The Darkling

All posts tagged The Darkling

Ruin And Rising (The Grisha #3) – Leigh Bardugo

Published June 9, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

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 did I think?:

Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series has been without a doubt my favourite YA/fantasy series to read with each book leaving me increasingly captivated and more in love with the characters and the world of Ravka that she created. The series begins with Shadow and Bone, continues with Siege and Storm and finishes (sniffle) with Ruin and Rising. I am aware that some people reading this may not have got to the third book or have started the series yet (where have you been?!) so I’ll try and keep this review spoiler free.

As the novel begins our heroine Alina is trapped underground with her loyal band of followers including the Apparat whom she’s not sure she can entirely trust. He manages to convince her to put her faith in him and continues to preach and boast of her powers to those that worship her as their saint. However, the events of the last book have left Alina greatly weakened and she is not sure whether she has the emotional or physical strength/capabilities to be their Sun Summoner once again and do battle with The Darkling.

During her recuperation, Alina has discovered that she has a mysterious connection to The Darkling but she cannot quite fathom how or why this has come about. Their encounters are filled with passion and anger and only serve to weaken Alina more. As a result, she becomes more determined to unlock his secrets and attempt to find the elusive last amplifier, known as the firebird. She manages to persuade the Apparat to leave the underground tunnels and caverns that are all too familiar to her and have become somewhat claustrophobic after many weeks of confinement. The race is now on – find the firebird, defeat The Darkling, restore the throne of Ravka to the correct ruler and finally bring peace upon the war-ravaged lands. Things are never that simple unfortunately and Alina must use all her inner strength and call on every loyalty available to her if she is to face the dark days ahead.

Like the other two books in this trilogy, Ruin and Rising is absolutely unputdownable. It never fails to amaze me that a world so intricate and beautiful as Ravka was born out of imagination and what an imagination this author has! The words seem to roll together so effortlessly that it can make you completely lose track of time as you feel more invested in this story and the characters that inhabit it. I’ve already mentioned that The Darkling is one of my favourite characters in this series but now on finishing it I’ve come to realise that he is now one of my favourite fictional characters ever. Just the right amount of intrigue, mystery, magic, power and evil and then to top it all off the author makes you feel a bit sorry for him = character that has gotten under my skin. The plot has more twists in it than a Slinky and I loved not knowing what was going to happen next. It was exciting, nerve-wracking, jam packed with suspense and so wonderfully sad all at the same time and I finished it a bit bereft having thoroughly enjoyed spending time in her world. Although I have heard that the author is writing a two book series which will be based in the same world, Ravka but involve different characters – how exciting!

Finally, I just want to mention the ending as I’ve noticed a lot of negative reviews on Good Reads and they appear to be from people that are giving it one/two stars because things didn’t go the way they personally wanted for their favourite characters. Sorry, being deliberately vague here! I can’t really understand this way of thinking as I’ve been devastated by an ending to a book before but have appreciated that this is the way the author chose to end it (it’s her story right?) and I can still admit that it was a great book worthy of three stars or greater. Anyway, if you haven’t finished the series yet, please do and let me know what you think, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you haven’t started the series, what are you still reading this review for? Go and start it immediately! I’ve given all three books in the series five stars which I’ve never done before, it’s definitely something a bit special.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Siege And Storm (The Grisha #2) – Leigh Bardugo

Published August 20, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

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. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. 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 did I think?:

My sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads introduced me to this series and it was a last minute addition to Chrissi Cupboard Month back in June as I enjoyed the first one so much earlier in the month. When we catch up with our main character Alina, she is on the run with Mal desperately trying to evade the clutches of the mysterious Darkling by trying to remain in disguise and under cover as much as possible. However, things don’t go exactly to plan and worse of all the Darkling has returned with a new ancient and highly destructive power which allows him to create shadow creatures that become his dark warriors. They are a considerable threat to Alina’s new power (which is also making her slightly power hungry) and she can see no choice but to find another amplifier so that she may have a real chance of defeating the Darkling.

Enter stage right the next intriguing character, Sturmhond who captains the ship sent to retrieve Alina and Mal and bring them to the Darkling. Sturmhond however doesn’t really take to being ordered around and has his own hidden agenda. Please note, he is definitely not what he seems in more ways than one. I absolutely loved this character and thought it was a solid addition to our line-up. But guess what? Mal is not as enamoured by him as others and it is not for the first time that Alina and Mal’s relationship may be teetering on the brink of failing. I didn’t get on too well with “jealous” Mal in this sequel, although it is obvious that a lot of barriers are put in their way that may be too strong to overcome. This is especially true when Alina is put in command of the Grisha soldiers that are on the “good” side, widening the gap between them further still as Mal is drafted into a more lowly position.

