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.
I’m surprised that the ending didn’t leave me emotionally crippled and unable to get out of bed the next morning. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the story wasn’t great. It was great.
Let’s start from the beginning of this book. Leigh Bardugo sure did an awesome job making the Apparat a character that’s not only really creepy, but also one that you want to strangle, even in your sleep. The build up of the action was well-paced, with nothing rushed as the story progressed towards the final showdown. I really loved how the relationships between the characters developed – in fact, I think that that’s the reason why I clawed at my chest in agony due to overwhelming feels (I might be exaggerating a little here, but you get the idea). It’s like I knew the characters on a personal level, and when *spoiler alert* (highlight to view) Baghra died, I was in total denial. I refused to accept it, even after many chapters passed. It was only when the showdown had ended and a whole other group of people died that I came to terms with it.
I really liked Baghra, that cranky old woman. She was endearing in a grandmotherly (a very naggy one) sort of way. And then there’s Nikolai. Oh, Nikolai. As much as he’s so charming and handsome, I’ll always ship Mal and Alina.
The ending was definitely something I didn’t expect. For a book of such intensity, I’d expected an ending with more… epicness. Death, darkness, explosions and all things painful. Maybe throw in a choir as the final clash takes place. For the Darkling, a person so unbelievably evil and hated, you’d expect a much more dramatic death. I probably sound like a sadist now, but that’s just how I feel. Perhaps I had set my expectations a notch too high for this final book, especially after how Adelena raved about it’s ending. Somehow, the parts that turned her into a human fountain simply made me go “oh”.
I must say though, there was this hollow feeling after it all. Kind of like your insides got carved out, just without the waterworks. The feeling lingers for a little while, but it dissipates at my favourite part of the book – the After/epilogue portion. You definitely cannot skip out on this part, because it’s beautifully written. Wraps up the story perfectly. It’s kind of magical and haunting in a wonderful way. I guess that’s what made me give the extra ½ star to my rating of the book.
All in all, I love the Grisha trilogy very, very much, especially the first book, Shadow and Bone. That was, in my opinion, the best out of all three books. I’m looking forward to reading The Dregs, which is also set in the Grishaverse! Hooray! And I really pray and hope that the movie for the Grisha trilogy will be a success, because I’ll be bawling from all the feels.