All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Series Review: Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow And Bone (Shadow And Bone #1)
Leigh Bardugo
Orion
2017 (originally 2012), 358p
Personal purchased copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

I originally read this in 2013 (and reviewed it too) but never finished the series. I ended up buying a boxset of it, I think after I bought Six Of Crows and Crooked Kingdom and ended up re-reading this in 2019, intending to finally finish it but once again, never got around to it. Since beginning to watch Shadow And Bone on Netflix, I’ve been inspired to actually catch up and so, finally finish this series. Especially if they plan to make more of the TV series.

The problem is, I really don’t like book-Mal. I just find him incredibly unappealing and all Alina’s inner thoughts about him really boring. I know of course, it’s pointless shipping her with anyone else, these books have been out for years and I know how they end, pretty much. I enjoy the world, but everything with Alina and Mal leaves me cold.

8/10

(read in 2019)

Siege And Storm (Shadow And Bone #2)
Leigh Bardugo
Orion
2017 (originally 2013), 435p
Personal purchased copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. 

Unfortunately for me, there’s a lot of Alina and Mal in this book, because at the end of the previous, they fled The Darkling and are now basically on the run from him. This book only made me dislike Mal even more – he comes across as petty, jealous, snarky and just….I’m not sure, like he doesn’t like the fact that Alina is powerful. He keeps saying he’ll do what she wants but that he wishes it was just them again like before it was discovered that she was Grisha. Mal is all about being this amazing tracker but if anyone starts talking about Alina’s powers and abilities, he turns into this sullen little boy.

This book introduces Nikolai and people are biiiig fans of Nikolai and he’s part of the reason I decided to finally complete this trilogy, so that I could move onto King Of Scars and Rule Of Wolves and know who the heck he was. So far I’m reserving judgement – he’s okay but I find him a bit much at times and I can understand why Alina wanted to punch him (and why she did). And at the moment, he just seems like another one that’s going to fall in love with Alina. Love square!

It was fine. I enjoyed it enough but man, I wish Mal would just get over himself. Or that Alina would get over him.

7/10

Book #75 of 2021

Ruin And Rising (Shadow And Bone #3)
Leigh Bardugo
Orion
2017 (originally 2014), 417p
Personal purchased copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: 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.

And so I have finally finished this trilogy now! After what I’ve heard about the ending of this, I didn’t actually really expect to enjoy this much but surprisingly I thought it wasn’t too bad. There was some stuff I really liked – the beginning, with planning the escape from the underground tunnels/caves as well as the search to find the third amplifier and I actually found characters like Zoya really growing on me. I suspect that’s probably a good thing as I think she’s quite prevalent in the King of Scars duology. Likewise I enjoyed Nikolai a lot more in this one: I think because he was ‘changed’ and had to really fight for himself, for his humanity, rather than just being this super smooth prince who is way too cool for words. It’ll be interesting to see how he is after this experience, and how he’s going to go rebuilding Ravka.

But there were a few things I found disappointing – the actual reality of the third amplifier (because of course it would turn out to be that, we can’t have anything not revolve around Mal in this series), the demise of the The Darkling felt very easy in the end, after hundreds of years of him honing his evilness. I kind of expected a bit more. The lead up felt nice and dramatic, but the actual showdown…..quite anticlimactic. And then the aftermath of what Alina did, it all felt all nice and convenient so that they could just basically do what Mal wanted: go back to the farm and live ordinary, boring lives.

Basically, this was the book I read in order to read other books but it was okay.

6/10

Book #77 of 2010

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Shadow And Bone – Leigh Bardugo

Shadow And BoneShadow And Bone (The Grisha #1)
Leigh Bardugo
Henry Holt & Co.
2012, 358p
Read from my local library

Her parents killed by the Border Wars, Alina grew up in an orphanage on the property of a Duke. With Mal, also an orphan and her best friend to keep her company, the two form a strong bond that carries all the way through into adolescence and their roles in the armed forces as tracker and cartographer.

