“There are no others like us. There never will be.”
– Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising
I have said it once and I will say it again – we are so incredibly lucky to have a wealth of brilliant books at our fingertips. Back in May I was in Lorne and the minute I arrived, I made my way to their fabulous little bookstore. One of the books I bought was Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. It has been sitting on my bookcase since and two weeks ago I picked it up and read it and I was completely blown away! I finished the book in less than twenty-four hours and I had book two ordered two minutes after finishing!
Alina is a pale and lonely orphan who is thrust into a magical world she doesn’t belong in. Along with the help of her best friend Mal, they navigate the treacherous ballrooms of the Royal Court and meet the powerful Grisha – the magical soldiers of the Second Army led by The Darkling. He is a seductive man with terrifying power and an insatiable greed for more. With Alina by his side, he believes that they can rule the world and destroy the Fold, a magical darkness that kills everything that enters its path. What follows is a tale of magic, power, betrayal, revenge and sacrifice – all the great things that make up an exceptional series. I couldn’t stop reading; I finished book two (Siege and Storm) and three (Ruin and Rising) in under forty-eight hours and then grieved that it was all over. I laughed, I cried and I yelled out aloud several times.
There are two things that I love most about this series, the characters and the language. Alina is so different from the current batch of heroines. On the surface she is a little plain and rather weak. However she has an inner strength that even her greatest foes have a begrudging respect for. She isn’t perfect – her confidence wavers and she fails a couple of times. She leads with courage and then she curls up in a ball and cries. Alina is a beautifully crafted character that just makes you want to read her story forever!
The language is also really enjoyable. I suspect there is an eastern European influence in her creation with words like Corporalki, Etherealki and Materialki (soldiers of the Second Army), moi soverenya, moi tsar and moi tsarevitch (addresses to the Royal family) and common words like malenchki (little ghosts), otkazt’sya, lumiya, nichevo’ya, oprichnik and Merzost. Despite not being able to pronounce them all, I love the way they look on the page and for me, they really enhance the magical element of the story with their foreign-ness.
I don’t think anything I write will do this series the justice it deserves. It has easily risen to the top of my favourite fantasy series list. So please, go out and buy yourself a copy! You won’t be disappointed!