You know how sometimes you read a book and you realize that it’s the perfect book that you needed in that moment and also that it takes all the things you like and wraps them up nicely? That’s what happened to me with Leigh Bardugo’s faboulous Shadow And Bone trilogy.
Sure it’s a pretty basic YA Magical Chosen One story but instead of your usual medieval Western European setting Bardugo made her aesthetic choices that of Imperial Feudal Russia.
And man am I ever a sucker for that.
Shadow And Bone
Siege And Storm
Ruin And Rising
Leigh Bardugo writes books about magic. She also sings a band. She got her start on Tumblr which explains why everything in these books appeals so deeply to me. She lives in LA. Seriously, I think she might be my hero.
There are three books, all told in first person by our main character Alina Starkov, who learns late in her teens that she is a mystical “sun summoner” meant to free her country, Ravka for a dangerous dark “Unsea” at it’s center. She is trained by other Grisha, lead by a mysterious young man, The Darkling. Turns out he’s the bad guy and with the help of her childhood love, a young exiled prince and some other friends and allies, she searches for three mysterious objects that will amplify her power and end The Darkling.
While I read these books two quotes kept rushing through my head, “Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, monsters, giants, chases escape, true love…” from The Princess Bride and “But it’s my favorite! Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spell, a prince in disguise!” from Beauty And The Beast both of which I think sum up the story very well.
There’s also a lot of talk about humanity, greed, power, politics, religion and the way stories about them by the powerful shape the minds and lives of common people.
And that’s all well and good, but this series is not a heady contemplation of much of anything. It’s pretty straightforward. There’s also no less than three dreamy boys for you to ship Alina with. One of whom is the Darkling
After reading this series I definitely understand Reylo much more.
Siege And Storm is at the front of the pack because this is where we meet Prince Nikolai, but it’s also simply the best of the three, not something I usually say about middle chapters, but I really liked this one.
Least Favorite Book
I guess Ruin and Rising, but I loved the whole series. Endings are hard and Bardugo mostly sticks the landing even if the happily ever after isn’t the one I was writing for.
You guys, Nikolai Lanstov is a sarcastic pirate prince who’s described as handsome, arrogant, and infuriating. He runs around wearing disguises and quipping and about a page into meeting him I thought, “Wow, George Lucas and Harrison Ford sure did a number on us all culturally, because I would follow this guy into hell.”
Ohhhh, yes. I plan to reread this often. I haven’t fallen so deeply into a series in a long time, I want every part of it all the time. Luckily there are a bunch of ancillary stories and two follow up series, which I am currently waiting for at the library (well, virtually at least)
I’m not 100% sure what’s next. I have some book club stuff I need to get covered (I’ve joined 2 virtual book clubs) and I’m waiting on a few series to come avaiable on the library kindle app.