After reading Six of Crows, I could hardly wait to get my hands on The Grisha Trilogy. I have no idea how I hadn’t come across these books before, since they’re right up my alley, and absolutely fantastic! In this series review, I’ll be providing a summary and mini-review of each of the three novels in the Trilogy, as well as my overall thoughts on the trilogy. Please note that the reviews for the sequels may contain unintentional spoilers for earlier books, as certain plot points from earlier books may be touched upon
Shadow and Bone (3.5/5)
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.
What I Liked:
- As with Six of Crows, I loved Bardugo’s writing style! I really don’t recall every coming across any overly cringe-worthy moments in the writing; instead, everything flowed nicely, was eloquently written and generally made sense.
- The Darkling. The Darkling himself is an intriguingly complex, deep character who is clearly more than meets the eye. At first I thought the Darkling was going to be the source of another cliche girl falls for the tall dark and mysterious guy, who is actually everything you could want in a man, creating the every cliche love triangle between girl, bad boy and childhood crush. However, the Darkling is actually a straight up, manipulative, evil bad ass with more hidden agendas than you can count, and he quickly flips the whole cliche story on its head. And Alina still harbors a secret attraction for him, which makes things that much more complicated. Love it!
- Building on that, the romance in Shadow and Bone was believable and poignant. It didn’t feel overly forced or rushed, but instead real and raw, which was refreshing after reading so many cliche romances.
What I Didn’t Like:
- The world building. Honestly, I just felt kind of thrust into the world of the Grisha, Ravka, and the Shadow Fold without any real introduction, and I spent half the book figuring out what the hell was going on and how everything related to each other. This greatly distracted from the plot of Shadow and Bone, and definitely resulted in some confusion.
- This was a great beginning the the Grisha Trilogy. With likable/detestable characters who inspire actual emotion in the reader, a budding and forbidden romance lingering on the edges of a grand adventure, and plenty of danger, Shadow and Bone certainly delivered, despite the lack of world building.
Siege and Storm (4/5)
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, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But 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.
What I Liked:
- Sturmhond/Nikolai. Did not see that plot twist coming whatsoever. With Prince Nikolai being mentioned so little in Shadow and Bone, I had all but forgotten about him when Sturmhond and the Darkling showed up, so I, like many readers, was pretty flabbergasted by the turn in events aboard the whaling ship. Before that, I was skeptical about there the plot of Siege and Storm was going, but afterwards I was totally engrossed in the non-stop action and intrigue of the plot.
- The Darkling. I can’t get over the fact that he’s supposed to be the primary antagonist. I love him too much; maybe perhaps because he’s so damn evil. His character is endlessly intriguing, and constantly developing and changing, it’s fabulous!
- THE ENDING OF THIS BOOK. I’ll be honest, I never expected a Second Army triumph over the Darkling, but I was still engrossed in the final battle, rooting for Alina and her band of misfit Grisha. I would have been more satisfied with a cliff-hanger finale, but the action-packed sequence at the end was more than enough!
What I Didn’t Like:
- Mal. Honestly, the poor boy ruins any love I had for him by being whiny, clingy and generally annoying in this book. Alina likes you, but she’s also the most powerful Summoner alive, and the only person who can beat the Darkling. Stop being so damn self-centered and be helpful, or something. Urgh.
- Alina and Mal’s relationship. Honestly, I’m a Darkling fan, but I’d be satisfied with Nikolai too. Mal just isn’t doing it for me, and Alina has become a much different person than she once was, so I don’t understand how Bardugo can keep pushing this relationship. It’s time to accept that Alina has grown as a person, while Mal has stagnated/suffers from poor character development, and move on to bigger and better things. Although I’ll admit the Darkling relationship is becoming more and more far-fetched by the page.
- A strong sequal to Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm definitely showed up to paly and I loved it. Having gotten to know the world better, I didn’t find that world building (or the general lack thereof) detracted from the plot of this book. As with her other novels, Bardugo’s strength lies in the strength of her character development, and the Darkling, Alina and Nikolai were on point in Siege and Storm, as were the action and adventure. The only thing that truly bothered me in this book was Mal, and Alina’s continued relationship with him which I personally felt had run it’s course and deserved a much needed break!
Ruin and Rising (3/5)
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.
What I Liked:
- The action. Of all three books, this one definitely had the most action. It may not have been as showy or in your face, but there was constantly something going on, and I was hooked right from the beginning.
- Nikolai. He was perhaps the only redeeming character in this novel, as Alina was too busy moping and being useless, Mal was being Mal, and the Darkling was noticeably absent for most of the story. Nikolai took charge, knew what he was doing, and wasn’t afraid to take risks to get what he wanted. Ruin and Rising merged Sturmhond and Nikolai perfectly, as he left behind is perfect prince demeanor for a darker, more witty role as a military leader.
What I Didn’t Like:
- The predictability of Mal’s eventual role, and his cheating death. Honestly, I saw Mal’s “big important plot contribution” coming a mile away, especially with how attracted to power Alina is. It wasn’t the great big plot twist I was hoping for. But more than that, I hate when writers suddenly create a loophole for death. Just stop it. If J.K. Rowling can kill Sirius Black, and Dobby, and Remus Lupin, and still not create a reasonable loophole to bring them back, even with the Deathly Hallows hanging around, you can let one mildly likeable main character die. If GRRM can kill off all the likeable characters and write stuff like the Red Wedding, you can let one mildly likeable main character die. Honestly people, enough with the sentiment. It’s getting intolerable.
- Bardugo put forth a solid finale to the Grisha Trilogy, however I was let down by the convenience of the finale and definitely not satisfied with Alina’s “ending”. Afer everything that has happened in this trilogy, I find it hard to believe that Alina would settle as she did, even if she was “broken”. The ending itself simply detracts from her strength as an individual, that she was happy to settle for the safe option and give up the things that changed her life for the better.However, as with the previous books, the plot was well written and the pieces fell into places logically, so despite my personal dislike of the ending, I cannot completely despise this book as Bardugo did deliver both emotionally and in regards to action!