On Reading… Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

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On Reading… is a feature I created to accompany my book reviews. So often reading is much more of an experience than is appropriate to be captured within a book review. That’s where this post comes in… All those snippets/spoilers/a-ha moments, all the anticipation of looking forward to a good read, and guessing at what lies in store, that’s what you will find in my On Reading… posts. It’s an observational/conversational/discussion type feature, so THERE MAY BE SPOILERS AHEAD. Please proceed with caution!

Again – what you read beyond this point you may consider spoiler-ish.  You can also read my Ruin and Rising Review (no spoilers).

I was so pleased to get my hands on Ruin and Rising.
I was really invested in the future for Alina, Mal, Nikolai and the Darkling. I’d speculated towards the end of my review for Siege and Storm about what the future would hold, and who Alina may potentially end up with. I couldn’t wait to get back to Ravka, a world with which I‘d fallen quite in love.

And what an amazing adventure it turned out to be. In my review of Ruin and Rising I covered all the ways in which the book was great, but then certain things happened, things that would totally spoil the book for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.
Inevitably my mind turned to On Reading… and I knew I would have to write more about certain events and happenings of Ruin and Rising here. So, here goes. As usual, if you proceed beyond this point, be careful to mind the SPOILERS…


My favourite pirate prince was so cruelly turned into some kind of monster of darkness abomination, so bang went my hopes of a union with Alina, a potential love match over time (or so I thought as I was reading). In those moments after Nikolai’s transformation my hopes were dashed as he sprouted fangs and wings and flew off in mortal torment. Very cruel, especially if you have no idea whether he could ever come back from that, or whether he will now be linked to the Darkling and live or die as he does. It’s a great idea, but it did hurt to read. I guess that’s the sign of an author’s job well done.

Not content with that for a heartbreaker it is later revealed that Mal is actually the last amplifier (If you listen closely you can hear the sound of my heart breaking all over again). I couldn’t believe that Alina may actually have to kill Mal in order to take the power, and it made for such an intense read, watching that scenario develop and play out. It keeps you right on the edge of your seat – will she have to do it? Will she actually go through with it? What does all this mean for her power if she doesn’t?

Baghra’s eventual demise was wonderfully dramatic but so sad at the same time, and it was a scene that will certainly stay with me for a while, it was so well written and created a great visual.

The revelation of the Darkling’s true name and identity was another key moment – I KNEW this was going to be something important. I did wonder at one stage if he would turn out to be Morozova himself, as it was always stated that he was incredibly old, so to find that he was a descendant did make sense.

And then there’s the ending.  You know, the real ending, not the scene where Alina did actually end up stabbing Mal to gain the power of the amplifiers (WHAT A MOMENT, WHAT A SCENE!).
I thought it was a really fitting conclusion to the trilogy, and was really glad that Alina and Mal could have a chance to build a life together. I loved that Alina could become anonymous, and live out her days as she chose instead of being the Sun Summoner and all that went with it.

But of course, I must end with the question that I still keep thinking about now. Did the Darkling really die?! He did, didn’t he? Or did he? He was such a good character that I would like to think it was all some great act of trickery, in a similar manner to Alina’s ‘death’, but I’m not totally convinced of this.

I really enjoyed all three Grisha books, and I think they would make brilliant movies.

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