(No spoilers without proper warning.)
SHADOW AND BONE
Alina is a war orphan and has always been skinny and sickly. She grew up with her best friend Mal, a stocky boy who turned into a handsome young man. Alina’s afraid that the two of them are growing apart and she’s never had the courage to confess her true feelings to Mal.
The country of Ravka has been at war for over a century. A year ago Mal and Alina joined the military, Alina as a mapmaker, Mal as a tracker.
Their company is preparing to cross into the fold, an area of space where all is black and monsters known as volcra live. When they are attacked something shocking happens.
Alina is knocked out, then held at gunpoint and taken to the Darkling, a man with power over darkness itself. The Darkling leads the second army, the Grisha, people who have magical powers.
The Grisha are divided into summoners, (who control fire, wind or water) corporalki (heart renders and healers) and tinkerers. (Who make weapons, armor, and inventions like powders for explosives.)
The world of Grisha is unique as are the customs and words used, though they do sound a bit Russian. The romance worked and felt real. (I personally don’t like either of Alina’s suitors, but that’s just me. The Darkling has more promise than Mal, I just don’t like him.) The mystery actually fooled me. Afterwards I was surprised I didn’t see it coming, but it was well done, because I totally didn’t. (I kept talking about it afterwards too.)
Alina is sometimes foolish, but the author does such a good job of telling the story that these ‘mistakes’ make sense to the audience and some even turn out not to be mistakes.
SIEGE AND STORM
The sequel continues along the same lines as the end of Shadow and Bone. We meet some engaging new characters, most notably Stormhond the ‘pirate’. I found myself wishing Alina would have a new love interest and there is a new guy in her life, but I’m not sure what to make of him. He’s an interesting, mysterious character, but can he be trusted? Can anyone?
The book started with a bang, but dwindled in the middle. There’s too much planning and plotting and telling of time passing, but of course there’s plenty of action by the end.
RAISING AND RUIN
Raising started depressing, but luckily that storyline only lasts for the first chapter. (I hated that priest!)
We finally found out more about the Darkling’s past, including his name. I was satisfied with his name, it suited him.
There were multiple plot twists in the last book, and even the things I thought I’d figured out were a bit different than I expected. The first of the two major twists was good, but the second didn’t make any sense. (So much for small science…)
Most people will probably be happy with the ending, but I’m not. Overall I enjoyed this book and thought it was as good as Siege. (Except for that one part of the ending. I could rant about that all day, but I won’t.)
Shadow and Bone – 8 stars
Siege and Storm – 7 stars
Raising and Ruin – 6 stars (1 subtracted for the ending)
SPOILERS: DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ SIEGE AND STORM (No spoilers for Rising and Ruin though)
Which guy were you rooting for? (Was anyone rooting for Mal?) What did you want to happen to Alina? Queen? Grisha leader?
I know that Mal is supposed to be the love interest for Alina, and she keeps telling me how great he is, but I just don’t see it. I’d like to see her with the prince personally, (Which is strange for me, I’m not a prince sort of girl, but then again he isn’t the usual prince.) And if not the prince than the Darkling. (Yes, I know he’s technically the bad guy, but I can’t help it. I like him. Certainly more than stupid Mal.)
I know Alina hated ruling the Grisha, but I think she could do a good job of it. Maybe not as the sole ruler, but with a council of other Grisha. (or the Darkling.) Sure. Or she could be the queen, that would be cool too. I’m good with either of these outcomes. Becoming evil and joining the Darkling would work too. She could become a pirate with Stormhond and I’d be happy. (Not that I expect that outcome.)
Okay, I had to rant a little (SPOILERS FOR END OF RISING AND RUIN) DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ RISING AND RUIN
The part I hated about the ending wasn’t which guy she would up with, because though I hated Mal, I expected her to wind up with him. (Even though I kept hoping otherwise.) The whole he’s dead, no wait he isn’t was rather dumb, but that’s not what really bothered me either. Nor was it about anyone who died. (Though a couple of more people could’ve died and made me happy, namely that priest.)
Alina losing her powers was about the worst outcome possible, and as if that wasn’t bad enough now dozens of other people suddenly have the sun summoner powers! (So much for special!) Now tell me that’s a happy ending? Everyone who got her powers is a good guy right and wouldn’t cause all manner of trouble for the Ravka now? Right…
Even the pathetically sappy reopening of the orphanage would be acceptable if only Alina had her powers! (Maybe just the amplifiers broke so she’s back with her natural powers.)
Okay, I know I said I wouldn’t rant, but I couldn’t help it. I really like these books and the whole losing her powers and lots of normal people all of a sudden having them almost ruined it for me! Okay, I’m done now. (Molly backs away sheepishly.)