One of my goals this year is to read some recent releases (instead of putting the book at the bottom of my list and then reading it in five years). This is how I read The Shadow and Bone Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I saw that King of Scars was being released, so I became interested. Turns out, it’s in the same Grishaverse as her original trilogy. Well, you have to start at the beginning! Plus, I had bought my sister the books for Christmas (partly so I could read them), and I’m a big fan of YA fantasy. Nothing was more natural than to binge read the entire trilogy in a matter of days. Don’t judge me.
In the world of the Grishaverse, humans with magical abilities (or Grisha) are occasionally born. These abilities might be manipulating metal and materials. They might be summoning wind and water. They might be the ability to heal or kill. Rarely—very rarely—they might be summoning the sun or darkness.
While in some countries these abilities are a death sentence, in Ravka they are celebrated. However, the Unsea stretches through Ravka, the giant scar of darkness filled with monstrous beasts. Only a miracle can heal the Unsea or a Sun Summoner. Problem is, there hasn’t been a Sun Summoner in centuries…or has there?
Shadow and Bone
Alina has hidden abilities—that of sun summoning—something so rare and valuable that she finds herself the center of selfish plots to use her abilities for evil ends. If that’s not enough, she’s torn between two men and two lives.
Siege and Storm
Alina is on a mission to lead the Grisha against the forces of darkness without losing her soul. But this might mean making choices—and sacrifices—that change her forever.
Ruin and Rising
Alina and Mal have sacrificed and fought, but the battle’s not over. They must find the third Amplifier and destroy the Unsea in order to defeat the enemy.
Alina is such a relatable character. She’s ordinary in every way with an extraordinary love for others. The Darkling is one of the most fascinating characters because of the shades of gray in which he lives. You find yourself loving him because he’s steeped in the good and evil of humanity. Mal is a breath of fresh air, an easy character to love for his complete devotion and courage. Nikolai, like all the other characters, is complex. On the surface he’s flighty and funny, but beneath he’s deadly serious. Bardugo’s characterization is amazing; no one is a stereotype, and that’s refreshing.
When it comes to trilogies, I have a couple of requirements. First, each book has to stand on its own to some extent. This means that it’s a full story. There might be foreshadowing or hints of what’s to come, but it should solve the problem introduced in the beginning of the book.
Next, it needs to be comprehensive. I should be able to pick up a book after an extended period and have a basic understanding of what came before. The rehash doesn’t have to be involved, just a few well-placed sentences that triggers memories. Nobody wants to reread every book in a series before reading the next one published.
Third of all, the overarching plot and the characters need to grow. No character stays the same, especially after upheaval. Likewise, no plot should plod along at the same pace without twists along the way.
Well, I’m happy to say that this series did that for me. There was character and plot growth, interesting stories, and twists and turns. Most importantly, the end was believable. The main characters didn’t come away unscathed.
As far as I’m concerned, incredible characters plus an engrossing world plus a riveting storyline is the perfect combination of elements. I was exceedingly happy with this series.