Category Archives: magic

Ruin and Rising


ruin and rising

Ravka has been torn in two. The great Grisha army has fallen. Alina, the revered Sun Summoner, is in hiding, broken by her last encounter with the Darkling, who is now ruling Ravka from a shadow throne. Deep in the secret chamber called the White Cathedral, Alina is weaker than ever. Unable to summon her power that deep underground, she has grown frail. She was supposedly “saved” by the Apparat but soon realizes that she’s going to become a pawn in a greater game he’s playing. She knows that in order to save Ravka she will have to break free from the Apparat and her ardent worshippers. Since her last battle with the Darkling she’s become revered as Sankta Alina. Her followers trying to build an army around her. They call themselves the Soldat Sol and tattoo suns over their bodies in deference to her.

Alina does manage to break free from the Apparat and her small band of followers set out to find Morozova’s third amplifier and find Nikolai on the way. Their journey takes them through some of the most beautiful and desolate places on the boarders of Ravka straining their relationships and sanity. When they finally find the firebird it’s not exactly what they expected nor is it the third amplifier. Alina realizes this almost immediately, armed with her new knowledge of Morozova given to her by Baghra. The real third amplifier is one that she never expected. A link to Morozova that no one knew existed. The knowledge will test Alina’s courage, heart, and will to save the country she loves.

Ruin and Rising is the last novel in the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I have to say that I was a little disappointed. The parts that were good were great but the parts that weren’t as good felt so forced. This was my least favorite novel of the three. In a way it reminded me of what Stephanie Meyer did in the last Twilight book, just trying to keep her audience happy but having the opposite result. Bardugo tries to maintain relationships in this novel that maybe shouldn’t be. I felt the book would have had more power had she gone through with some of the plot twists instead of reneging on them. The final battle was a bit stilted. I didn’t feel like there was so much lost or gained. The conclusion didn’t meet the hype. The big reveal was a lackluster one, especially in regards to the Darkling. He was such a clever and fascinating tortured villain. He could have his own spin off novels. The one thing I did like about the conclusion however was the effect of the third amplifier. It reminded me of Tuck Everlasting. That perhaps the greatest gift is to lead a normal life.

Overall, I enjoyed the trilogy. I loved the Russian aspects of the novel and had a lot of fun trying to identify what period in history each character and episode was inspired by. The novels have also inspired me to look more deeply into Russian folklore, something I don’t know much about. I think that the trilogy is definitely worth a read and can’t wait to see what else Leigh Bardugo comes out with.

Siege and Storm


siege and storm

Siege and Storm is the second volume in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy. The novel picks up right where Shadow and Bone left off. Alina and Mal are on the run on the True Sea trying to figure out their next move. Unfortunately, “like calls to like.” Alina and Mal are soon captured by the Darkling and his Grisha and forced on the Darkling’s boat. The Darkling has demanded that Mal track the next of Morozova’s amplifiers, Rusalye the ancient ice dragon, to further take control of Aline and magnify her power dual fold. When things seems dire, Alina and Mal are saved by an unlikely ally, a privateer with dubious morals named Stormhond, and his Shu Han crew, Tamar and Tolya. On Sturmhond’s ship, Mal continues to track Rusalye. Determined to save Ravka from the Darkling and his desire to increase and control the Shadow Fold, Alina kills the ancient Rusalye and takes the power for her own. She now has the collar and a new fetter.

After landing, the privateer reveals his true colors, he is the youngest Prince of Ravka. His identity revealed they make their way to the Little Palace, a full circle for Alina, and plan their attack on the Darkling. Unfortunately, Alina can’t stay away from the Darkling for long. She begins to see him in her dreams and waking nightmares, lurking around every corner. The collar at her throat connecting the two.

Much of this second novel is spent trying to build up an army to fight the Darkling, as well as, Alina’s growing need to find the third mysterious amplifier of Morozova to increase her power. Alina is no longer the confused girl of the first novel, unaccustomed to her new power and trying to find her place in the Grisha world. She is now owning her powers to the point of total consumption. She knows she is the one in control and begins to act much more like a leader than a follower. She is controlling her army of Grisha and sets the rules and standards for them.

