by Zöe de Lellis, contributing writer
The epic finale in the New York Times-bestselling Grisha Trilogy, Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo is out today! This highly anticipated novel is set in a high fantasy, Russian-inspired world Bardugo calls “tsarpunk.” The plot follows a young girl and boy, Alina Starkov and Malyen Oretsev, in their travels of the fictional world of Ravka.
In the first two books, Shadow and Bone (2012) and Siege and Storm (2013) Alina discovers that she has the power to summon and control light. In Bardugo’s world, there are people called the Grisha, who can control matter and energy at the smallest level (she calls this the Small Science). In some places the Grisha are treated badly, even killed. But in Ravka, they comprise a unit of the military, commanded by the Darkling, a powerful Grisha with the power to summon and control darkness.
The Darkling is mad, obsessed with power, and brilliant. He manipulates Alina and all those around her, but it seems that Alina and the Darkling are two sides of the same coin. Ruin and Rising finds Alina and company searching for an amplifier, the bones of a rare animal that, when killed by a Grisha, allows the Grisha’s power to grow stronger. Both Alina and the Darkling race to find the amplifier, and what they discover along the way could change the world forever.
I found the world-building in Bardugo’s story to be fascinating. Along with her world, she created a language with the help of David Peterson of conlag.com. Peterson created the Dothraki language for the TV adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire series. The result is an impressive mix of imagination and Russian language.
Bardugo’s characters are so complex. There are times when I found myself loving a character one minute, and hating them the next. She creates characters that are very human; they err, they love, they are passionate, they are fickle, and that makes relating to the story very easy, even though it is set in a fictional, fantasy world.
Ruin and Rising kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Even though the first two books arguably had more action and this third installment focused a lot on travel and journey, there were still plenty of heart-racing action scenes. I recommend this series for anyone who is a fan of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.
Ruin and Rising is published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC and is widely available as of June 17, 2014.