You’re my flag. You’re my nation.”

Siege and Storm could do no wrong by me. This book was pure perfection and it completely devoured every waking moment I could get with it. It is action packed, gut-wrenchingly painful, and a glorious stage for the conclusion to an amazing series. This is no filler story – this is an adventure within itself and it will never let you forget. This book will leave you shattered, breathless, and devoid of hope in the best possible way you can imagine. These books are something you truly have to experience for yourself in order to understand the remarkable craftsmanship that goes into these delicately weaving plots. Leigh Bardugo is an evil mastermind clearly hell bent on destroying my life, and I welcome her efforts with open arms. I cannot wait to see how this all comes to an end, I hope it’s a giant fire ball.

“I don’t care if you think I’m a Saint or a fool or the Darkling’s whore. If you want to remain at the Little Palace you will follow me. And if you don’t like it, you will be gone by tonight, or I will have you in chains. I am a solider. I am the Sun Summoners. And I’m the only chance you have.”

 

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The Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone

“I’m sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.”
Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha # 1
Publication: June 5th 2012 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Pages: 368
Source: Christmas bookhaul
Summary from Goodreads:
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

My Thoughts:
My heart hurts right now. Goodness… I can’t even comprehend half of the feelings soaring through my chest. I am ecstatic, I am destroyed, I am everything and yet I still want more. Shadow and Bone is a book I have wanted to read for a while and that want increased ten-fold after reading the amazing Six of Crows this past year. I have to tell you – I have just found a revolutionary fantasy novel that took every single expectation I had and blew them out the window with a golden burst of sunlight. This book is everything, this series is going to be everything I think I’ve ever wanted. I cannot remember the last time I rooted so hard for the bad guy before in my life. With a startlingly rich world, a heartbreaking story line, and characters that will make you feel all the feels, Shadow and Bone  a phenomenal work of art.
“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”
All the feels! Ugh… I swear, this book has completely changed the way I feel about certain things and I can’t tell if it’s okay or not. First of all, the world. Oh my goodness, the world of Ravka is a carefully crafted masterpiece pulling inspiration from Russia and IT. IS. FAN-FREAKEN-TASTIC. The world is so complex and well thought out. Each and every little detail is apparent actually means something. There is so much that goes on in the world alone. The development of the Grisha orders and their powers, the way they are designated, all of it. Each and every piece was handled masterfully and it was such a treat to finally read a fantasy novel where the world is totally solid. I was never confused about what was happening, things are sort of self explanatory. The world alone was flawlessly executed and one of the best creations I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
“And there’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either. Unless you were born to be a hawk.”
The characters… they are perfection. Honestly, this entire book is perfection – but the characters are just the icing on a really, really delicious cake. Alina Starkov, our protagonist, is not the normal Young Adult protagonist. She is her own worst enemy throughout most of the novel – not outstanding circumstances. She basically hates herself. She hates the way she looks, she hates how she cannot control what she is, she hates how she was forced to leave the army and become a Grisha. It was quite the breath of fresh air if you ask me. I mean, she had her faults and what not  – I was extremely annoyed when she just took off and ran without trying to figure things out on her own even though she was right in the end (You know what I’m talking about).  I guess, what I am trying to say is that I love Alina because she is not exceptional save for her power – which she pretty much loathes for a majority of the book. She is not physically strong, she is not a badass or extremely smart – she just is. BUT, she is emotionally strong. She lives through hell and back and she just keeps on trucken. That’s strength.
“This was his soul made flesh, the truth of him laid bare in the blazing sun, shorn of mystery and shadow. This was the truth behind the handsome face and the miraculous powers, the truth that was the dead and empty space between the stars, a wasteland peopled by frightened monsters.”
The Darkling. HOLY FREAKEN CRAP. Ugh. The Darkling is so many things all at once and it hurts so badly to even think about it. The Darkling is good, The Darkling is evil, The Darkling is simply The Darkling and holy hot damn. He is terrifying, swoon worthy, and I hate to love him while loving to hate him. Or is that switched? I don’t know anymore. He is sort of the big wig, the second most powerful man in Ravka save for the king and he is the one who controls all Grisha. He is one giant enigma that will leave you breathlessly panting for more while simultaneously wanting to strangle him.
“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me why we don’t belong together,” he said fiercely.”
Mal… just, D’Awwww…. Mal is Alina’s best friend since childhood and he has slowly become even more to her than that. He is Alina’s everything. He is what she thinks about when she is gone, he is what drives her to be better – and visa versa.  He is the kind of character that grows on you, the longer you are around him the more you begin to love him. He is a special kind of character – and I love it. I think my favorite part of his character, besides the obvious, is the fact that Alina has to go through an entire emotional revolution before figuring out just how much she loves him. There is no insta love. This is a slow burning love born over years, and years, and years. It was beautiful.
“I’ve been waiting for you a long time, Alina,” he said. “You and I are going to change the world.”
Leigh Bardugo is a goddess composed of pure literary genius. The plot of this book, while holding general Young Adult undertones, is so superbly executed and full of layers upon layers of amazingness that it will blow your brain straight through your skull. The book is unique, the writing is unique, the world is so unique it might a well be a completely new standard of world building. I guess that is the point I am trying to make here, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone has just raised the bar for each and every fantasy book that follows without so much as blinking an eye. It was all so flawless and seemingly effortless, despite the fact that I know and understand just how much work goes into something as complex as this. Leigh Bardugo, thank you. Simply thank you.
Overall, Shadow and Bone is one hell of a book that deserves to be placed on every shelf in existence. This is a must read for fantasy lovers and book lovers alike. It is chalked full of action, romance, personal struggles, and an intricately beautiful plot that will haunt you for years to come. Bardugo has created a masterpiece which I have fallen helplessly in love with and I hope you will too.