**This review will contain spoilers for the first two books in the Grishaverse series**
I ended up with a few extra days left in May after I finished Siege and Storm, so I decided to go ahead and move straight into Ruin and Rising, the final book in the main Grishaverse trilogy. I've been enjoying these books as a nice break in between all of my classics, and I was interested to see how the story would end. I went into my reading ready to get lost again in Ravka and finally find out if Alina and Mal are able to defeat the Darkling and save the day.
The novel picks up a little while after the battle at Os Alta in the previous book. It was a decisive victory for the Darkling. He was able to seize control of the Ravkan throne, destroy the little Palace, and kill most of the Grisha that remained loyal to the king. Alina, Mal, and a handful of others are able to escape and find themselves facing terrible odds. Their forces are decimated and even Alina's sun summoner powers offer little hope against a Grisha as powerful as the Darkling. Their best hope lies with the firebird, a legendary creature whose bones can be fashioned into another powerful amplifier to enhance Alina's magic.
Accordingly, the group sets out on a mission to find the firebird and use its power to defeat the Darkling once and for all. They face many dangers along the way. Setbacks occur and lives are lost. Throughout it all Alina does her best to be a leader and protect those she loves. The proves extra challenging when the group uncovers a truth about the firebird amplifier that threatens her resolve to continue. Caught in the old struggle of her heart versus her head, Alina must find a way to push past all the difficulties and find a way to save her country.
I thought this was a pretty good read and a fitting end to the trilogy. The way I felt about this one was very similar to how I felt about the other books in the series; it was an enjoyable and engaging read. Once again, Bardugo's world building was excellent, and several new locations in Ravka are explored in this story. We get deeper into the lore of the world as well, and there are a couple of big twists uncovered here that were genuinely surprising and that took the story in interesting directions. One issues I noticed was that this novel was plagued by the same slow parts that I noticed in the previous entries in the series. The action sequences and the bits where secrets were being revealed were great, but the parts in between were often quite slow. This factor, more than any other, is what makes this a 3-star series for me. While it was enjoyable overall, there were a lot of dead spots.
I continued to enjoy Alina's character development in this novel as well. She's stepped into her role as a leader by this time, and when you compare her demeanor now to how it was at the beginning of the series, it's a big difference. She still struggles with her attachment to Mal though. She loves him, but realizes that in order to defeat the Darkling and establish a stable government in Ravka afterwards, she might have to give him up. I still didn't feel overly attached to their relationship throughout a lot of this story, but by the final chapter, I had finally come around. I loved the ending to the story, and that's a strange thing for me to say. It's pretty common for me to be annoyed or underwhelmed by the conclusions of young adult fantasies, but I honestly thought this one was pretty much perfect.
Now that I'm at the end of the original series, my next step will be to take on the Six of Crows duology. I already own both books, and I figure that if I'm going to read them, I'd better do it soon while the details of the Shadow and Bone trilogy are still fresh in my mind. Those books also have a ton of hype surrounding them, so I curious to see if they live up to it. In the case of the Shadow and Bone series I just finished, I think that the books are a worthwhile read for sure, but I don't know that they necessarily lived up to all the chatter I heard online. Maybe I'll feel differently about the next entries in the Grishaverse.