After finishing Shadow and Bone (click through for review) by Leigh Bardugo, I fulfilled my own prophecy and ran out to buy the last two instalments in the Grisha series. Despite its shortcomings, the first book caught my imagination and I enjoyed it enough to want to know what happens next. I’m glad I did. I’m reviewing the second and third Grisha books together in one post because I don’t feel like splitting them up. If you want to know what I thought of Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising, then read on!
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.
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.
The review (SPOILERS INCLUDED):
Siege and Storm – 3/5 stars. ★★★☆☆
The introduction of Nikolai/Sturmhond to the series is probably my favourite element of Siege and Storm. He’s easily the most interesting character of the series (though I feel any of the Grisha could have been, given the attention and airtime). The rumours surrounding his parentage, his identity crisis as both Prince and Privateer, and his complete back story all inform a really well-rounded character that I could happily read a whole novel or two dedicated to – or narrated by? Hoo boy! That’s not to say that I wanted him to end up with Alina, because I didn’t. I just wanted more of him. But don’t we all?
Otherwise, the novel was rather anti-climactic. Sure, the battle at the start, and the capture of Rusalye, was sort of interesting. And the siege upon the Little Palace was macabre enough, if a little too short.
Towards the end, in the chapel, is when I really started to like Alina Starkov. Perhaps it should have happened earlier in the series, not two thirds of the way in, but that was when I felt her actions really made sense while looking at the grand scheme of things. There’s something about self-sacrifice by a character that makes them all the more appealing to me, when it’s not in a brooding, pitiful way, but in a logical, big-picture kind of sense. That brings us on to Ruin and Rising, of course (I love you Mal).
Ruin and Rising – 4/5 stars. ★★★★☆
Ruin and Rising is everything I wished that Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm could have been. The pace was perfect, and honestly – you can see in each chapter the improvement in writing, editing, and story. This series was years in the making and the experience gained by Bardugo is evident. Not only that, but all of the plot points, the small references, the seemingly insignificant pieces of information in instalments #1 and #2 all lead up to this. I often find the final books in a series underwhelming, but I really appreciate the culmination of all of Bardugo’s work concluding in such an accomplished way. If only I could have felt that way about the first two. Sigh.
I can’t lie, it started to get a little predictable at times, like the rest of the series. I wasn’t surprised at all by Mal’s heritage, or his importance, though his being the third amplifier blew me away completely. Perhaps that’s because I just didn’t really understand how the Small Science worked, or because Bardugo has had this up her sleeve the whole time and didn’t want to give too much away with foreshadowing. It was a great idea, and made sense once the prospect was introduced. I like that these references that may have seemed insignificant on first mention were stark enough to remember and link together when it matters. It was like a light bulb going on, making me want to read the whole series again with this new information at the forefront of my mind.
Somehow, Mal’s survival seemed a little bit like a cop-out, and the explanation that the life taken was the one Morozova had stolen using merzost felt a little convenient. But what the hey, I do love a good happy ending. Despite quite a lot of life being taken (Baghra shouldn’t have died, not at all, not in the slightest, that wasn’t necessary folks, I won’t accept it, headcanon says no), everything tied up really well. Perhaps a more gruesome ending would have seemed grittier and more climactic, but it also could have ended up feeling like a shameless shock-factor. Either way, for once with a series, I was left satisfied by the conclusion rather than craving more.
However… Bardugo is already writing a second series set in the ‘Grishaverse’, the first of which will be called Six of Crows.
Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven in this brand-book in the world of the Grisha by New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo.
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Cool. Cool cool cool.
And now for the important information:
My personal rating: Siege and Storm: 3/5. Ruin and Rising: 4/5.
Pages: 432 / 417
Publishers: Henry Holt and Co. / Indigo
Publication Date: June 4th 2013 / June 17th 2014
Follow the author on Twitter: @LBardugo
Surely by now everyone has read this series, and don’t need reviews (especially spoilery ones like this) to tell them whether or not to read it. So what did you think of Leigh Bardugo’s debut series?