I know this review is coming out a few hours late, but I have been sick the last few days and really not up to blogging. Today is the first day I’ve felt semi-coherent. But better late than never.
And I’m finally done with this book series! Yay! It’s been a long journey, but I’m glad to finally be done with it. This is the third book of the series and, in my opinion, the best. We’ll get to that in a minute. Also, you should probably read my first two review for Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm first before reading this.
Page Count: 417
Synopsis: The remnants of the second army of Ravka and their leader, the sun summoner Alina, now hide far below the earth. The Darkling has taken over Ravka, and in order to stop him Alina and Mal must search out the firebird to gain enough power to destroy the Darkling once and for all.
I gave the first book of this series two stars, the second third stars, and this one four stars? What is this series? When do series get better? Anyway…there’s a lot to unpack about my thoughts of this book. This book was much better than the last two, for two important reasons. First, Bardugo’s strongest writing is in her faster paced action scenes. Most of her slower, character driven scenes go on for way too long, and because this third book focuses on much more action, it makes sense that it would be better. The second reason is because it lacks a lot of the teen angsty scenes found in the first two books. They are there on occasion, but there is only short focus on them and then the stories moves back into the action. Both of these things make the book feel much tighter written and more interesting, and the ending, while not perfect, concluded the series pretty well.
If you want to hear more of my spoiler thoughts on this book, feel free to watch my full spoiler review on Youtube at the end of this post.
So first, the characters. Alina’s motivation is even better than in the second book, which was my main criticism in the first book that she lacked any type of motivation. I still found her a bit annoying at times, especially when it came to dealing with all the love interests in her life, but she was most relatable in this book. Mal is not as annoying either, as he’s just there for most of the book and not doing as stupid things. Nikolai is awesome, as always, and I was really happy to see his ending.
A lot of the background characters also had story arcs I was happy with. For example, Genya learns to accept herself the way she is, while we learn a lot more about Baghra’s past, the mother of the Darkling. There are some characters who die in this book, but honestly none of the main characters, so I had trouble caring about most of the characters dying (except for one, but no spoilers). I was hoping that one or more of the main characters would have died, but that’s okay.
The Darkling’s character is boring, as always, and we never learned more about his motivations. We do learn more about where his powers came from, which I enjoyed, but the strange “character arc” he was given in this particular book made no sense.
One of my favorite things about this book was how well it progressed. Instead of being set in just a couple of places, the book bounces from place to place, progressing the plot as it goes. Because of that, it rarely feels stagnant in one place. The only exception to this is the beginning, where Alina and Mal are underground with the cult. That part took nearly a hundred pages to get out of, and I honestly feel like it could have been cut in half, considering how little the role of the cult is by the end of the book. But besides that, I never felt like the story stalled in one place for too long, and the story was always twisting to places I could not have expected.
I debated whether to give this book 3 stars or 4 stars (because to me it’s 3.5 stars but Goodreads doesn’t give that option), but I ended up deciding my enjoyment of it was high enough to give it 4 stars, even if the book itself wasn’t perfect.
It’s a rare series which gets better as it goes, but my theory was that Shadow and Bone was Bardugo’s first published book and she was still working on her writing style. Because I know I enjoyed the Six of Crows duology much better than this series.
Have you read this book, or this series? Is there a series you’ve read that has gotten better instead of worse as the series continued? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,