“Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.”
The story of these books – namely Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm as well as Ruin and Rising – and yours truly is one that needed quite some time to develop. I bought the first book back in 2014 on my second trip to London. I was quite intrigued by the cover and the synopsis sounded pretty good so it was one of the few that were allowed to travel back home in my luggage. Once arrived at home it found a nice and cosy place on one of my bookshelves and yeah. That was it. I didn’t care to take another look at it and lost myself in other books that fitted my preferences at this time more. But last year I finally took hold of it again and dove right into Ravka and the world of the Grisha. I raced through the first book and immediately ordered the second one to read it afterward and I was amazed. But since my concentration span is really short – not really, only when it comes to books, I swear! – I pushed in some other books and series before I finally started reading the third book and let me say – this trilogy is wonderful!
I loved the world building and wanted to visit Ravka so badly – well, certainly not the fold but well, the rest of it! It was so beautiful to read a story with a setting that was inspired by Russian culture. Can you imagine? I’m normally not quite interested in eastern cultures but this was extremely interesting and led me to look more at books covering this field. And seeing the world building Leigh has done is amazing. I love Ravka and I wished to see more of Fjerda or Shu Han. I know that the Six of Crows duology will take part in the same world so I’m hoping to see at least a little bit more. And have you seen the map? It is so beautiful and by now it seems like I now the map of the Grisha World better than I do know my home country.
And Leigh Bardugo is a fantastic writer. Her style is wonderful and comes along easy to read. It left my speechless from time to time and always wanting more. I just couldn’t get enough and she has done a great job in creating her characters. I mean – the Darkling is the MOST WONDERFUL VILLAIN I know. Which is strange since he definitely shouldn’t be loveable. He took so many lives and his actions were cruel and ruthless. Nonetheless I just couldn’t get away from him. He is extremely fascinating although he committed crimes that are in no way acceptable. But still his character makes me swoon every damn time.
What is it with me and those stupid dark-haired and sarcastic/witty/idiotic characters? I just can’t see him as the purest evil or the murderer he is. I still believe that deep down he is a broken man who suffocated in the darkness of his own power.
While living inside his darkness it seems that though me might strive for power, he also wanted the Sun Summoner to bring back light in his life. Hell yeah, I do ship Alina and the Darkling and no one will convince me otherwise. I’m certainly not blinded by everything he has done, but as you can see, I still believe in him. And that’s kind of frightening, don’t you think? The Darkling is supposed to be a monster – just like the ones he created to gain more. He is also portrayed as one but I ship him with the heroine nonetheless – even if he is supposed to be her enemy. The one she wants to destroy. If causing these feelings isn’t good writing, then I don’t know what is. Leigh Bardugo did a great job with this. But I will always hate her for the ending. No, okay. I still love her because she is a genius. But why kill the Darkling? It was probably a good decision, but I’m still not over it. My heart can’t deal with it.
Talking about the Sun Summoner beforehand, I do feel kind of ambivalent toward Alina aka Sankta Alina – I still don’t know how to deal with this title. I certainly like that she is a relatable character. She isn’t the kickass lead female – even though I adore such characters – but she is human. She has fears and sometimes struggles with the things that life throws in her way. But even if she is pushed down she will stand up and face her fears and fights for what she believes in. She has problems and is far from being perfect. And that makes her so wonderful. Her character development was steady and not too rushed and this was perfect. But as I said before – I am not totally in love with her. There were times were I just couldn’t identify myself with her and it made it hard to interact. But all in all I still appreciate her. And it was actually perfect that she lost her powers. Don’t get me wrong – she was a wonderful Sun Summoner, but for the plot it was the best decision Leigh could make as an author. She gave her power to defeat the enemy and created a whole lot of ne Sun Summoners to take her place and light up the dark. And at the end she seems fine with this fact. And while I shipped her with the Darkling – still doing this! – I would have also been happy with her choosing Nikolai.
Like, have you noticed Nikolai Lantsov aka the Too-Clever Fox aka the little puppy you want to cuddle and never let go of? I fell in love with him even when he only was known as Stormhond and it hadn’t been revealed who he really was. I just want him to be happy and everything. When he was turned into a nichevo’ya I just wanted to hurl my book against a wall. I was literally crying because of this fact. Good thing I live alone since I would not have been able to explain my tear-shed face paired with an agonised scream of NO and the aggression I felt at this point. I was incredibly happy when he was turned back even if he changed a little bit because of this unwilled experience. But I’m sure he makes a great king and if I could I would also gladly be his queen.
*cries in the corner for not getting either the Darkling or Nikolai*
Because I know that the readers are pretty ambivalent when it comes to Mal, I won’t talk much about him. Also I do not like him. I don’t fell the hate that some of the fandom seem to hold against him, but Mal simply is not my kind of characters. Sometimes I didn’t like how he behaved or the decisions he made. But that’s okay because a reader simply cannot love all the characters he or she has ever read about. Still Alina seems to be finally happy with him and I think that should count.
What also made the story great were the minor characters like Genya – who will always be my beloved princess -, David, Zoya, Adrik, Nadia, Marie, Tamar and Tolya as well as all the other people – humans and Grisha alike – that helped Alina along the way. I loved the way they supported her even if they didn’t get along all the time – looking at you, Zoya darling! I cannot find words to describe how much I loved this trilogy and how thankful I am for Leigh Bardugo writing this.