*Can’t stop laughing*
God. I am quite speechless. I have no idea what I feel about this book. Mal is lesser of an ass in this book. Alina improves. Finally. But she starts off ridiculous as well. By the end of it, she’s become saner. The Darkling. Now. The Darkling is the only one that moves this book. I swear this series would have greatly benefitted if we had his point of view. He is by far the most interesting character that doesn’t have any page-time to showcase himself in his true glory. Nikolai is a strong second but his participation in this book is limited too.
But who’s point of view do we have? Alina. And most of what she thinks and does has something to do with Mal. Another character that I can’t get into.
Anyway lets get to the plot: We end off Siege and Storm with Nikolai and Alina separating after the Darkling attacks the palace. Once again, Alina and some her pals, including Mal, go into hiding. The Darkling has taken over Ravka as King and is still searching for Alina. Alina’s only hope is to get her hands on this exquisite thing that will amplify her powers so that she has any fighting chance again the Darkling to end him off once and for all. So Alina and her friends go on the quest to find it. They end up reuniting with Nikolai but the Darkling makes trouble and a whole lot of shit ensues. Basically this book is the last instalment of Alina VS the Darkling.
Review for: Shadow and Bone
Review for: Siege and Storm
And I don’t regret picking this series up. I do like the story but as I mentioned earlier I truly believe this series would have greatly benefitted with the Darkling’s point of view. I know I said in my Siege & Storm review that the Darkling’s participation in this series is too long, but he really is why I continued on. L-O-L. I also know I said he doesn’t feel like a threat but he’s a threat to everyone except Alina. He gets crazier though. His obsession for Alina has really made him do all kinds of evils and yet, he is still so damn smart. He plans well. But we get so little of him that I’ve tabbed every part where he makes an appearance because those are really the best parts of the book and the parts I want to revisit. Why? Because scenes with the Darkling are the only scenes where Alina shines. Alina’s only smart when it comes to the Darkling. When she’s around everyone else, all she is, is a follower. She never comes up with ideas, she’s never able to make sense of strategies unless someone spells it out for her. But when it comes to the Darkling and having to face off with him, then all of a sudden she just gets smarter. She says smart things. She shows strength.
The Darkling dies. But I mean is it really a spoiler? I hate that he died and I wished he wouldn’t have but Alina was very clear. She wasn’t going to watch him turn over a new leaf. And the Darkling wasn’t changing. The true spoiler is the predicament of Alina. But whatever, Darkling dies and I felt more for his death than the possibility of Mal’s death. The Darkling’s death was sad and just… sad and unfair. I mean the way he dies is a little… at this point though, I didn’t expect a grand death. I’ve read enough books and watched enough movies to know that it will never be grand death when a villain/hero is hyped for far too long before they battle to the death. So I’m not going to talk about the way the Darkling died. It’s fine. I just have an issue with the fact that he died before redemption. Another spoiler: I just knew Mal wouldn’t die. Is this also a spoiler though? It’s said that Mal might have to be sacrificed for the greater good but like… somehow I just knew he wouldn’t die. The fact that he survived two books when he should have died right in the beginning made me sure he won’t die. I did come to understand why he wasn’t killed off in the first two books. He turns out to be very crucial to the story. But still, he should have died way early.
There’s something I just don’t like about Mal and Alina’s romance. Goodreads users suggest that having Alina (who by the end of the book has lost her powers) together with Mal who’s only wanted Alina without her powers is a terrible choice and shows that guys can’t handle females that are more powerful than them. But I feel like Mal kind of made amends to his unwillingness to accept her power in Siege and Storm in this Book 3. In the beginning of Ruin and Rising he was prepared to give up their relationship if he had to. He knew her powers would prove far more useful if she was Queen rather than his wife. And before the final battle, when Alina still had her powers, he chose to be with her, he was willing to accept her for all she was. And after the battle when she lost all her powers, he did accept her as well. So I guess I’m not really that irked that they’re together. I get that it’s trying to say that with or without her power, Mal still adores her (because once Alina loses her power, for a split second the Darkling is just like ‘you suck now’ < but I personally think what the Darkling actually said was so out of character just to prove that Mal is the better option. The Darkling actually said: ‘you are nothing now’. Sure once Alina loses her power she really can’t do much for him, but you have to be kidding me if he never felt anything else towards her. And when he was dying, he did have some kind of thing for her anyway so what’s up with that ‘you are nothing now’ when she’s obviously something.) Even though the fact that Mal and Alina are together doesn’t send me any wrong signals, I’m just upset they are together. I’m just upset Mal didn’t die. I’m just a skeptic of one true love. Sure, they were childhood friends, sure they have had lover’s squabbles, they give their lives for each other but like… meh. I just don’t see how they are good for each other other than the fact that they like each other. They don’t make the other a better person. In all three books, they don’t even instigate any other sort of feelings other than love and jealousy in the other. The Darkling makes her question herself, who she is, what she stands for, which in return Alina makes the Darkling wonder the same by being the exact opposite of the Darkling. Nikolai makes her question how she wants to use powers, in return Alina makes him question his morals. The hell does Mal do? Make her question if she loves him. I don’t know. And what does Alina do for Mal? Between the two of them, it’s just a sappy love story. That’s not to say I was rooting for the Darkling and Alina. Nahhh. I think they could have had a good friendship. Nikolai and Alina? Now that’s a ship I’d like to have seen sailed.
