Rise and Ruin
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Shadow and Bone Trilogy, #3
Page Count: 369
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Original Publication Date: 2014
Genre(s): Young adult, Fantasy
The Darkling rules Ravka with fear and shadows. The Sun Summoner, Alina, is nowhere to be found. She’s been taken underground by the Apparat and her devout followers. But sunlight doesn’t reach that far beneath the surface, and though Alina heals slowly from her showdown with the Darkling, she still feels weak without being able to call to her power. She plans to escape and hopefully find Nikolai. Together, she believes they can stop the Darkling once and for all, destroy the Fold, and unite Ravka. But the Darkling isn’t going down without a brutal fight, and so she must find the Firebird and secure the third amplifier — no matter the cost.
I can’t believe I read this trilogy in less than a week. It totally captivated me, even the slow bits. I devoured book 1, slowed down a bit in book 2, and I’d say book 3 is somewhere in between those speeds. As a series finale, I expected just a liiiiiitle bit more in terms of the final battle and the Mal/Alina dynamic. But overall, it was a solid conclusion to a really great series.
We follow Alina and her friends one last time into the Fold and against the Darkling. Just like in book 2, Ruin and Rising has a lot of preparation moments: preparation to escape from underground, preparation to find the Firebird, preparation to defeat the Darkling… Those moments are always a bit too slow. But there’s plenty of action dispersed throughout, and lots of deaths, so prepare your heart. I liked that I could genuinely worry about certain characters, because I wasn’t sure if they’d be killed or not. Sometimes you read a YA book and you just know characters won’t be killed. Or they’ll be killed and brought back. But there are writers out there who really do kill off their characters, so you feel worried until the very end. I love those books, and this is one of them. I wasn’t sure how the story was going to end, and I liked feeling that way.
A couple things. Regarding the Mal/Alina dynamic (no spoilers, I promise), I will say that the ending made sense. It really couldn’t have ended any other way and made sense. Though I would have preferred a different end to their story, I still enjoyed the way Bardugo wrote it. A very fitting ending for them. Regarding the Darkling and what became of him at the end of this series (again, no spoilers), I am kind of disappointed. I felt he deserved more than what he got. Honestly I wish we could have gotten his POV throughout this whole series. I know, I know — he’s a villain, and a pretty ruthless one at that. But he has a compelling backstory and I just felt like there was more to him and his story than that we got. I would have been much more satisfied with a different type of ending for him. Maybe I’m just crazy.
Overall, I really liked the final book in this trilogy. Maybe not as much as the first book, but definitely more than the second book (which is how trilogies usually go for me). As for the series as a whole, I I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would have, especially the first book. I was captivated by the world, intrigued by the characters, and got lost in the writing and the story. Watching this universe unfold in the Netflix series is going to be incredible. This is definitely a story that will work well visually. I can’t wait to read Six of Crows next. If you love magical YA fantasies and somehow (like me before this week) haven’t read this series yet, you need to.