Published by Henry Holt and Co on Jun 17, 2014
Genres: High Fantasy, Romance, YA
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
The capital has fallen.
The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.
Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.
Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.
Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.
The third book in a series always has a lot to do. Plot threads need to be wrapped up, the bad guy needs to be dealt with, romances need to be resolved. Maybe that’s why I always feel a little let down by final instalments in a series. There so much the book need to cover, it rarely gives completely satisfying closure.
That’s why this book really surprised me.
It did a great job of wrapping up everything with the primary characters. There wasn’t a ton of action in the book, but I still enjoyed the story. Actually, I was glad the author focused more on interpersonal relationships over action.
One of things I liked about the series to begin with was the characters, and they’re just as charming in this novel. There’s lot of good secondary characters who manage to be, if not totally three dimensional, not clichés or stereotypes either. Lots of them actually get their own little character arcs, and it makes the characters easy to care about. Nikolai was my favorite throughout, even though I was rooting for Alina to end up with Mal, and he was just as entertaining in this novel.
It’s also nice that, as funny as the characters are, they’re still affected by the events of the war and there’s some really good, emotional scenes as they try to work through their emotions. My only complaint is that the character do sort of sound the same, but I like them anyway.
Normally I don’t like love triangles, or quadrangles in this case, but the multiple love interests in this series are very well done. There’s an understandable reason for Alina to feel attracted to all of them (other than all of them being conveniently handsome). Mal is her best friend, Nikolai is charming and could give her the political power she needs, and the Darkling understand her feelings of isolation that come with her unique powers. I liked how complex the love stories were, and the book definitely had me turning pages to see who, if anyone, Alina would end up with. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was very satisfied with how things turned out.
The book’s male leads also get some nice character development, as Mal becomes more mature, Nikolai steps up to be the next king, and we learn more about the Darkling’s past. Overall, I was totally fascinated.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s not a whole lot of fighting and battle scenes in this book, but the final battle was a nail biter, and the tension was still high throughout the whole novel. There was a big twist at the end that I thought could have used a little more foreshadowing, but the ending was still logical and satisfying.
In the end, I thought this was one of the most fun book series I’ve read, and I’m thinking about going back and rereading the first two. Four stars!