This is a trilogy that I flew through in just a few days. It was THAT good. While the dystopian theme is overly popular and can be poorly done, this particular story was very unique.
Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
“Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life–a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.”
I actually loved all of the characters in this series, which is rare. Alina is brave, tough, resourceful, smart, loyal and funny. She came from nothing but she is definitely something! We don’t get to know Mal very well until later in the first book, and although it takes some time, I come to love him as well. The guy is tough as nails but loves to the death. Then there’s The Darkling. Oh The Darkling. I can’t even get into my feelings on him because it would reveal spoilers. Let’s just say you will feel torn about him. There is a long list of minor characters that I found myself wishing were my real friends. I want Tamar and Tolya to be my best buds! And Genya too. And Nikolai. And and and…
I now want to be Grisha and you will too. They are people with special powers, “masters of the small science,” who serve their country with their abilities. There are several different types and different levels of Grisha. Some can heal, some can stop another person’s heart, some can summon the elements of water, wind or fire, etc. They’re pretty much awesome. I thought the whole idea and execution of this world was very well done.
The setting was inspired by a version of dystopian Russia. I want to stress the word “inspired.” Some reviews are critical of the Russian theme and that it isn’t perfectly, exactly accurate in regard to every reference. Well here’s the thing. It isn’t a travel book about Russia. It’s a work of fiction that was INSPIRED by Russian culture and geography. I thoroughly enjoyed this setting and found it refreshing among a sea of books set in dystopian United States.
I was so engrossed in this story and couldn’t put it down until I finished the series. I lost a lot of sleep and fingernails! The plot was totally unique and imaginative. Best of all, I was thrilled with the ending. There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a series you’re enjoying, only to be throttled by a terrible ending. Two enthusiastic thumbs up for all three books!
Go read these for yourself and come back to discuss!