Series: The Grisha Trilogy #1
Publisher: Square Fish (2012)
Paperback (372 pages)
Also by this author: Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising, Six of Crows
Also in this series: Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising
Reading Challenges: Read 2015
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.
Find the book: Goodreads
I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. The cover and the names gave away the Russian connection and I knew there was some type of magic going on. That was about it. I totally did not expect to love this book as much as I did.
Alina is so real. She is sassy and smart. She makes mistakes and she gets conflicted. I love it all. All she ever was was an orphan, a nobody. She had nothing in the world except her friend, Mal. She has never really belonged. Then one day Alina shows this amazing talent and is whisked away to a life of luxury while she learns to control her power.
There is the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha (magic worker). He is basically running the country even though he is technically second to the king. However, the king really has no idea what is going on in the country and so the Darkling makes the decisions. He has all these great sounding plans for Alina’s future until she discovers the truth.
Mal has been Alina’s friend since they were orphans together as children. (Every time his name popped up, I started thinking Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Serenity.) Mal is an excellent tracker and ultimately the only person that Alina can trust unreservedly. I love him!
The Fold, or Unsea, is a bit hard for me to picture. I keep seeing some pitch black desert at night with scary monsters lurking everywhere. I suppose that is kind of accurate but I feel there is something that I am missing.
In order to analyze the text and make these connections, there may be some spoilers.
Please do not continue reading unless you have already read the book
or you don’t mind if you read some spoilers.
This story has the classic good versus evil going on. There is Alina with her Sun Summoning versus the darkness of the Unsea. I love the symbolism that Alina is summoning light, the Sun, to overcome the darkness. It is very reminiscent of the opening of John’s Gospel:
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
Mal is willing to sacrifice everything for Alina. He walks away from a life where he was comfortable to work on the side of what is right with Alina.
The Darkling strikes me with some disturbing parallels to the devil. He is manipulative and controlling. He lies and twists things to suit his purposes, even corrupting what could have been good just to get his way. Sometimes you can’t see the manipulation until you know it is there but then it is rather obvious.
Then there is mention of going to Mass and priests and saints. Here is my Theology-degree side coming out, but I wish we knew more of the Church. I am guessing it is more Russian Orthodox based on the context but I’m not sure.
I know that none of these comparisons are perfect and I doubt the author intended such connections. This is simply my own opinions and views on the matter.
- You Read How Many Books? Reading Challenge