Alina is fully committed to saving her country Ravka against the evil forces of the Darkling, perhaps in part due to the responsibility she feels for a number of deaths in the Shadow Fold previously. The worry is that she will not be able to find and exploit the Darkling’s weak spot and to make things slightly hairier she is having vivid dreams where the Darkling is appearing to her, almost if he was controlling her mind. She feels she cannot confide in Mal about this and this only serves to widen the gap that is slowly forming between the pair as he becomes more distant and she works on strengthening her powers.

I enjoyed this second offering from Leigh Bardugo as much if not more than the debut, although I must say that Sturmhond really made the story stand out.  His wit and banter with Alina is fun to read and he is quick to goad and wind up poor Mal who ends up in a very dark place in this novel. There are a few questions that come out of it as we reach the finale – who can Alina trust? Can she defeat the Darkling? Who is Sturmhond really? And finally, when is Mal going to snap out of it and stop sulking?! Once again, the author creates a beautiful and imaginative world with a strong cast of characters that leave plenty of wiggle room for further development. I loved every moment of it and can’t wait to read the final instalment: Ruin and Rising, although in part I don’t want it to be over so I may stall for a while. Leigh Bardugo is a huge talent that mixes the perfect blend of fantasy and adventure to create a memorable and exciting series.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Shadow And Bone (The Grisha #1) – Leigh Bardugo

Published June 26, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

What did I think?:

The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo has been on my radar to read for quite a while ever since I gave this book as a gift to my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads. I was very happy when she read it and not only enjoyed it but raved about it, so much that she has now completed the trilogy of books – in probably the quickest time I have seen her complete a series. Therefore it was obvious to both of us that it would make the June 2014 Chrissi Cupboard list, and I can honestly confirm that her love for this book is entirely justified! The story follows an orphan called Alina Starkov who grows up alongside her best friend Mal in the kingdom of Ravka, based on our modern Russia. Ravka can be a bit of a scary place, one place in particular known as The Shadow Folds, full of darkness and housing frightening flesh-eating creatures called volcra, and unfortunately not many of the adventurers who travel through its murky depths live to tell the tale. Alina ends up employed as a mapmaker for the First Army regiment along with Mal who works as tracker, and during their first perilous mission across The Shadow Folds, we learn a bit more about the groups of people in this strange world. We have the First Army and the peasants who scrape by (the so-called “normals” in this novel), then we have the elite living under the King of Ravka and finally the mysterious and enigmatic Darkling who works for the King but is a bit of a law unto himself. He has his own private army of Grishas split up into the categories of Corporalki, Etherealki and Materialki, each of which has a specific power or gift and is identified by a colour to denote their order.

So, back to the mission and during an encounter with the terrifying volcra, we discover that Alina has a power of her own which she had not known to up to this point. She can harness the powers of sunlight which manages to drive away the volcra and makes her incredibly attractive to people who want to traverse The Shadow Folds and instant Grisha material of course. This is especially true for The Darkling, who has been attempting to seize control of these lands in the name of the King for a long while. He seizes the opportunity to offer Alina a home in the palace in Ravka, and means by which she can train and learn to use her power. But who is The Darkling really? Why is Alina of so much interest to him? Also, what about Alina’s childhood friend Mal? Now Alina is a Grisha and lives a life of luxury at the palace has the divide between them got too large to be repaired? Finally, can a world that has been ravaged by war and the perils of magic really have a chance of peace?

This is a fantastic debut novel for any author to write, but there’s something really special about the beginning of this series. We have a wonderful dystopian world built up with so much imagination and passion and I was held spellbound by each new element that appeared. I loved all the characters that the author has created but I have to admit I’m holding a bit of a soft spot for The Darkling as I don’t think I’ve read a character before that I’ve been so intrigued by. The twists and the turns in this plot just kept on coming and I was constantly on the edge of my seat, awaiting the next “gasp out loud” moment that I knew was imminent! Action-packed and exciting, one thing you could never call this book is tedious or boring, and now I’m just picking the right spot in my reading schedule to fit in the second novel – Siege And Storm. I know it has to be soon, I just can’t wait that long to see how the story will continue and knowing Chrissi has given the second book five stars also makes it a pretty good bet that I’m going to love it.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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