WARNING: If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, there are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Grisha trilogy is one of many series that was on my never-ending to-read list. I’ll be honest that my initial reasoning behind reading the books is shallow: I liked the covers. They’re really cool covers in my opinion. Later, I read the description for the first novel, Shadow and Bone, and was interested.
The series centers on Alina Starkov, who is a mapmaker, and her best friend, Mal, who is a tracker. Mal is a people person and was always considered the cool one of the two. Alina and Mal have known each other for years because a lady named Ana Kuya adopted them both. Alina always felt inferior to Mal even though she has strong feelings for him. She feels like he doesn’t see her as more than just a friend.
One day when Alina and Mal are captured, Alina discovers this power involving light that she never even knew that she had. She is then whisked off to the First Palace to train to become a Grisha soldier. Also, her training is supposed to help The Darkling to take down this area called The Fold that is separating their home country, Ravka, from other countries. At first, after seeing the chemistry between Alina and the Darkling I shipped them. Later on while reading the book I discovered why that was a terrible idea.
As the story goes on, we learn the Darkling’s true motives with the fold and it has bad repercussions for everyone. When Alina finds this out, she tries to stop the Darkling’s plan but it doesn’t work. In the midst of everything, Alina and Mal finally revealed their feelings for each other.
Fast forward to the second book, Siege and Storm, Alina and Mal are on the run from the Darkling after their battle at the end of the first novel. Of course the running doesn’t last long because the Darkling finds them. There’s another battle, but this time they have help from a privateer named Strumhond and his crew. After that battle, Strumhond takes Alina and Mal back to the palace for what they think is to meet a client of his. We also find out that Strumhond is hiding the truth about his real identity.
Throughout this novel there’s a lot of talk of politics and Alina feels like everyone is only interested in her for what she can offer them. We see a change in Alina from books 1 to 2 in that she’s become a lot stronger. She’s also become more powerful, but with this power comes a hunger and desire for more. This hunger for power almost causes her to lose everything. I would consider Alina to be a feminist character because she’s strong and doesn’t take crap from anybody. Although she is heavily flawed, she still has a lot of redeeming qualities.
There is a lot of romance in this series particularly with Alina and Mal as we see their relationship deepen. In the first book, there was some romance with Alina and the Darkling before she found out his true intentions. Strumhond also acts like he has feelings for Alina, but he can’t be trusted so these feelings don’t seem genuine. With all of this romance comes a heaping amount of drama. In Siege and Storm, there begins to be a strain on Alina and Mal’s relationship because they’re being directed in different directions. Fans of the relationship have to suffer through a lot. Despite the characters going through some tough, scary, and sometimes dire situations there was a lot of humor in these novels. I found myself laughing a lot.
While I’ve yet to read to the last book in the trilogy, Ruin and Rising, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next. All of the books, which are written by Leigh Bardugo, are available in our catalog. Bardugo has a new series of books coming out. The first one, Six of Crows, comes out this September.