Published: June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Company
Rating: 5 out of 5
The capital has fallen.
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.
The only way I can sum up Ruin and Rising is to say it's a book of endings. Every little scrap that has been left hanging in the two previous books is here, tied up with a bow. The last book should always be about the final vanquish but I couldn't help feeling that R&R was just a way for us to say goodbye to all our favourite characters.
Alina has been taken to the white cathedral and is at the will of the Apparat. He keeps her so far underground she's barely hanging on. The Apparat refuses her company except for Genya in the Kettle (the kitchen) every now and again. All the others from their group can see what's happening but the Apparat is gaining power (not physical) from the Sun Summoner worshippers and he thinks if he can keep Alina under his thumb he can win a better standing for himself should the Darkling take power of Ravka. Eventually the group figure out a way to escape. Alina only guesses at the last minute but they do manage to leave the white cathedral with the Apparat's begrudging acceptance.
Once on the surface the group make for the area where they can find Nikolai, who's been in hiding also. He takes them back to one of his high up hideouts where the group can let go of their traumatic few weeks and get themselves together again. Unfortunately the Darkling pays them a visit and all hell breaks loose. A much smaller group now decide their final option is to look for the third amplifier which will give Alina and fighting chance of ridding the Darkling from the lands once and for all. Only this isn't as simple as they think. They no longer have Nikolai's help because he's been turned into one of the Darklings monsters. They are really on their own this time.
The characters that stand out for me are Mal, David and Nikolai. Mal because he turned into an idiot in the last book with all his doubts and woes. He thought he wasn't good enough to be with Alina and basically wanted to leave. In this book his determination is what keeps the group of Grisha together. He is the tracker to find the firebird but he's also the glue that keeps them aligned and focussed and he isn't even a Grisha. He only knows that with his own acceptance of Alina's power he wants to be beside her whatever the cost. His dedication is true and Alina knows she's lucky to have him.
David, I always thought, was a bumbling fool in the previous books. Yes, he's gifted and extremely talented but I didn't think he had much of a personality. I also couldn't figure out why Genya stayed with him. Now he laughs and jokes. He's sarcastic and his personality pops out at the strangest of times. What he and Genya share might appear odd to others but it's a natural living thing and they suit each other so perfectly. In the end you only want the best for them and them to end their days happy.
Nikolai was the stand out for me. His mannerisms and candour were refreshing when the conversation turned a little too caustic. I was sorry for his plight in this book but you almost wanted to will him out from the Darklings magic, to become himself again because you could see he was trying. I don't think he ever loved Alina but it would have been the perfect alliance based on friendship.
This time we see the Darklings nasty side. While he might have wooed others in the two previous books he always came across as too creepy and I never liked him. Now, in R&R, he's nasty, mean and proves he's a murderer. There is nothing to like about him and I was pleased when the final battle was fought.
The end of Ruin and Rising, as I wrote earlier, concentrates heavily on leaving the characters all in their new places. I was also glad to learn the Alina and Mal finally had their happy ending and the outcome was gladdening. Neither of them wanted the life they were getting through when they had to fight to save the country from the Darkling. It brought everything to a close cleverly.
If you've yet to pick up this series I can say that the world building is extraordinary. You might, at times, love and hate the characters but their hearts are true and with a worthy opponent, a few shocks and revelations along the way, this book concludes an epic series that would be hard to match.
About the Author
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