Grisha Trilogy

SERIES REVIEW: Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

As I said in a recent TBR post, though I read and enjoyed Six of Crows years ago I never finished that duology and I’d never read the original trilogy that started this Grisha’verse. Thanks to the trailer for the Shadow and Bone Netflix show, it got me reinterested in this series and now I’ve read the trilogy for the first time – and plan to reread Six of Crows and then read Crooked Kingdom for the first time. And then at some point I’ll probably also read the other duology in this world that has my new favourite character in it.

Set in a fantasy world inspired by Imperial Russia, Shadow and Bone sees Alina Starkov, a mapmaker in the army, suddenly learn she has a dormant but extraordinary power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. She’s whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling, and soon she learns nothing is what it seems as she may be in more danger than she realised.

Shadow and Bone is my least favourite in the trilogy. I think it’s partly because it’d been a while since I’ve read fantasy, and while it’s still a genre I like, just getting in that YA fantasy mindset took some time. Also because of general internet osmosis, I knew going into it who was the big villain so I was kind of just waiting for that to be revealed too.

That being said, I think it did a great job of introducing the really interesting magic system. I liked the fact that while the Grisha are powerful, they have their limitations. They aren’t all powerful in all types of magic, there’s three different types of magic and they each have the skills for one type. How the magic and the history of this warring country is woven into the story is done well as there never seems a moment where you’re just listening to a history lesson. A lot of the time, you’re learning about things the same time as Alina is. This continues throughout the next two books and it makes the story all the richer for it.

The dynamic between Alina and the Darkling gets more interesting in each book but its here that all that important foundation is set. Their relationship verges on creepy a lot of times in the book before characters intentions are clear, and it gives their interactions an unsettling edge. Their powers compliment one another so they often appear to have the whole two sides of the same coin deal going on.

I gave Shadow and Bone 3/5.

Siege and Storm is my favourite in the trilogy. It feels like almost non-stop action and even when it’s not there’s more political intrigue as Alina learns to navigate the court and starts to become a leader which is just as gripping.

I thought the pacing in Siege and Storm was excellent and how it introduced new characters and new aspects of this world was nicely done. Here you see more of the technology of this country, not only are there pirate ships but also these aircraft which are unlike anything we’ve seen in these books before. The mixture of technology and science/magic in this world is really interesting.

Also, Siege and Storm introduces one of my favourite characters I’ve read in a long, long time – Sturmhond. He is clever and charming but also ambitious and ruthless, and I pretty much loved everything he said. As you learn more about him you see how he’s a man of many faces. He’s almost a chameleon as he can fit in in any social or political situation and often can get people to agree with him. I just loved him a lot.

I gave Siege and Storm 5/5.

Ruin and Rising is a near perfect end to this trilogy. Like Siege and Storm, I read it in two sittings because I was instantly pulled into the story because of the characters and the cliffhangers at the end of each book. While Alina has formed various bonds over the course of the previous two books, in this one there’s almost a family of choice trope happening as Alina and her small band of survivors fight to stick together and to do the right thing. The final act almost seemed to feel rushed. Throughout the book Alina had been working towards one goal but then that changed suddenly and, while there were possible hints in the previous book her original goal had still been an overarching theme, it made the final showdown seem more of a Plan B and it didn’t quite have the same effect.

I gave Ruin and Rising 4/5.

Overall, I really enjoyed this trilogy. Alina is a great and believable heroine. She acts to things how you’d think any sane person would react, she’s constantly learning from her mistakes and evolving into a powerful leader as she accepts and relishes in her newfound power. The rest of the characters are great too. As I’ve said, Sturmhond is my favourite but how some of the secondary or minor characters are allowed to develop is really cool as you see sides to them you wouldn’t have expected to begin with. While Alina’s closest relationship is with her best friend Mal, there’s a lot of good dynamics and friendships between female characters in these books which I always appreciate.

The Grisha trilogy is, on the whole, fast-paced, action-packed, and has compelling characters and a vivid world. I can see why these books have become so well loved and I’m definitely looking forward to the Netflix show.

REVIEW: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

six of crowsCriminal Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond what he could ever imagine but to claim it he has to pull off a seemingly impossible heist. He must break into a military stronghold that’s never been breached, retrieve a hostage that seems to be a mad scientist who could unleash magical havoc on the world and survive long enough to collect the money. Kaz puts together a six man crew and together they might just pull off the impossible if they don’t kill each other first.

I love stories about heists and this one is set in the world of the Grisha Trilogy, a trilogy that I haven’t actually read. But after hearing that even though it was in the same world, you don’t have to have read the original trilogy as there was no big crossovers or important plot points to know, I was eager to read Six of Crows. Having read it I can say the only thing I felt I sometimes missed having not read the Grisha trilogy was how the Grisha powers worked and what the different nationalities meant and valued. Still, as I got into Six of Crows I soon picked it up but I was a bit confused to begin with because it really is an intricate world.

The crew in Six of Crows follows the usual tropes you’ve seen in any heist movie or story before. There’s the mastermind (Kaz), the demolitions expert (Wylan), the inside man (Matthias), the sharp shooter (Jesper), the spy (Inej) and the one with a very special set of skills (Nina). While they all fit these roles they all aren’t just those archetypes. You begin Six of Crows not knowing much about any of these characters and it’s not till the half way point that you think you have a grasp on them. As the book progresses you learn more about each characters backstory and why they are the criminal they are. The way these characters bounce off each other is a highlight of the book, Jesper is the joker of the group and always has a sarcastic comment – I won’t lie, he’s my favourite closely followed by Inej.

Like any heist, nothing really goes according to plan for Kaz and his crew and quite often you, like some of the characters, are in the dark about what the plan actually is. That makes it gripping and exciting as you’re never sure if they’ll succeed and if they’ll all come out of it unscathed.

Six of Crows is a great example of the heist genre, full of twists and turns and with an ending like that I can’t wait for the sequel. 4/5.