Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After the major disappointment of the second novel, I had no intention of reading this one. What changed my mind? A serious case of insomnia and the fact it was already on my Kindle.

That being said this novel was, in my opinion, way better than the last if still slightly disappointing.

Recap:

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

The capital has fallen to the powerful and insane Darkling with his hoards of Shadow monsters and-well not quite “army”, more like a squad of terrified Grisha. His power continues to grow as he uses both his natural talent and a forbidden ‘false’ magic. With each horror he creates, he loses more of his humanity. In an effort to balance his growing darkness the Darkling seeks Alina, the only Sun Summoner and his declared enemy. His obsession with her grows as he seeks to find, control, and empower her.

“He leaned against the window, and the gilded frame came into sharp focus. “Do you think it would be any different with your tracker beside you? With that Lantsov pup?”
“Yes,” I said simply.
“Because you would be the strong one?”
“Because they’re better men than you.”
“You might make me a better man.”
“And you might make me a monster.”

Alina can trust few and is willing to risk fewer still. Proclaimed a saint by some and a weapon by others, loyalty comes at a high cost. She seeks to destroy the Darkling and his reign of darkness. Having already failed to kill him twice (and almost losing her own life both times) her prospects are grim. He is centuries old and ruthless. Her only hope seems to be finding an amplifier to complete her power and then use it to annihilate darkness with light. But in order to use this weapon, she risks becoming the very monster she seeks to break. With every passing day her hunger for power seems to grow even as her list of allies becomes smaller. At her side is Mal, a tracker and deserter who she has loved all her life and is willing to be whatever she needs…even if it means giving her up. Along with Mal, a series of Grisha have committed themselves to her cause. Old enemies become new allies and allies have shown themselves untrustworthy. And the closer her group gets to its goal, the more dangerous and unexpected the enemy becomes.

Everyone okay?” Mal asked.
“Never better,” said Genya shakily.
David raised his hand. “I’ve been better.”

Characters

” Yuyeh sesh. Despise your heart. Ni weh sesh. I have no heart.”

Thank goodness that the author did not continue her dematurization (its a word now) of the characters! I almost ripped my hair out from the frustration in the last book.

Nikolai, our outlaw prince, is not just the chameleon in this novel. He learns what playing with power can mean. Before he was willing to use Alina for his own ends. In this book he will learn the price of power and it will add depth to his character and caution to his rule.

Mal finally understands that Alina is better as she is. Power or no power, she shouldn’t be all dependent on him. He is more humble and at peace once he decides that his love and loyalty to her do not demand she be a helpless wait.

The power twins reiterate their loyalty toward Alina rather than the cult that proclaims her a saint. They also develop character away from each other. Separation is definitely good for them and the cause they serve.

Alina continues her inner struggle with power versus humanity. She takes responsibility for her actions and learns that the price of power is not worth the people she will leave behind.

The Darkling definitely becomes more real. We learn of his past and how the thirst for a place for Grisha has been corrupted over many lifetimes of failure. He seeks Alina because he knows that without her, he will be a tyrant no better than the humans that hunted his kind. Despite his knowledge he seems incapable of stopping his evil acts.

Overall

There was all this hype throughout the novels about this great power waiting for Alina. Baghra through Darkling through priest: everyone is convinced that she will end the Darkling and lead the people. There was this huge build and then…performance anxiety? That is what I liken the ending to: performance anxiety. I felt that the end was just not the firework finale we were led into believing.

Was it still an enjoyable read? Yes. It was easy to follow and the characters finally seemed to move forward in their emotional development. However there was more fizzle than pop for me in the conclusion of the series.

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