Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

ruin and risingTitle: Ruin and Rising

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 422, Hardcover

Publication: June 17, 2014

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.

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So, it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve read the second book in the series, Siege and Storm. Despite reading through a few summaries, I didn’t really remember all that much about the books. However, as soon as I opened Ruin and Rising, I fell into the familiar rhythm of Bardugo’s writing and the complexity of her characters.

Writing this review, my heart hurts because the entire book was so bittersweet. It was filled with loss and heartbreak, but managed to end on a hopeful note. Leigh Bardugo understands the human condition and knows how to write it.

I fell in love with Alina, Mal, Nikolai, and The Darkling all over again. God, I don’t think I can emphasize enough how great her characters are! Despite this book obviously being fantasy, the characters were entirely rooted in reality.

The ending, however, caught me a little off guard. I guess I didn’t really know what I was expecting. But it was definitely not what I wanted. I docked off a half point because of this reason. Despite the story wrapping up in a well-written and truthful way, I found myself disappointed. I honestly have no idea why. Perhaps it was the fact that the ending was so gritty and real, kind of like the ending to Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

Actually, I feel almost exactly like how I felt after finishing Allegiant. Except a shit ton more satisfied.

I’m actually struggling to find words to exactly describe how I felt after I finished the book.

Maybe I was disappointed in the fact that the relationships in this book didn’t go the way that I wanted them to go. After finishing the first two books in the series, I thought that Mal and Alina ending up together seemed impossible. I even felt this while reading this book. So many obstacles were in their way. Alina and The Darkling had such a deep connection despite his many, many flaws. Same with Alina and Nikolai. While reading this series, I felt like those two characters held and showed more love for Alina than Mal did.

I’m usually able to tell right off the bat who the main protagonist will end up with, and this time I didn’t.

(I know that shipping isn’t something to judge a book on, but I’m just drawn to talking about it.)

It feels so weird to be done with this series. I feel heartbroken, yet satisfied. Leigh Bardugo is such an eloquent writer, and I can’t wait to read her Six of Crows series.

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