For me, some of this novel did drag a bit. Though I thought overall it was much better in ways than the first. The second novel continues to follow Alina and you see character growth from every character. There is a lot more at stake in the second novel now that Alina knows where she fits into the grand scheme of things. The ending of this novel was my absolute favorite. I loved the imagery of the fallen idol projecting her own rebirth. There will be much more loss, pain, and glory to come for Alina in Ruin and Rising. 

Stay tuned for the final novel in the Grisha Trilogy. Happy Reading!

Shadow and Bone


shadow and bone

Ravka has been divided for centuries by what is known as The Fold. The Fold is a land of nightmares and shadows with creatures called volcra, a mix in my mind between a giant raven and a vulture. The Fold was created by a man known as the Black Heretic and has since ruled the way the country is run. Set in a kind of pre-revolutionary Russian state, Shadow and Bone is the first novel in the Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.

I have to say that I liked this novel a lot. Many of the reviews I’ve seen thus far about this book and the trilogy as a whole have been either loved it or hated it. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground for these books. I really like the mix of Russian history in the novel and the folklore. I really enjoyed trying to guess what part of Russia’s history the different characters represented. There’s pre-revolutionary Russia ruled by the autocrats, here the Lanstov’s, a mix of Lenin and Stalin era Russia with the Darkling and his fanatic followers, and a Rasputin type character in the Apparat. It was amazing the way Bardugo was able to blend and mix Russian history and create this fantasy world of Ravka. Not only does she bend and morph Russian history, she takes Russian folklore and creates something new and different. The Grisha and their centuries old powers, not magic exactly but more ingrained in them as a person. They practice what is called the small science, not creating but using what is already in the world to enhance their gifts. Creating magic in this world is soul destroying.

Most of the comments I’ve seen are in regards to the protagonist Alina Starkov, the savior of Ravka. Many think she fails as a heroine but I found her flaws refreshing. She’s a convincing teenage girl, just trying to fit in with those around her. In trying to fit in, she never realizes the power that she possesses. She has a great need to belong and the relationships she forges are for life, especially her relationship with Mal. She was never trained to rule or be a hero and, refreshingly in my mind, doesn’t magically become one once she realizes she has Grisha power. She has to be groomed and trained. So many of the fantasy YA heroes and heroines just magically become so sure of themselves and their powers. I really liked watching Alina grow into her own and second guess herself. She makes mistakes, some devastating, but manages to bounce back. She looks to those around her for guidance and has the foresight to rely on others for their expertise, not just her own. This doesn’t always go well but, again, it’s nice to see a heroine be able to make mistakes and be indecisive.

Shadow and Bone does still follow the typical YA fantasy formula but has enough intrigue, especially with the layers of Russian history, to keep me reading. I can’t wait to see what the next novel in the trilogy has in store for Alina, Mal, and the Darkling.

Stay tuned for the review of Siege and Storm. Happy reading!

Mixing Up Some Magic

Mixing Up Some Magic

The next category I’ve chosen in Book Battle 2015 is a book with magic. I’ve decided on China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun. This book was recommended to me years ago and for some reason I never picked it up. I’ve decided to right that wrong and finally read it.

Un Lun Dun sounds like a mixture of Alice in Wonderland and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Two girls, the chosen one Zanna and her friend Deeba, find themselves falling through the looking glass and onto the magical streets of Un Lun Dun. Un Lun Dun is a foil of London itself and is a place where things people discard end up and are put to use. Everything that is lost and broken finds it’s way to Un Lun Dun in what the Un Lun Duners call moil. With the arrival of Zanna and her friend Deeba, Un Lun Dun sees the arrival of the hero they’ve been waiting for to end a battle that might destroy their world.

I’ve never read a book by China Mieville before and am excited to do so. I love finding new authors to include in my repertoire of books. I feel like so often I stay with the same authors or the same genre that it’s nice to find something and someone different to push me out of the nest.

Stay tuned for the review of Un Lun Dun for some magical fun! Happy reading!