9 Rewarding Things about Leigh Bardugo’s “Ruin and Rising”

“Ruin and Rising”

Grishaverse Book 3; The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Book 3

by Leigh Bardugo

NIKKI’S RATING: 9 OUT OF 10

Summary: Unable to use her powers, Alina Starkov is a prisoner once again but this time to the cunning Apparat, the spiritual leader of Ravka who tends to change sides whenever it suits him. While Nikolai attempts to keep the Darkling busy focusing on him, Alina’s allies come together to help her escape. As they travel across Ravka searching for the last amplifier, Alina comes to discover that the cost may be too high. In order to stop the Darkling, Alina will have to destroy herself and kill the man she’s loved since childhood.

9 Rewarding Things about Leigh Bardugo’s Ruin and Rising

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Genya

Genya’s storyline is tragic and yet beautiful. While her looks get ruined she not only remains true to Alina and what she believes in, she eventually shows the same confidence and sassiness she had prior to her punishment, looks be damned. Genya gets all she deserves in the end, her man David, a pardon, and a leadership role.

2. LGBTQ

The Shadow and Bone Trilogy included the LGBTQ community through the characters Nadia and Tamar who were an openly lesbian couple. And I loved that in the Grishaverse this was not seen as abnormal, no one commented on it, made a fuss, and the characters weren’t trying to hide their feelings. Hopefully our world can become that accepting one day.

3. Writing

“Ruin and Rising” was written well with great pacing and was absolutely emotional. It was a hard book to put down and it was difficult to say goodbye to the characters in the end.

4. Sun Summoners

The great twist of the three amplifiers, power multiplied a thousand fold but not in one person but shared amongst many otkazat’sya. This twist was so unexpected and yet, made sense with Morozova’s story and the need for balance in the end.

5. The Darkling

Aleksander, the Darkling, another tale of tragedy. While he needed to be stopped, his end is truly sad. All he wanted was to not be alone but he always would be in his power, in his greatness, he had no equal. The Darkling was evil, he did horrible things but there was a goodness to him, a human quality of wanting to be loved, accepted, and cherished.

6. Mal & Alina

OMG! Just an emotional rollercoaster with these two! I’m so relieved that Mal and Alina ended up together in the end, I was really unsure if they would both survive. After everything they had been through with each other, they deserve their happy ending.

7. The Future

While Alina is no longer in the picture, I love that Nikolai embraces her ideas for the future of the Grisha. The leadership for the Grisha will be shared amongst representatives from each order and together they will lead the Second Army, maintaining a safe haven for the Grisha in their world.

8. Bittersweet

Overall, “Ruin and Rising” had a bittersweet ending and it was fitting. Alina and Mal both lost their “gifts”, Nikolai and Genya are forever scarred, and they all have some serious PTSD. However, they all move forward and they appreciate and embrace the happiness that they are able to find. Such is life.

9. Six of Crows

While Mal and Alina’s story has ended with their happily-ever-after, the Grishaverse continues on in Leigh Bardugo’s “Six of Crows.”


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

9 Superior Things about Leigh Bardugo’s “Siege and Storm”

“Siege and Storm”

Grishaverse Book 2; The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Book 2

by Leigh Bardugo

NIKKI’S RATING: 9 OUT OF 10

Summary: Prisoners of the Darkling, Mal and Alina are forced to hunt Morozova’s next amplifier, the legendary ice dragon Rusaly. Just when it seems that there is no hope, they are rescued by the most unlikely person and dropped into the vindictive and superficial Ravka court. As Alina tries to lead the Second Army and find a way to save them all, she is being haunted by the Darkling and comes to realize that they may not be so different after all.

9 Superior Things about Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Grishaverse

Bardugo’s greatest accomplishment as a writer is her world-building skills. There are so many tiny details about the Grishaverse that make it wholeheartedly believable and interesting. While Ravka is influenced by Imperial Russia, Fjerda appears to be influenced by the Norse, while Shu Han appears to have Asian influence. I suspect the Wandering Isle may be inspired by Ireland but I could be wrong. Regardless, as one would expect all these nations have diverse cultures and ways in which they deal with their Grisha, looking forward to learning more about each of them.

2. Grisha Magic

Another testament to Bardugo’s wonderful imagination is the lore, especially surrounding the Grisha and their magic. The idea that it is not necessarily “magic” but manipulation of natural elements and that there is a balance that must be maintained creates a unique spin on the concept.

3. Amplifiers

The amplifiers are a neat idea; the “rule” that a Grisha may only have one and that some Grisha are actual amplifiers makes things much more interesting. And then of course, there are Morozova’s amplifiers that are legendary beings, which are totally awesome and beautiful. I just wish they didn’t have to kill them, like why would you kill a legendary, mythical being, its just wrong!

