Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Published by Audible, Inc., Henry Holt and Co. on 17 June 2014
Length: 11 hours
Source: Purchased through Audible
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.
Thoughts: I loved Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising has been one of my most anticipated titles of the year. It did not disappoint. Everything that I love about the first two books is there, but somehow, I think, Ruin and Rising is even better. I will mark major spoilers, but if you are particularly spoiler-averse, than feel free to skip to the comments.
Characters are always hugely important to me when reading. I’ve loved the characters in the Grisha trilogy, and in Ruin and Rising, the relationships get even more complicated, but feel real. Alina has been courted by The Darkling, Prince Nikolai, and the first boy she ever loved, Mal. Ruin and Rising really explore what it means to have a relationship. As noble as it might seem, love isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. For me, this exploration was perfect (and I commented on something similar in my review of Siege and Storm).
When I finished Siege and Storm, I had decided that I hated The Darkling because of what he had done to Genya. I had been devastated by seeing her destroyed in a way that touched who she was as a person. But Genya grows so much in Ruin and Rising. She isn’t ruined, she is ruination. She is strong and beautiful and I think it is really important for characters like her to exist outside of “issue books”.
As for The Darkling, Bardugo does something I didn’t think would be possible. She humanizes him. She does this in a way that doesn’t belittle the cruelty and terror he has enacted throughout his long life, but in a way that allows each of us to see within him our own potential for evil. This also allowed her to drive home a major theme of the book: strength often looks like weakness. View Spoiler » The Darkling is powerful and Alina has spent the last two books trying to build up enough power to face him, but when it comes down to it, it is not matching his power that defeats him, but Alina losing everything and still choosing to fight. Choice, bravery, being extraordinary even when others think you are nothing. These are the things Ruin and Rising is about. « Hide Spoiler
As for the plot, I was on the edge of my seat. I was listening to the audiobook and it took me less than 24 hours to finish. The only other thing I did in that time period was sleep and go to work for 3 hours. What I love about all the books in this triliogy is that they go places I don’t expect. The worst possible thing happens at every turn until you can’t imagine how the characters will ever survive, let alone win the fight. There is one major reveal at the end. I first suspected this during Siege and Storm, but I thought the reveal would play out differently. Bardugo made a hard choice with what the reveal meant for her characters and her story is better for it. It comes together perfectly in a way that doesn’t feel contrived, but also feels like the only possible way for the story to end.
Favorite moment: Ruin and Rising doesn’t have a lot of happy moments in it, but no matter how bad things get, the story is filled with witty banter, laughter, and friendship. Ultimately, the end was my favorite part because my heart could rest easy. I finished feeling the need for a comforting cup of coffee and a special someone to whisper secrets to.
WTF moments: There are so, so many in this book. I could pick View Spoiler » The Darkling burning to the ground the orphanage where Alina grew up and then killing all of the adults who worked there « Hide Spoiler or View Spoiler » Prince Nikolai being turned into a monster by The Darkling « Hide Spoiler or View Spoiler » when Genya is brought before the King to account for her treasonous poisoning of him in the previous book « Hide Spoiler but let’s go with View Spoiler » Baghra’s true account of the martyrdom of St. Ilya. « Hide Spoiler
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang is fantastic and I am so glad that she has narrated the entire Grisha Trilogy. She does a fantastic job of bringing across all of Alina’s emotions: fear, anger, dread, hope, love. I couldn’t imagine these books without her narration.
Overall: This is probably the best conclusion to a trilogy that I’ve read in a long time. I was worried about writing that last sentence, but as Nikolai would say, it’s not overselling if you deliver. Ruin & Rising delivers.