Book Review: The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo


Ok so yes this is a review of all 3 Grisha Trilogy books all at once and that is because I didn’t really like them. I got off to a great start and then everything just went downhill from there. Now I LOVE Six of Crows, the spin off book from this series. I actually read that first and have a review post on that plus it made my top 10 books of 2015 list. But for some reason the Grisha books just never seemed to go in the direction I wanted them to.

Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1):

Starting with the first book, this got off to a great start. I really loved how quickly this book threw us into the action in the the shadow fold and how Alina has this amazing power that saves everyone. Then I loved the scene in the tent with the Darlking. He’s so cool and I love how everyone is immediately silent when he speaks and how he is able to find her power and make the light come out. Then I love when he whisks her away after how he tells Ivan to treat her well because she’s grisha now. Then when Alina grabs the darkling and everyone seems to hold their breath but he seems to let her. I was on that ship right away and honestly I still am.

From there we go into the coach and I love how Alina is all stubborn and doesn’t want to go and Ivan seems so shocked that she said no. The coach ride has it’s funny moments. I love how the 2 grisha seem to stare at her like she has 2 heads because they’re expecting her to flare up with light at any second. We get another action packed segment when the coach is attacked and I love how the Darkling comes riding in to save the day and uses the cut to save Alina and she’s so scared but he tells her he had to do it to save her and for the rest of the trip she gets to ride on his horse.

It’s great when Alina gets to the little palace and she’s being treated like the new kid at school where all the grisha want to walk in with her and they’re arguing over who she belongs with and then the darkling swoops in again and all he has to say is “She’ll walk with me” and the room goes silent. I also squealed when the Darlking tells Genya to get Alina a kefta and tells  her it will be black *swoon*. But then stupid Alina begs for it to be blue because she doesn’t want to stand out. I love when he summons Alina to his chambers and she freaks out because she’s expecting torture of something horrible and all he wants is to ask her about her day. Then we have that 1 nice kiss and the awesome demonstration scene at the ball with his dark and her light and then it all goes down hill from there for me.

I am not a Mal fan. I don’t know why but for some reason whenever there’s a love triangle I never route for the “childhood friend”. Mortal Instruments? Jace over Simon. Twilight? Edward over Jacob. Iron Fey? Ash over Puck any day. So I have a pattern. So whenever the “best friend” ends up as the love interest, I’m usually disappointed. And don’t ask why. It’s not like I route against the friend on purpose. I just usually find the new guy more intriguing. So anyway when she runs off to find Mal I was not impressed. And I know what you’re probably thinking. “Aren’t you skipping over the fact that the Darkling is really the bad guy?” Yes, yes I am. Because that is not how I saw this story working out so I was disappointed for the rest of the series.

Anyways, so I did not enjoy the remainder of the book. Her with Mal. The stag dying. The collar. Going out into the fold. I did like that she learned to use the cut though. That was pretty awesome. And I loved how shocked everyone was that she learned it. But anyway the fact that it ended up with her and Mal running away was disappointing to me. But I was holding out hope for a turn around in the next book.

Seige and Storm (Grisha #2)

So second book opens with Alina and Mal in hiding. However when they were going back to their inn and Alina kept noticing how quiet everything was I was practically screaming at her “hello?! obvious trap ahead!?!” but she of course did not figure it out until it was too late. So she ended up a prisoner of the darkling and i’m sure you’re thinking I’d like that but I didn’t because I don’t like this ruthless Darlking. I liked the Darkling from the beginning of book 1 who was all nice and respected and treated Alina like she was important. But anyway I loved the captain of the ship, Sturmhond. I had a suspicion he was a good guy and I loved his personality. He had some great lines like “anything worth doing always starts as a bad idea” or “when people say impossible they usually mean improbably”. I did see it coming that he was Nikolai. And I was immediately hooked. He was my new, new guy. I was now rooting for him over Mal any day. He was so well written and so funny. Then of course I died when he announced his title and Alina punched him in the face. So the second book was off to a promising start. Then when he suggested Alina become the Queen I was all for it and I did laugh when Mal jumped up and Nikoli told him he didn’t want to get blood on his uniform.

So I was perfectly content reading about their march to Os Alta where Nikoli was being a charming prince and cracking jokes every page and kissing her hand and putting on a good show and then finally kissing her and saying “please don’t punch me” right before was great. She kicked him in the shin and their banter in the carriage was so cute. When they got to the little palace I was happy to see Alina finally taking charge and having a backbone. Plus I liked when Nikoli was giving political advice and attempting to teach her to lead. The “Great Herring Decree” was just another shining moment for him. I really enjoyed all Alina was doing at the little palace and how she was reshaping the grisha. What I didn’t like was moody mal ruining everything and then these unexplained visions of the darkling all the time. When they snuck out to go to the party that was just stupid and same thing when she went out to the pilgrims and almost died. I love how Toyla was all over Mal for not being on guard when she went out there because I am all aboard the no-more-mal train.  But when Nikoli said “I want to kiss you. But I won’t. Not until you’re thinking of me instead of trying to forget him” I was so thrilled and then Alina had to go and ruin it.

Something that really bothered me in this is that Alina and Mal didn’t seem to notice the weird thing that happened when they touched. Immediately I had guessed that he was the other amplifier and it took them all the way to the end of the third book to figure that out which was so annoying.  So anyways I did not like how the second book ended at all. All the planning for the entire book ruined. So many people died, although I was not unhappy when Vasily died. I didn’t hate that Alina was going to kill herself and the Darkling but the fact that she lost her powers and was all weak at the end I did not like.

Ruin and Rising (Grisha #3)

So I did not like that start of Ruin and Rising. I hated all the scenes underground. I hated how weak Alina was and couldn’t wait for her to get above ground. So when that finally happened I was pleased. Then when they were surrounded in the woods and someone said “why not ransom her to Nikolai Lantsov?” I knew what was about to go down and I was so happy. Then when the “soldier” continued to say “he’s damnably handsome. Brave in battle, smart as a whip, an excellent danger and an even better shot” I was practically peeing myself. And then I was quite literally crying with laughter when Alina says “Imposs-” and Mal says “don’t even say it”. That scene was without a doubt the highlight of the entire third book. If the rest of it had been like that I would have been fine. But it wasn’t.

They go to Nikolai’s mountain palace and then of course that gets ruined and even more people die and my poor baby Nikolai is turned into this awful monster thing and I was so sad. Then the rest of the book is them running around looking for the magic bird to be the third amplifier even though it’s obvious to me it’s Mal. Don’t know why it took them so long to figure that out.

The ending battle was really anticlimactic. The Darkling died. Alina lost her powers. Mal lived but lost his tracking ability. Nikolai being turned back to normal was about the only good thing at the end of the book. What really bothered me though was Alina losing her powers. I hate books where an entire series has a lead up that ends up being for nothing. My strongest example is the end of the Fallen series by Lauren Kate (SPOILER FOR FALLEN DON’T READ) when at the end of 4 books they lose their memories and start new lives and none of it ever happened as far as they’re concerned. Hate that (spoilers over). So this felt like that for me where there whole series was Alina learning to use her powers and getting the amplifiers and then in the end she has no powers.

So that is my review of the Grisha Triology. I gave Book #1 three stars, Book #2 three starts and Book #3 two stars. But I loved Six of Crows. What I will say is that reading the Grisha Trilogy really helped clear up a lot about the Grisha in Six of Crows and going back and looking at Six of Crows there were some nice little easter eggs from the Grisha Trilogy which was nice.

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