The GRISHA trilogy is set in a poor country by the name of Ravka, a land geographically divided by a mystic land called the Shadow Fold inhabited by Shadow-creatures and plagued with darkness. The Ravkan kingdom is protected against its northern Fjerdan enemies and southern Shu Han enemies by two different armies that fight side by side. One army is under the protection of the king, whilst the other is lead by The Darkling. The Second Army is comprised of Grisha, which are people with special powers. Our story begins in the first army, where the orphans Alina and Mal end up as they grow up. When they are forced to cross the Shadow Fold and the Shadow-creatures close in on them, Alina’s Grisha-abilities flare up to save them. Her abilities turn out to be different than anyone else’s making her alike only one other person, The Darkling. This friendship introduces her to many new people and drives other old friends away but Alina is put at odds on more than one point.
One of the best aspects of the story are the characters, a writing trait that carries into Bardugo’s Six of Crows. Alina and Mal are a protagonist duo I won’t forget for a long time. I love how Bardugo de-dramatises love and relationship in the face of the end of the fucking world! It’s quite rare to find a book where female characters are written with a bit of sense and I know it’s appreciated by a lot of fellow readers. Although love is made to be all-powerful it’s not messy or sloppy or problematic. An amazing realisation Alina makes is when a male character she is infatuated with kisses another girl and she gets upset with the girl. Instead of having a grudge and following in the footsteps of other books it surprised me by explaining how dumb women hating women is. ALINA, YOU’RE DOING AMAZING SWEETIE!
Siege and Storm, the second book in the Grisha trilogy, was probably my favourite out of the three especially because of Sturmhond, one of the best characters in the series. The story started out in Novyi Zem that I have been looking forward to read more about ever since I was introduced to Jasper in Six of Crows! What made the book such a solid 5/5 read for me was the dynamic between Alina and the male characters surrounding her. It was heavily reminiscent of that scene in The Crown where Prince Charles refuses to Queen Elizabeth by asking “Are you my wife or my queen?” and her reply being “I am both, and a strong man would be able to kneel to both.” FUCK IT UP, QUEEN! Despite teh fact that everyone acknowledges Alina’s power and progress by the second book, there is still some patriarchal confusion which she crushes easily. The second installation is a strong as fuck book as well as the most feminist and anti-patriarchal part of the trilogy and I loved it.
The third book was where it started going so and so for me… The plot twists and turns were great, amazing, unmistakable perfect, but the rest and the in between kind of dragged. Some of the things I thought should have been resolved in the first book, there were too many things kind of crammed into the book that didn’t belong to the story. It felt a bit forced, especially when it was placed in the middle of the book, almost as if to fill out the pages. But it did leave the last third of the book for other issues to be resolved that were many… The wrap up was well done, many things fell into the right places but, I still feel like the end was too simple. I wanted way more and way more deaths but I bet other readers were satisfied with the end that was happy and positive. Well, I’m just a pessimistic mess and only death can cure my soul…
It is hard not to compare it to Six of Crows especially since it’s within the same universe. My mistake was to read SoC before this Grisha-trilogy which kind of made the series… underwhelming. Six of Crows is my favourite YA fantasy of all time, OF ALL TIME! Therefore, I found myself feeling that the trilogy kind of dragged and that the language was dull. The ending did nothing for me and if it weren’t for characters like Alina, Mal and my favourite protagonist Sturmhond then I probably wouldn’t even have bothered to finish the series. The book was heavily plot- and character-driven, the plot was okay and easily to predict. The plot made it feel more middlegrade than YA and as much as I love middlegrade I was in the mood for something more… adult.
Ultimately, I think the series was really good. Probably a 5/5, but due to expectations from previous reading and lack of current interest in genre it demoted it to a 4/5.