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A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Series Review: The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

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by: Leigh Bardugo
Young Adult
Fantasy
Henry Holt and Co.


Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.


Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.


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

    

Shadow and Bone:

Wendy has been book pushing this series on me for so long, so now that I'm officially participating in Danielle's Series a Month challenge, I thought I would finally dive in! I'm so glad I did! Normally I have trouble getting started with fantasy novels, but not this one. I was hooked from page one. I don't know if it's just Bardugo's writing, the interesting premise, or what, but I devoured Shadow and Bone!

Alina was a character that I really liked seeing develop. She starts out as a mapmaker for the First Army, along with her childhood best friend Mal, who is a soldier. She isn't really anything to write home about, just an orphan girl who doesn't have a lot of confidence or feel she really belongs anywhere. She has developed more than just friends feelings towards Mal, but he doesn't really notice her. He would do anything to protect her, but is a bit oblivious to her feelings.

As Alina discovers she is Grisha, her world is completely turned upside down. The Darkling takes her away to the King's Castle, where she is to train her newfound skills and be kept protected from assassins. Alina has no idea how to make her power come about and once again, feels so useless. My heart really ached for her because even in a new place she still feels she doesn't fit. Once she finally figures out how to control her power, she really starts coming into her own. I loved seeing her become empowered and finally feeling like she mattered.

Romance wise, this book definitely has some. Not only does Alina care for Mal, but there is also the mysteriously enticing Darkling. I wasn't a fan of his, but I can definitely understand why Alina feels drawn to him. He is able to amplify her power, which makes her that much stronger. He makes her feel needed and that is what she craves most of all. To be needed, to be wanted, to be accepted.

I am a fan of childhood friends turned more, so of course I was rooting for Mal all the way. Their devotion to one another was really sweet and I liked seeing just how much they would sacrifice to protect one another. I do wish Bardugo had included Mal's letter to Alina in the story. It came as additional content in my book and I have to say I really felt more connected to him after reading that.

This book does not end with a cliffhanger, but I was ready to dive straight into book 2!

5 stars!

Siege and Storm:

You guys. This book KILLED ME. SO many feelings! This book was a bit slower than its predecessor, but I did still enjoy it. We meet some new, absolutely wonderful characters that played a huge role in this second novel.

I'm not even sure where to start for fear of spoilers. Alina is the Sun Summoner and with that comes a heck of a lot of obligations and responsibility. She loves Ravka and she doesn't want to see it destroyed by one man with an intense amount of greed and hunger for power. There are some surprising turn of events in this book. One of my favorite new characters, Sturmhond, plays a big role in Alina's story and I confess I was able to guess his identity simply by paying close attention in the previous novel. I loved his humor, his roguish, unapologetic behavior, and his dedication to Ravka as well. He plays a significant role in helping Alina see that she is the only one that can defeat the Darkling and Ravka needs her help to train the Second Army's Grisha.

This obviously causes some tension between Alina and Mal. Mal is not Grisha and is just a common soldier. However, he will do whatever it takes to protect Alina. His character definitely went through quite a bit in this book and while I felt for him, I was angry with him too. You can see him and Alina drifting apart and I couldn't help but long for the days when there wasn't so much responsibility heaped on their shoulders. He makes some mistakes and while I was especially upset over one in particular, I never questioned his loyalty to her.

Tamar and Tolya are two new additions in this book I also really enjoyed, as well as that of some of the other Grisha in the Second Army.

A lot of the book is making preparations for what's to come and training for how to defeat the Darkling. Despite that, we see just how much pressure Alina is under to succeed and how things cannot go back to being simple as they once were. She is no longer a nobody, she is Grisha, and she cannot fail.

4 stars!
 
Ruin and Rising:
 
"Beauty was your armor. Fragile stuff, all show. But what's inside you? That's steel. It's brave and unbreakable. And it doesn't need fixing."
 
Well if I had to be careful of spoilers before, I have to be even more so now! I am always nervous going in to the final book of a series because expectations are high and there's always the very real fear that things will not go the way you want them to. This book is definitely not an easy one to traverse. With any war there is loss and we really feel the effects of the previous book in this one.
 
Alina has grown so much as a character. She doesn't live in a fairy tale world, that's for sure. She, Mal, and the others have to make sacrifices for the greater good and while some of those hurt my heart, I understood them. Mal definitely redeems himself in this book after acting like a bit of a putz in the last one. He understands the way of the world and how things have to be. While it's a bittersweet resignation, I really applaud him for being Alina's constant throughout everything.
 
There are so many twists and turns in this one. Certain events set things in motion and you can't help but wonder how things would be different had they not occurred... The biggest twist of all I did NOT see coming and I actually thought it made a lot of sense and was quite fitting. Bardugo did a really excellent job of explaining the hows and whys, which I really appreciated.
 
There is so much more I want to say, but I just CAN'T! I am so glad Wendy book pushed this series on me, because it is definitely one I really loved! I really love how Bardugo began and ended all three of these books. It definitely holds special meaning and while the epilogue in this one was definitely bittersweet, it still made my heart sing.
 
4.5 stars
 

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13 comments

  1. I still haven't read this series, but I keep MEANING to. I own the first book, even. I'm so glad you loved this series. I really need to make time for it.

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    1. Oh definitely do it Quinn! I am such a fan of these books! I love how absorbed I got in the world, the characters, everything!

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  2. I only read your reviews for the first two because I want to know nothing going into Ruin & Rising (which I really need to do soon). I adore Mal and that second book broke me. So glad you enjoyed this series!

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    1. You do need to do it soon Teresa! The second book broke my heart too. I was SO sad.

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  3. I am so glad you enjoyed this series! I really need to finish it, and SOON!

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    1. I hope you do Anna! That way we can talk about it! LOL.

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  4. I'm super glad to hear that you binged and loved this series! I'm feeling like re-reading it at some point because Siege & Storm was my lower rating book when I read it, but as I was reading Ruin & Rising I realized what an awesome job Leigh had done with setting everything up, so I think now I'd rate it higher!

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    1. Oh I agree- it might have been slower, but it definitely was all pertinent info to developing the story!

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  5. I thought I was the only blogger alive who had yet to read this series - and now maybe I am LOL! I've owned a copy for ages now and seeing you binge the entire series really makes me want to FINALLY read it too :D Fantastic reviews Jessica^^ the way you described the addictive plot and characters makes me wish I could jump in right this second XD

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    1. Haha! I promise you're not Micheline! Though I definitely felt that way too! I really hope you read it though. Being a fantasy fan, I know you'll love it!

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  6. I have the first book in this series and it sounds like I NEED to start it! I just love the sound of the characters and the world. It sounds like a series I would become addicted to. Lovely reviews!

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    1. I think so too Magen! I couldn't believe how quickly I was enraptured by it! It's been a long time since I've had my interest held like that!

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  7. I own a copy of Shadow and Bone but I've been warned off the series by a number of friends - something about the ending being really disappointing? But wow I am not getting that vibe AT ALL from your reviews! It looks like you enjoyed the Grisha trilogy from start to finish, and that makes me want to give this series a try now! I hope I enjoy it as much as you did!

    Fantstic reviews, Jessica!

    Lyra @ Defiantly Deviant

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