4. Sturmhond

Sturmhond aka Nikolai Lantsov is a fantastic character and quite possibly my favorite. While handsome, he is incredibly intelligent, kind, cunning, and most importantly hilarious. Regardless of all the darkness, challenges, and heartache happening, Nikolai keeps his humor and positive outlook. He is the much needed comic relief!

5. Mal

The hero of our story, Mal is another beloved character of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. He is steadfast, loyal, good looking and all around good guy. While it is heartbreaking to watch his self-destructive behavior, it really shows how much Alina means to him and how much he will put himself through to do the right thing.

6. Alina

While not the most fascinating female protagonist, there is an element of darkness in Alina that makes her alluring. Her desire for more power makes her more relatable and human and really adds to her character development.

7. Connection

The connection between Alina and the Darkling is very intriguing and makes sense. They are connected through their unique powers, their drive for more power, and wanting to “save” Ravka from itself. Just as Alina learns that there is some goodness in the Darkling, there is some darkness in herself. There is no light without darkness and vice versa. It’s all about balance.

8. Emotional

“Siege and Storm” was an emotional rollercoaster for me. Bardugo can seriously pull on some heartstrings. Being the romantic, the only thing I want is for Mal and Alina to have a happily ever after and I’m getting a sick feeling that I may not get what I want.

9. Ruin and Rising

Thankfully this is not the end for Alina and Mal, the Grishaverse continues in Book 3 of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, “Ruin and Rising”

What were your favorite things about Siege and Storm?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

9 Spellbinding Things about Leigh Bardugo’s “Shadow and Bone”

“Shadow and Bone”

Grishaverse Book 1; The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Book 1

by Leigh Bardugo

NIKKI’S RATING: 9 OUT OF 10

Summary: Caught in war with no end in sight, Alina and Mal are just trying to survive as soldiers and keep their heads down. But when they enter into the Fold, things go very wrong. Alina and Mal should be dead and yet somehow they miraculously survived. Alina’s unique hidden powers saved their lives. Now the Darkling, the ruthless leader of the Second Army, wants Alina for himself and to exploit her powers for his own means.

9 Spellbinding Things about Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. World Building

Leigh Bardugo is a phenomenal world builder! There are so many wonders of the Grishaverse, my favorite being the Grisha themselves. Masters of the small science, the Grisha are broken down into three orders and then into categories of those orders depending on their specialty. So there is the order of the living and the dead, the Corporalki, with their Heartrenders and Healers. The Etherealki or Summoners that consist of Squallers who can manipulate air, Inferni who can command fire, and Tidemakers who can control water. Then there are the Materialki, the order of Fabrikators, that include the Durasts and Alkemi.

2. Russian Influence

While Bardugo’s Grishaverse is entirely fictional, Bardugo did pull inspiration for her world from our own and the nation of Ravka is deeply influenced by Imperial Russia. And the inspiration doesn’t end at just the artitecture, Bardugo uses Russian construction of plurals, Ravka’s economy and national state are similar to that of Imperial Russia with it’s mostly conscripted army and huge inequality between classes, and then the use of “kvas” as a stand-in for strong spirits.

3. The Darkling

The Darkling is incredibly intriguing and seductive. While ruthless, power-hungry, and manipulative, he also wants to protect the Grisha and do what is best for Ravka. He believes the ends justify the means regardless of how many have to die and that is what is so tragic about the Darkling, he wants to do the right thing, but he goes about it in all the wrong ways and therefore, the bad guy.

4. Humor

“Shadow and Bone” is a complex book with some very dark themes and is thankfully balanced with some very well-placed humor. The banter between the characters is often hysterical and really makes them all lovable.

5. Baghra

As mother of the Darkling, I love Baghra because she is constantly trying to save her son. As she says, “I will not let him put himself beyond redemption.” And while Baghra gave the Darkling his ambition and pride, she knows the value of life. She could have easily killed Alina to keep the Darkling from using her but instead arranges for Alina to run away.

6. The Fold

The Fold, the Unsea is terrifying and one of my favorite elements of the Darkling’s story. From his own arrogance, the Darkling created a place that his own power is useless and that is a reflection of his own dark soul.

7. Mal & Alina

I tear up every time I read Mal’s confession of love to Alina, it is so beautiful:

“‘I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I’d catch myself walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I’d seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I’d realize that you weren’t there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I’ve risked my life for you. I’ve walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I’d do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don’t tell me we don’t belong together’”

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8. Writing

Bardugo is a wonderful writer with a creative and active imagination. Pacing throughout “Shadow and Bone” was done well, character development was amazing, and overall the book was very enjoyable.

9. Siege and Storm

Thankfully the Grishaverse continues in The Shadow and Bone Trilogy Book 2: “Siege and Storm.”

What were your favorite things about “Shadow and Bone”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.