Check out what I thought about The Grisha Trilogy (Shadow & Bone, Siege & Storm, and Ruin & Rising) by novelist Leigh Bardugo!
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.
Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.
I am probably the only person in the world who had not yet read these books. I don’t know what was wrong with me. But I do know, once I started, I was hooked. Like, obsessed hook. Like I put books two and three on hold at the same time and rushed to pick them up as soon as they arrived at the library. Like I heard songs and related them to the characters. Like I made an Alina/Darkling mix immediately after finishing Ruin & Rising (oh, yeah, and I also weeped). (And I’ve also pre-ordered Six of Crows.) (I don’t have a problem.) (You have a problem.)
So these books…
I want to start by saying I never knew I could love a prologue and epilogue so much. The Before and After sections of these books are probably my favorite parts. They read like a fairy tale. I can’t even explain the feels I feel while reading them.
And now let’s break it down book by book.
Shadow and Bone: Super cool. Alina has such an amazing arc even in book one. This isn’t one of those set-up books where nothing really happens. This book kicks you in the stomach the moment you pick it up and takes you on a ride.
Things to love: Alina’s relationship with the Darkling is so complex and messy and done so well *ohmygosh*. The Fold is crazy intriguing. So is the world-building. After I finished the books, I read something Leigh wrote where she explained why she decided to set the books in a fantastical Russia and it just made me appreciate the series so much more.
One issue I had was Alina being a rather passive character. She’s very quick witted, as are a lot of the characters, and I adore it. But I did have a hard time just reading about her reacting to things and going through the motions instead of driving the plot. But the events happening were enough to keep me hooked and like I said, I appreciated her growth. Which somehow happened even if she wasn’t driving the plot–in my opinion.
Siege and Storm: The book we meet Sturmhond!
aka my love. aka I have so many feels.
Okay but other than the delicious, adorable, perfection that is this man, we have more amazing sass and stakes being raised. I feel like this is the book that really starts to push one of the major themes of the books. The Grisha Trilogy feels different to me because it explores power and greed in a way I haven’t seen other YA books do before. This is the book that sets up the consequences–or rather takes what Shadow and Bone hinted at and makes it bigger.
Ruin & Rising: *incoherent weeping*
Even if you don’t watch or read Game of Thrones, you know it is famous for killing characters. Like major characters. It suddenly dawned on me that this might happen in Ruin & Rising. Like, I actually believed in the threat. And somehow, without any heavy handed lines like “If you think this a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention” in Game of Thrones, I just wondered who was going to make it to the end.
No spoilers. But this book gave me everything I wanted. I don’t even know how to talk about it without spoiling anything because I just want to fangirl over everything.
So I guess I’m going to talk about power and greed.
“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.” (Siege & Storm)
I actually don’t know how without giving anything away. But it’s so interesting because you have Alina and Mal who start out with no power and no greed. And you have the Darkling who is born with power and his greed grows until it basically consumes him.
Then Alina who gains power and greed and wrestles with wanting her power (and even more power), and trying to fight her greed. And Mal who *so many spoilers.* Then there’s also Stormhund who *way more spoilers.*
And by Ruin & Rising you have these characters that have evolved and finally learn the price of greed and what happens when you try to attain too much power. And I love it.
So basically, read these books because they are hilarious, amazing, and super deep. Oh and there’s a lot of hot guys and sassy girls and magic vs science and greed and power and even religion and unhealthy/abusive relationships.
This is not a real question. I REFUSE TO ANSWER.
This is basically accurate, though. Like first you’re laughing along and going “OH, THE SASS.” And then shit happens and it’s like “omg what am i going to do. PROTECT THE BABIES.”