Book Review: “Ruin and Rising” by Leigh Bardugo

***Warning: This review contains spoilers. If you wish to not know what goes on throughout this book, read the synopsis and don’t read any other part of this review.***


“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.


Alina: she is our main character; she is hates that she is thrust into the middle of this war and struggles with her hunger for power. Those are the moments that scared me the most.

Mal: he is Alina’s best friend; he is also in love with her. He is the best Tracker in all of Ravka for one specific reason that is revealed later. He is actually the third amplifier. He is the one I ship with her the most.

The Darkling: he is hungry for power. He will do anything to get the power that Alina possesses. He wants her to eventually rule with him over all of Ravka. He does thinks he is doing the right thing because all he wants is for Ravka to be loved by all and for Ravka to love him. He is my favorite character throughout the entire series.

Nikolai: he is the prince who does love Alina. He is pretty cocky, strategic, but a genuinely good person. He does want to propose to Alina. At least until he is turned into a Volcra. He is saved eventually, but Alina does not marry him. He becomes King.

The Apparat: he is on this list for the sole reason that I hate this man so much. He is very manipulative and I had to take a few breaks because my hands were shaking so much with my loathing for this man. He manipulates Alina from the start and then manipulates her followers.

Secondary Characters (these will just be named): David, Genya, Misha, Harshaw, Zoya, Nadia, Tamar, Tolya, and Adrik. These are all developed really well, and I loved all of them.


So the story starts off with Alina very weak and under the Apparat’s control. She is stuck in the White Cathedral, unable to talk to anyone but the Apparat, sometimes Genya, and sometimes David. She is not allowed to see Mal (one of the many reasons that I hated this man). If she angers the Apparat, he sends her to the old, moldy archives with all of the religious crap.

She is broken out and her power returns to her. So she and many other characters set out through the tunnels and make it out. They are ambushed when they are stopped by the First Army and Nikolai saves them, bringing them to where he and many allies are, including Baghra, the Darkling’s mother who trained Alina. They train some and they are ambushed by the Darkling and his shadow creatures (I am not even going to try to pronounce that name) and one enters Nikolai, turning him into a Volcra (I was sobbing and screaming at my book, “NOT MY BABY. NOT MY BABY!!”) And since Baghra has the same power as the Darkling, she controlled the shadow creatures and made them commit suicide over a cliff (with her).

Alina, Mal, and others escape on a flying boat. Alina learned to bend light to conceal the boat, making it seem as if it were invisible. They land and make camp. Alina sees Nikolai and has a mental breakdown (a well-deserved one) and she goes back to the others. The next day they set off to find the fire bird. They make camp and then the fire bird comes after her and tries to kill her. When she nearly is thrown off a cliff, Mal grabs her wrist and power flares through her. Then they realize that Mal is the third amplifier.

So they go back to a town and find Tamar and Tolya and the rest of those that are loyal to Alina, and they tell her that the Darkling burned down her old orphanage, and they aren’t sure if the kids were there or not. So she has a mental visit with the Darkling. He tells her he has them hostage and will do anything to get her power.

She goes back and tells them what he said, and they start to hatch a plan to get the kids out and kill the Darkling. She learns how to cloak the Grisha and they stay in an empty house until they set off the next day. That night, she and Mal do the do (I was screaming, “Yes! THE SHIP IS CANON.” during that scene; please don’t judge me) and then they set off to the Darkling. They kill almost all of his Grisha. Nikolai flies in and kills a lot of his other Grisha and Alina is hit, but she distracts The Darkling and runs off. Mal finds her, forces her to stab him, but that just causes her to lose her powers and give them to all of the Grisha around them. He dies and the Darkling finds her.

She kills him because Mal was Morozova’s heir and his blood was on the blade when she stabs him in the heart. Before he dies, he asks her to say his name one last time. She does and he dies. Some healers bring Mal back to life. After that, Nikolai is healed and is back to normal. Mal and Alina slink away. Nikolai becomes King and Mal and Alina end up running the orphanage after it is rebuilt. They faked both of their deaths, of course, and attended Alina’s funeral. The Darkling was buried beside of her.

It was a happy ending.

My Thoughts:

This is a great end to one of my favorite series of all time. Everything that I wanted to happen happened. Mal and Alina were the endgame ship. Nikolai became King. The Darkling died. There was a happily ever after and I couldn’t be more pleased. Many people did not like this end. I loved it. I flew through this book, reading it in about three days. I highly recommend this series. The only thing that I have a problem with regarding this series is I have always felt that the world was developed really well, but the characters weren’t. I love this world, and I am dying to get my hands on Six of Crows so I can revisit it.

4.5/5 hearts

Love You All to Luna and Back,




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