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Shadow and Bone (Grisha Trilogy) Hardcover – June 5, 2012
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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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 onelonely 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.
- Format: Hardcover
- Publication Date: 6/5/2012
- Pages: 368
- Reading Level: Age 12 and Up
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Alina is also extremely naive, something that you don’t often see in someone who has experienced several life tragedies. Now could someone take advantage of her because she has low self-esteem and responds to very minor positive attention yes, but I didn’t feel like Darkling did that? In fact her interaction with him was mostly trauma and neglect so I didn’t feel her obsessing over him really fit. She also seems to worry constantly over what Mal is thinking about her and since they grew up together and have done everything together I don’t think that much angst would exist. I know some people think this is a love triangle going on but I don’t think it is at all. These side story relationship issues made Alina’s character a lot less likable; if she would have evolved overtime it would have been alright but she is pretty static.
If we could have left Alina’s internal commentary out and just focused on the saving the world part of the story line I think it would have been a much more enjoyable read. The world building was a bit weak and so was the character development. We really don’t get enough of a picture of why Darkling is doing what he does and we don’t get a lot of depth from Alina other than her concerns about her appearance. Mal is also pretty glossed over and you like him mostly because Alina doesn’t think he’s a bad guy. Darkling I think is our big bad guy but most of the time I’m not really sure of that, Darkling is likely the most complex character in this story and he is probably the most interesting. Some of these gaps might get filled in with the next book but I’m not so sure.
The place names are Slavic inspired but I don’t think things are really based on Slavic storytelling; it’s more to be exotic for us English speakers. People are getting drunk all the time on kvas which really doesn’t get people drunk; I know this is a fantasy story but if you are going to use a real beverage in it this becomes a research error. I don’t speak Russian so any bad use of the language doesn’t really affect me but I have heard if you do speak Russian it will drive you crazy.
This book is YA in that there is very limited undescriptive kissing; the violence is mostly non graphic other than one scene. The characters are not teens even though the author tries to give the characters the emotional development of a teen. I’m not sure I want to continue on with this series yet, there is parts that were entertaining, I do like Darkling’s character but there is just as much too much page time dedicated to appearance.
The book left me bored, and was fairly predicable. It did not really do anything exciting in even filling out the checklist of items in a generic fantasy novel. Magic just makes you tired, eventually. Dark guy who uses magical darkness turns out to be (spoiler warning) evil. Your one true love turns out to be your childhood friend, who shows up to save you at the right moment.
The magic system is particularly a mess, where sometimes being in a magic sphere of light surrounded by magical shadow means that you can be seen, but the people in the shadow can't, and sometimes it means just the opposite. The main character has mirrors to use to reflect light into people's eyes, which also does not make any sense. If you can control light enough to direct it into the mirror at the right angle to get into someone's eyes, then you can also direct it right into someone's eyes, no mirror required. And for all that the rest of the system talks about like being attracted to like, for some unexplained reason if you're powerful enough you can cut through things.
The ending is where the book really broke for me in multiple ways (so there are spoilers here). There's a moment where the main character expresses that they'd rather die than help do evil. And then really don't do anything more to resist helping, even when left unguarded for hours. There's no effort at all to let anyone know things are wrong, or to try and break the collar that's being used to control them, or to actually go through with dying first. That sort of passivity followed by a miraculous "The rules of magic changed. Look how super powerful I am now!" moment left me cold.
The book left me a little bit curious about where things go from where it ends, but not enough that I'd actually trudge through another book in the series.
I won’t be buying the rest of this trilogy, but rather waiting for the author to write new works.