by Leigh Bardugo
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Gently, he took my face in his hands. “I would have been different too, without you. Weaker, reckless.” He smiled slightly. “Afraid of the dark.” He brushed the tears from my cheeks. I wasn’t sure when they’d started. “But no matter who or what I was, I would have been yours.”
Well, for a girl who forgot almost everything, I grew incredibly attached to this story and all these characters all over again. Very rarely will you hear me praise all the male leads in the story, especially if all the male leads are after the same thing: the female lead’s heart. But, in this trilogy, I loved each and every male who was a contender for Alina’s affections. And I think this is why I love this trilogy so much-how often can you say, with absolute certainty, that you would be happy no matter who she ended up with? This is the first time that has ever happened to me. I loved two very much, and one even more for his fearless and noble heart, but I loved all three enough that I swooned for each of their comments, trials, misfortunes, and declarations of love-and not in that order.
Ruby was talking to Mal, her smile broad, her expression avid. But Mal was watching me. In the ghostly light of the cavern, his eyes were a deep and steady blue, the color at the center of a flame.
Three males, you ask?? Well, I believe there was only ever one right outcome for Alina, but that’s not how life goes. We don’t always get that fairy-tale ending where everything ends as it should….but there are many variations that can lead to a happy life, it just might not be what you’ve always wanted.
“We’re going to be traveling together for who knows how long. Eventually, you’re going to have to talk to me.”
“I’m talking to you right now.”
“See? Is this so terrible?”
“It wouldn’t be,” he said, gazing at me steadily, “if all I wanted to do was talk.”
Alina’s life has changed drastically over the last year-once an abandoned orphan with no one to call mom or dad, with only Mal by her side, she is now a powerful Grisha-a Sun Summoner who people follow and claim to be a saint. And there are even bigger stakes on the line than she could have imagined…with the Darkling after her, Mal, and Nikolai, the race to the firebird is crucial-she already has the sea whip and stag, but where is that third amplifier? Does it even exist? And, most importantly, is she willing to risk possibly the only thing she’s ever loved for this final amplifier that will give her the power to destroy the Darkling? Is she willing to pay the price for that sacrifice?
“It’s true,” I said softly. “You are stronger, wiser, infinite in experience.” I leaned forward and whispered, my lips brushing the shell of his ear. “But I am an apt pupil.”
His eyes flew open. I caught the briefest glimpse of rage in his gray gaze before I severed the connection.
I think that’s been a large part of these stories-what is she willing to sacrifice in the name of power and the ability to take down the evil that has plagued their world since before she was even born? Why her? This little orphan that no one knew is now one of the most powerful people of their time….why her?
I wanted to scream, so I did. I tossed my kindling to the ground, pressed my fist to my mouth, and screamed until my throat was raw. I couldn’t stop. I’d managed not to weep on the Bittern or at the mine, but now I sank to the forest floor, my screams turning into sobs, silent, racking gasps. They hurt, as if they might crack my ribs open, but emerged soundless from my lips.
I’m horrible at re-capping fantasy novels with their special words and phrases and summarizing the battles and the towns/cities/countries they occupy-even above I don’t know if I labeled Alina correctly, mind you-but what I DO love to do in my reviews, is talk about da boyz…I’m a GIRL, okaayyyyy?
“I need to keep you safe, Alina, to stay focused on what matters. I can’t do that if…” He let out a long breath. “You were meant for more than me, and I’ll die fighting to give it to you. But please don’t ask me to pretend it’s easy.”
As I mentioned, there were three guys scattered throughout the series and they all had a special meaning or purpose. Mal was her longtime friend from back when they were orphans-they grew up together and she was always in love with him…but until the day she was taken away by the Darkling, Mal had never ‘seen’ her. It took her being taken away for him to realize what she meant to him. Mal is so sweet and loyal and above all-madly in love Alina. Then there’s the Darkling (Is the T in ‘The Darkling’ capitalized or not, damn it?? GAWWWWD I suck at these fancy terms, lol) who whisked her away for her undiscovered talent-he took a liking to her and seduced her countless times…seducing me right along with her with his dark, whispered promises and sultry, dark persona-I loved him and his evil self. And then Nikolai-we met him in book two. I don’t think he’s a person people expect her to end up with, but every time he enters a scene, he does it with a style and flare that no one can match. His wit, banter, and altogether sexy persona were enough to make me laugh every time he entered, but he also had a kind, sweet side that I don’t want to pass over. All these guys were so great in their own ways…dark and tortured, sweet and tortured, hilarious and sweet and tortured….doesn’t matter-I don’t see how anyone could hate any of these awesome men.
Nikolai considered this, then said, “Very well.”
“That’s it? No sage words? No dire warnings?”
“Saints, Alina. I hope you weren’t looking to me to be the voice of reason. I keep to a strict diet of ill-advised enthusiasm and heartfelt regret.”
One thing I didn’t expect from myself, and I will be abundantly clear-I bawled. I bawled at the end of it all, for the good, the bad, the sad, the inevitable….I cried for it all. And I totally didn’t see it coming. I cried so hard when (view spoiler)[she stabbed Mal and the life leaked out of him as she sobbed, because, well, I ADORED him. (hide spoiler)] Oh, but I SOBBED when (view spoiler)[she had to kill the Darkling. I don’t know why it hit me so hard, because it was inevitable, wasn’t it? But I wanted him to redeem himself-it KILLED me as she lay there sobbing with her two guys dead and dying around her. It KILLED me. Then Mal takes a breath and I sobbed some more. ‘Cuz wasn’t it ALWAYS supposed to be her and Mal?? The two orphans who were there for each other through it all and only found love once they were separated? Then to find she had to kill him to get the third amplifier?? What kind of sick star-crossed love was THAT???? And then Darkling’s (screw the T, I’m OVER IT) funeral-as she whispered ‘Aleksander’ as he was burned alongside ‘herself.’ GAWD. Even the fact that he wanted to give her his real name (hide spoiler)] gave me the hardcore feels. Everything about this book was perfection, and I couldn’t have asked for a more emotional conclusion and beautiful ending.
He laughed then. “I know I’m supposed to say something noble-I want a united Ravka free from the Fold. I want the Darkling in the ground, where he can never hurt you or anyone else again.” He gave a rueful shake of his head. “But I guess I’m the same selfish ass I’ve always been. For all my talk of vows and honor, what I really want is to put you up against that wall and kiss you until you forget you ever knew another man’s name. So tell me to go, Alina. Because I can’t give you a title or an army or any of the things you need.”
I’ve waited and waited and waited for this conclusion and here it was… I got so nervous as I started reading because, DAMN THOSE INTRICATE DETAILS I FORGOT, I couldn’t think of a damn thing when it came to names that weren’t Alina or Genya or Darkling or Mal, lol. But as I REALLY immersed myself into the story, those little details didn’t matter as much because the story re-capped and spoke for itself-Thank God, because I would have been depressed if I hadn’t been able to enjoy the story because I was too lazy to re-read the first two. I think it would have helped, sure, right off the bat, but as it was, I truly loved the story and couldn’t get enough. I’m so glad the conclusion was as epic as I’d hoped it would be, because no matter how many tears I shed, I will always remember these characters and their story.