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Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone #3)
Leigh Bardugo
Henry Holt & Company
Published June 17, 2014

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About Ruin and Rising

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.

My Review

It took me a really long time to read this series, which is odd, because I LOVED Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Once I got into the first book, Shadow and Bone, I had no trouble reading all the way through. I loved the story world and the inspiration from czarist Russia. I loved the magic and the struggle for and against power that would allow Alina to defeat the Darkling but also possibly lose her soul in the process of acquiring that power.

Through the whole series, I had kind of mixed feelings about Mal and Alina. I like them individually more than I liked them together, I think. Which is weird, I guess? Maybe I just liked Nikolai (the outlaw prince) more than Mal? I mean, I did like him more than Mal, but I’m not sure that was why the romance sat oddly with me.

I liked the plot of RUIN AND RISING, and especially the way things built up to the climax of the story. The final battle had that no holds barred, everything we’ve got, completely desperate, so weird it just might work sense to it that really drew me in. I loved every minute of it, even all the heartbreaking ones.

All in all, I feel like this was a fierce conclusion to a great story. I’m both sorry that I read SIX OF CROWS first rather than this series, but also glad I read them in this order so that I can jump straight into KING OF SCARS and get more of Nikolai’s journey. I’m definitely going to read that as soon as I can!

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

The story setting is inspired by tsarist Russia. There’s a great interview with Leigh Bardugo about this in the Atlantic. Two minor female characters are in a romantic relationship.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
A couple instances of mild profanity.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl, references to sex. Kissing between two girls.

Spiritual Content
Some characters have supernatural abilities referred to as small science. These can be things like gathering light or darkness or causing someone’s heart to explode without touching them.

Violent Content
Some battle violence and situations of peril. References to torture. Some brief, graphic descriptions of battle. The Darkling controls monsters made of darkness that can only be killed by Alina’s abilities. Two people are stabbed in the heart.

Drug Content
Some social drinking.

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