There’s another character I want to talk about. Bhagra. Bhagra taught Alina. A savage old woman, who says the dandiest of things, who’s also the mother of the Darkling. In the first book, she was clearly on Alina’s side against her son. She wanted Alina to get away before her son makes use of her. In the second book, she’s beyond upset by the fact that not only did Alina not get away but she’s been provoking her son and making him greedier – not really but I can’t be dishing out her whole character arc in a sentence. Anyway, in this third book, all of a sudden she’s on Alina’s side again. Not that I can’t understand why she made the leap but I’d like to know what she’s been through. See, that’s the problem with having this series only be in Alina’s point of view. The Darkling, Bhagra they’re all very interesting characters. Sad.
I’m just going to say something about how everything works. Flying ships, the battle plan, how Morozova made the amplifiers, I don’t know. Not that I read every word of this book. I skimmed through paragraphs of words to get to the action. Because I really just wanted to see this book end and how it was going to end and Alina was a little bleah to follow. I’m just glad this book was short. I’m glad all three books were short given the storyline. But who knows, maybe a longer book, a better plot to carry it through, more character arcs would have done wonders for this book.
All the side characters really steal the show for me. Genya, Zoya, Tolya, Tamar, Adrik even Misha. Hell, even the ass Ivan who worked for the Darkling and got killed in Book 2 was a character I liked. Plot wise, I’ve got nothing to say. Don’t go in expecting too much. I actually had some expectations. Because I read the Six of Crows duology (you can read my review here: Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom) before picking this trilogy up. And that duology had so many smart characters, they had their weaknesses but they were all undeniably strong in their own respect. Multiple points of views. Multiple character arcs. Every character was making the other question something intrinsic about themselves. Basically, the Six of Crows duology was not just a love story. This Shadow and Bone trilogy, if you take away all its war and destruction, it is a love story between two characters I don’t even like. Sad. Writing wise, Leigh Bardugo’s writing is comfortable to read. It’s just Alina’s point-of-view that at times annoy you.
This series. It’s the same thing I said for the second book.
I can’t really get on board with the plot but okay, sure, if that’s what happened, okay, it makes sense anyway.
I don’t regret picking this book up. Pick it up for The Darkling. Even though he’s such a tease since you never see him in all his glory. But his pull is so strong. He’s the only reason I completed this series. He and Nikolai (though he only appears from the second book but he’s worth the wait). Also Nikolai makes an appearance in Crooked Kingdom. He’s a character that’s funny, charming and smart. And who doesn’t like a character like that but even in Crooked Kingdom he didn’t have that much page time. So it’s nice to see him in his best form in the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, especially in Book 2 where you really get a sense of his smarts and his comebacks. Besides I hear Nikolai is getting his own duology.
I really desire the Darkling’s spinoff.
The Darkling has a prequel out though, The Demon in the Wood. But it’s a no from me. It’s a short story from when the Darkling was a kid. I couldn’t get past the first page. This is similar to what happened in Six of Crows too, so many characters introduced so fast and I know nothing of each of them, other than who I’m guessing Bhagra and the Darkling is.
The Tailor which shows Genya’s point of view in a scene in Book 1 is great though. There’s a lot more Darkling there too. And he’s still such a damn tease.
I think I might just re-read the Six of Crows duology.