“Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.”
Os Alta has fallen, and the Darkling rules Ravka. The Lantsovs have fled, and Alina is trapped underground in the hands of the Apparat and his zealots, unsure if Prince Nikolai is even alive. The only hope is for her and Mal to find the firebird, and finally unite all three of Morozova’s amplifiers so that she will have enough power to defeat the Darkling. But the Apparat is determined to keep her safe in the White Cathedral until he decides it is time to act. With the Second Army broken, and Alina’s allies scattered, the final amplifier is their only hope. But claiming its power will come at a terrible cost.
Ruin and Rising brings Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy to a stunning conclusion. Over the last couple months, I have been listening to the Grisha series on audio in my car, excellently performed by Lauren Fortgang. More than once I have found myself sitting in the parking lot at my destination, unable to turn off the book until I could find out what happened next. The action is fast-faced and Bardugo’s world-building is excellent. Add in charismatic characters like Nikolai and Genya, and grouchy-yet-endearing personages such as Baghra and Zoya, and this series has had me hooked from the get-go.
One of my favourite characters throughout the series has been Baghra, the grumpy old Grisha teacher who helps Alina break through her block in Shadow and Bone, and is eventually revealed to be the Darkling’s mother. David and Alina have been pouring over Morozova’s journals, but Baghra seems to know more than she is telling, even as she warns Alina against tampering with Merzost, the power of creation. A supporting character to this point, Baghra’s own intriguing history is revealed.
I also very much enjoyed following Genya’s character arc. After being brutally attacked by the Nichevo’ya as punishment for her betrayal of the Darkling, Genya is stripped of the beauty that largely defined her character in the early installments of the series. As a Tailor, Genya begins the series as the lowest of the Grisha, a mere servant to the King and Queen of Ravka, and a spy for the Darkling. By the end, we have seen her grow into a determined and independent character, once she is able to get out from under the thumb of the Darkling and the Lantsovs.
The epilogues of YA series tend to be a bit hit and miss for me, and Ruin and Rising was no exception. I bought who Alina ended up with, but not where they ended up. But no doubt folks on the other Alina ships were even more disappointed, so I suppose I can suspend a bit of disbelief about the risks of her final destination given the events of Ruin and Rising. Even considering this small disappointment with the ending, the Grisha trilogy has still been one of my most enjoyable reading experiences of 2016.