Ruin and Rising (Shadow and Bone, #3)
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.
Author: Leigh Bardugo
“Suffering is cheap as clay and twice as common. What matters is what each man makes of it.”
This was the conclusion I knew would be excellent, the reason I read the first two books. This one flew by faster than the first or the second did; I read it in less than 36 hours.
“Are we not all things?”
***spoilers for books 1 and 2***
In this finale, the way forward for Alina is clear (ish). She must find the firebird so she can defeat the darkling, even if it costs her. But like everyone who says they'll pay the price before they know what the price will be, she's in for a world of heartbreak.
Will it be Mal, the Darkling, or Nikolai? All three of them have something to offer her soul, or at least the soul that began with her powers. But what about before that?
“He watches her the way Harshaw watches fire. Like he’ll never have enough of her. Like he’s trying to capture what he can before she’s gone.”
I know that there are a lot of people in the fandom who hate Mal, but I honestly just can't understand. How can your heart not throb for him? Yes, he messes up (maybe quite a bit), but Alina isn't miss perfect girlfriend either, people! Nikolai is nice enough but wants her for her status, and the Darkling??? Are you serious?!? He is so evil! Yes, he's the equal to her power, and he understands the parts of her that result from being ultra-powerful, but he's not the equal to her heart. He doesn't understand who she is at her core—who she was before her power. He has tortured and used her way too many times to count. How can you ever come back from something like that??? If you think that's what good relationships are built on, you are in for a rude awakening, my friend. TBH I thought Mal was way sexier than him, anyway. No contest who she should pick in my opinion. Team Mal 4ever. Don't @ me. (You'll have to read it to see who she picks!)
I still kind of hate Alina, and I still want to punch her. Alina: *seeks out Baghra for wisdom* Baghra: "Who's that?" Alina: "Captain of my guard." Baghra: "He sounds like—" Alina: "KBYEEE CYA LATER." And also, Mal: "I put a beetle in that container and then I could hit it in the dark with a bullet." Alina: "You don't say. That's impressive but not suspiciously magical at all. Cool." LIKE HELLO WAKE UP WOMAN.
I'm also very mad at myself for not putting all the pieces together before they were revealed. I was very close, and I got almost all the way there, to the point where it all seems so obvious in hindsight. I can only credit Leigh Bardugo for that.