Review + Discussion: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Publication: June 17th, 2014 by Henry Holt and Co.

Format: Hardcover, 417 pages

Source: Own copy, bought from Fullybooked

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy

Add to Goodreads | Purchase this Book

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.

My Review.

So I decided to separate this review into two parts: a spoiler-free section and a spoiler-infested discussion. Please feel free to skip the discussion if you haven’t read the series yet. You should by the way.

non spoilery

The moment I had this book in my hands, I knew I was never going to let go. I plan on isolating myself from humanity and read in undistracted peace. Since this is the last book, I thought was prepared for anything Leigh had to throw at my poor heart. I thought I could handle everything that was going to happen in this book. And like the too-clever fox Leigh is, she completely threw me overboard. I hope you’re happy Leigh.

Ruin and Rising was like this old and weathered key I’ve been looking for since forever. I simply needed it to unlock all of these questions that contain the secrets of the universe. Or in this case, the Darkling’s real name.

I savoured every page of this damn book. I know some people say that this series has a very slow pace, but I think it’s part of the design Leigh created. She wanted us to get sucked into this whole new fantastical realm. To get enamoured with these flawed characters. And in a span of three books, Leigh has managed to crack my heart open and revive it back to life. I was so satisfied with how this series concluded. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better ending than this one.

As I flipped through the very last page, it was that moment did I realize that it’s all over. Heartbreaking as it may seem, I’m still glad I got to read this series. It’s easily one of the best decisions I have ever made. And to all of you who have not read these wonderful books or is just planning to, I tell you go. You simply cannot miss out on this one.

5 stars


Welcome to the spoiler-filled discussion for Ruin and Rising! By now, I hope y’all have read the book and are wearing black and mourning for everything that has happened. If you have not read Ruin and Rising or the other Grisha books, run along now. I don’t want your minds to be corrupted with spoilers.

Now. Let us discuss.

Nikolai Lantsov aka Sturmhond aka That Maddeningly Witty Bastard is indeed alive and kicking. And talking more.

After the end of Siege and Storm, I was so worried about our beloved privateer. I thought he was already dead and won’t make a flash appearance in R&R, but thank the Saints that is not the case. He’s still the same Sturmhond as ever, and I’m glad he is. Thank you Leigh for breathing life to this insufferable character.

The Darkling’s name is revealed. 

His name is Aleksander, dammit. I actually guessed this name once, but dismissed it afterwards because there was a similarly-named character in Shadow and Bone. I was expecting a much exotic name than Aleksander but who cares? He has a name. And the Darkling was like this to Alina after the big revelation:


The firebird is not the third amplifier.


That was a clever move, Leigh. I didn’t think my brain cells could handle this much trauma. I obviously thought wrong again.

It turns out Mal is the third amplifier which makes sense if you think about it. I had to flip back the page to digest what had just been revealed and I was just mind blown about it. I think I may have laughed afterwards.

The ending + my own demise.

Wow. What an ending. What a heart-stopping ending. I had to put the book down because it was too much to handle. You know like when you have brain freeze after eating way too much ice cream, you have no choice but to stop eating unless you want to get a frostbitten brain. That was the ending for me.

When Alina stabbed Mal to complete Morozova’s cycle of amplifiers, I was a goner. But the pain doesn’t end there.


Alina kills the Darkling. Did I expect it? Yeah. Was I prepared for it? Heck no. I thought I was going to lose my sanity there, but to be honest I just felt sad emotions. I wasn’t angry or anything like that. I was just mourning for this lonely boy caught up in greed and power.

Mal comes back from the dead. No surprise there. When I first started reading R&R, I know it was Mal who Alina is going to end up with. I thought I was going to be upset about it (because Nikolina isn’t endgame ha), but instead I felt this sense of contentment that everything is the way it was supposed to be. Yeah, the last chapter was an emotional moment for me.

A few days later and I still can’t grasp at the thought that it is all over. I’m still in a mourning period, but it’s the best mourning period I have ever had. After writing this review, I’ll probably read the ending again. I’ll just keep on coming back and making sure nothing has changed.

Once more, thank you Leigh for inviting us to see your world unravel from these very pages. I will never forget this.

P.S. Leigh’s writing a spin-off series set in the Grishaverse called The Dregs which I’m totally excited for haa.

8 thoughts on “Review + Discussion: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

  1. I’m so happy that you loved it too!!! 😀 Your wait probably made finally reading it that much sweeter I’m guessing. And OHMYGOODNESS I completely freaked when I first learned about The Dregs. Need. More. Grisha.

  2. You can tell Ms. Bardugo wrote a good book by how excited and emotional the reviews on it are. (and there’s no way to not write a review without some spoilers!) I was mostly satisfied with the ending, but she sure did put a lot of twists into it. I was thinking about it for days! I can’t wait for her next series! I’m so glad it’s going to have magic in it too!

  3. Damn it! I can’t believe that it’s over. I hate it to admit it but I wasn’t expecting to like the final book because I know in my heart that the Darkling will die and he’s the only character that drives me to read this series. But gosh, Mal’s character development and he’s the third amplifier – I wasn’t expecting that – at all! And I actually thought that Mal was going to die. Seriously! I was crying when Mal and the Darkling was lying there between Alina. I would have died with the Darkling but I want Mal to live and be happy with Alina.

    I am satisfied with the ending. Most readers are not because I guess they’re expecting the Darkling to be the better guy in the end.

    PS: I just finished it last night and until now, I feel like I’m in a worst book hangover.

  4. THIS REVIEW GAVE ME HEART PALPITATIONS BECAUSE ALL THE FEELS CAME RUSHING BACK AND I CAN’T COPE AND OF COURSE I AM WEARING BLACK AND ahahah the gif after The Darkling’s name BUT HE WAS LITERALLY LIKE THAT AND OH MY HEART MAL MAL MAL and hey yeah Sturmhound, he is by far one of my favourite characters – I also lived Baghra. 🙂 Great review and just. asdfghjkl. My review is up at the end of this month I think but I DIDN’T ADD GIFS BECAUSE I WAS TOO HEARTBROKEN TO CARE AND NOW I REGRET IT BUT oh.

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