Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo


Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Release date: June 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 080509461X
Pages: 422
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Ruin and Rising is the third book in the Grisha trilogy, which means that this review will contain some spoilers for Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm. Proceed at your own risk.


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.


45 stars

For me, Ruin and Rising is by far the best book in the Grisha trilogy. I thought there was a clear improvement in almost all aspects of the book when compared to the previous two books. Also the epilogue of this book is probably the most satisfying ending to a book that I’ve read in a while.

First of all, I was very happy to see more action and plot in this final instalment (it had to happen eventually right?). My problem with Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm was the lack of plot. There was great action at the beginning and end of the book, but nothing in between to fill it up. Ruin and Rising was definitely a step up. The pace of it was much more consistent and we got thrilling scenes throughout the book. I thought that Leigh Bardugo did a much better job at filling in the blanks in this last novel.

I enjoyed most of the plot points in Ruin and Rising. I didn’t find anything to be predictable and I was actually quite shocked at a lot of the twists. There were a couple of things that I thought were a bit weird and not completely necessary to the overall plot of the book. Nikolai goes through a bit of a transformation in this book, and I didn’t understand the point of it. I would have much preferred to see him as his usual funny, smart-mouthed self… and I would have liked it if we had seen a lot more of him. I also didn’t completely enjoy the plot surrounding the third amplifier, though I did like the surprise and shock I felt when I got to that part. The events that followed were just a little bit strange to me.

I thought that the book was resolved quite well but I was still left with some small unanswered questions. I finished Ruin and Rising feeling a bit confused about the role of the Apparat in the trilogy. I didn’t understand his purpose and his actions, and I don’t think that was addressed at the end of this book. I didn’t understand his obsession with religion and Saints, and I was just kind of baffled about his existence. But other than that, I was pretty satisfied with how the trilogy was wrapped up.

My favourite aspect of this book were the characters. We definitely get to see a lot more of the side characters in this book and I was thrilled with how much screen time (page time?) they received. My favourite characters were David and Genya, and I’m so happy with the development in their characters and how they grew together. What I loved most about being able to see more of the side characters, was the deeper exploration of the Grisha powers and what is achievable. I liked being able to see more of the Summoners and what they’re able to do.

However, I did have a little bit of a problem with Alina’s powers, and this has been a recurring problem for me throughout the trilogy. I dislike the fact that new abilities just come to Alina without her having to do anything. We do see a tiny bit of training towards the end of this book, but for the most part, she’s able to just do things on the first try. I also don’t really see her trying to push herself and stretch her limits (besides that one bit of training). She relies on the amplifiers to strengthen her abilities and I had a bit of a problem with that. I just wanted to see more growth in her.

I was satisfied with Alina’s overall character growth though. She was much more comfortable in her own skin, and her assertiveness no longer felt out-of-character. I enjoyed her strength and found her to be pretty likeable in this book. However, I still found her to be a bit too bland of a protagonist, and she was overshadowed by the side characters. Unlike most readers, I liked her relationship with Mal and I really liked their scenes together. Mal kind of rubbed me the wrong way at the end of Siege and Storm, but I liked who he was in Ruin and Rising. He still felt a little bit ordinary but I liked that he was noble and caring. The Darkling also had some great moments, but I wanted to see even more of him! We got such great scenes that really showcased how dynamic and complex of a character he is, but his character development was still a little bit lacking.

Overall, I really enjoyed the reading experience and thought Ruin and Rising was a fantastic ending to the trilogy. This final book could definitely have been a lot more epic, if the previous two books had been better developed, but I’m satisfied with what we got. I also liked that each book in the trilogy was better than the previous one, so I’m super excited to see what Six of Crows brings.


13 thoughts on “Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

  1. Aila @ One Way Or An Author says:

    Everything was definitely amplified (see what I did there) in this conclusion! I loved the Mal/Alina/Darkling interactions, although I have to say that the backstory regarding certain characters’ ancestors was super surprising and out there. Not saying it wasn’t not good though, I just wasn’t expecting it. Also everyone loved the Darkling but I thought he was a typical villain, if only with an extra dimension because of his past and the feelings he brought out in Alina. Soooo what happened to him in the end didn’t really affect me much. 😛
    I’m pretty sure Bardugo is definitely revisiting Nikolai’s character in future books, so we’ll see what she has in mind for him! (Seriously though, this boy deserves his own book and everything.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      I totally get what you’re saying about the Darkling. I thought he was really interesting in Shadow and Bone but then his character was never developed in the other two books and he just became a standard villain. There were some interesting Aleksander moments in this book but it wasn’t anything wow. And I’m so sad that there was barely any Nikolai in this book.. and what happened to him was so crazy and wtf that I was kind of over it. I mean, what was the point of that?! I’m going to start Six of Crows soon and I’m hoping there’ll be some mention of him?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kynndra-jo - says:

    I have yet to read this series – been debating it for while now. But I think I will take the plunge sooner or later. One thing I like to check out before I read the series is to see if people enjoy all the books. So I’m happy to see you enjoyed and rated this one so high. Lovely review! c:

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pagesandpineapples says:

    That epilogue! I finished this book about an hour ago, and I’m still basking in the feels.

    You’re right about the Apparat – the build-up to his character made it seem like he was going to play a much bigger political/social/meddling role, but he got sidelined pretty early on in the story.

    I would have liked to see a bigger role for Nikolai too! I rather liked him, and wished there was more of him as Sturmhond. I’m weirdly fascinated by political marriages in history, so early on I was really rooting for Alina to marry Nikolai (even though he’s not the most romantic option). Though, of course, this would have made it an entirely different book. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      That epilogue killed me! It was so perfect!! ❤ The Apparat was a bit of a nothing character. I didn't understand his role in the trilogy at all. From the first book, I thought he'd have a much larger role but he was kind of disappointing. And Nikolai's character was a bit of a waste. He had so much potential and he was pretty much everyone's favourite character… I would've liked to have seen a lot more of him! And I wouldn't have minded a Alina and Nikolai marriage either 😀


  4. Summer @ Xingsings says:

    I so agree with how this was a pretty action filled book. Not so much like a filler like S&S or weird paced book like S&B. I also agree that Mal was more like his sweet self in this book. He was too inconsistent across the books for me though. 😛 And I think I gave R&R the lowest rating in the trilogy just because I was pretty confused (I had a lot of unanswered questions too) and everything was tied up a little too neatly for me. However, I still loved the David/Genya scenes too. Great reviews for the series, Jenna! Do you plan to read the novellas? I’ve heard the Darkling ones are brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna @ Reading with Jenna says:

      Oh crap, I didn’t know there were novellas… But yes, I will read them (once I figure out what they are!) I’m totally prepared to fall in love with the Darkling some more since I thought his character lacked a lot of development that could have made me LOVE him. I’m most sad about how little a part Nikolai got in this whole book. It was a waste of a great character T_T

      Liked by 1 person

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