The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
Published June 5th, 2012 by 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. (Goodreads)
Published June 4th, 2013 by Henry Holt and Co.
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. (Goodreads)
Published June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.
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. (Goodreads)
I have heard countless BookTubers, bloggers, readers, reviewers and the like rave about this trilogy. With Six of Crows recently getting so much hype, I wanted to read The Grisha Trilogy sooner rather than later. I have had the books sitting on my TBR shelf for around a year and they were tired of collecting dust, so I dove right in. Going in I knew very little. I knew it was fantasy, everyone has a crush on The Darkling, it was set in Russia, and everyone loved the trilogy (except maybe the 3rd book).
Shadow and Bone was a solid enough start to the trilogy, although if I am being honest I tend to be more forgiving with character development and world building in trilogies. Everything lacked just a bit, but as I said it was forgiven for one reason or another. The characters were only slightly developed other than the female main character, Alina. The plot really did drag by for the most part too. We’re all familiar with the trope chosen one doesn’t know they have powers, discovers them, and they have to save the world. While it was familiar I did appreciate the way it was handled and took shape in a unique and interesting way.
Up next was Siege and Storm. New characters were introduced, only one I really liked, and more of the story, world, plot was developed, but goodness it was a huge snooze. It was frustratingly slow with hardly any action at all. I still wasn’t finding the appeal of The Darkling and I was hesitant if I should continue onto the finale considering most people did not enjoy the third book. I held out hope and moved on to Ruin and Rising.
For the first 106 pages (yes, I know the exact page number) I was again completely bored. The plot was moving at a snail’s pace and I was just over the whole thing. I wasn’t understanding the appeal of The Darkling, I wanted to slap some sense into Alina and make her chose the right man, and I still had zero world in my head as I was reading. Lucky for me from there it completely picked up and from then on it was non-stop action/adventure. The story finally started coming together in an interesting way. I still got some of the side characters confused, but every chapter was a mini cliff hanger and I was constantly turning the pages as I sat on the edge of my seat to find out what would happen next. I laughed, I cried and felt so many feels. What a roller coaster! When all was said and done I actually loved Ruin and Rising the best.
I never did understand the appeal of The Darkling but maybe I wasn’t supposed to. The 2 other male leads Mal and the prince were 2 of my favorites of the trilogy. Mal reminded me so much of Gale from The Hunger Games. He was Alina’s childhood friend, support system, confidante, and was there for her through so much crap. The prince reminded me of Capt. Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles. He was sassy, funny, and just a tad full of himself in the most endearing way possible.
I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have still loved and cared about the ending as much as I did if I hadn’t read the first 2 books. Probably not and we’ll never know really but it definitely had me thinking. I’d still like to find out why people love The Darkling so much and how the world building was so fantastic for them.