Attempting a dangerous crossing of an area known as the Shadow Fold, Alina and the other crew on the boat are attacked by mysterious creatures that make the crossing so trecherous. They all should’ve died – but something happened to scare them off, something that one of the most powerful Grisha in the land has been waiting for. Alina suddenly finds herself as hot property, protected by The Darkling and spirited away to a castle of opulent finery where the King and Queen reside and where she can learn to accept the fact that she has a powerful talent – but now she just needs to learn to summon it on her own.

Alina can use this power for good – she can push back the Shadow Fold and wipe out the creatures that attack anyone that tries to cross, feasting on their human flesh. She can open up the land to crossings again, put an end to the rations and poverty she herself experienced when she was younger. Although she has harboured a love for Mal, now an extremely gifted Tracker, she begins to fall under the spell of the mysterious and powerful Darkling. He promises her a future that is as bright as the light she can summon.

Even with all that, Alina doesn’t forget Mal. And when it looks as though everything might be coming down around her, that she might be responsible for great evil rather than good, it is Mal who proves once again that the two are together forever, no matter what.

This is an interesting (also, hard) book to try and review. From what I’ve read and the overall feel, the location seems based on Russia but the author has taken some liberties and there are plenty of inaccuracies. That’s fine – this is a fantasy novel. I liked the setting – a land ravaged by wars, cut in two by the mysterious Shadow Fold. A place of crippling poverty where some people have little, but with palaces adorned with real gold and every luxury to indulge in.  Alina is to be honest, not a particularly original main character – she has few friends, very little in the way of support other than her deep friendship with Mal which is complicated at the beginning of the book by the fact that she’s in love with him and believes that he doesn’t feel the same way. Mal is apparently a bit of a flirt, a bit of a ladies man and has no problems attracting a female eye, something that causes Alina much jealousy and lamenting of her ordinary looks.

Then with the discovery of her superior power and the subsequent attention from The Darkling, she does undergo a bit of a metamorphosis but I liked the fact that it wasn’t a complete one. She isn’t just magically transformed into a beautiful and confident girl – she has to work very hard to summon her power and learn how to wield it and it takes her an awful long time. She enjoys the attention of The Darkling (quite frankly, who wouldn’t?) and slowly the memory of Mal fades a little, although she does continue to wonder where he is now and what he’s doing. She doesn’t hear from him even though she writes to him but she has plenty to keep her occupied.

I’m beginning to think that I am incapable of choosing the right side in a love triangle. I don’t know how often I get invested in a character only for the female main character to choose the other option either time and time again if it’s a series, or once and for all in a final novel if it’s a trilogy. This can make reading these books frustrating because quite often, the other option bores the pants off me. And I’m sorry to say that Mal….bored the ever living heck out of me.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with him, I just found him utterly unfleshed out and lacking in personality. He’s skilled and handsome and beginning to draw the eye of women but to be honest, I didn’t really sense an ounce of chemistry between him and Alina whatsoever. However I found myself immediately interested in The Darkling – he has layers to uncover and at the end of this book looks almost irredeemable. But there’s two more installments to go so I’m sure that more information will come out about him. He is indeed a very flawed bad boy type of character, but taken to another level. He’s what makes me want to pick up the next book, him and Alina and the interactions between them. I’m sincerely hoping that he isn’t going to be absent from the second novel just to pad things and out and waste time!

All in all this is a very engaging book – I enjoyed the magic side of it and as I mentioned, I like the setting. I had my issues with Alina, she wasn’t always the heroine I wanted her to be, but I think that she was taking the right steps the more she went on her journey of learning how to use her powers. I want the two of them to come face to face again and showdown (and more).  So I will read the next book when it comes out and hope that I come out of feeling a little more satisfied because there’s a little less Mal.

7/10

Book #89 of 2013

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