Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy comes to a thunderous conclusion.
If opener Shadow and Bone (2012) was a magical coming-of-age story and middle-volume Siege and Storm (2013) was a political thriller, then this third book is an epic quest. Together with faithful childhood friend and would-be lover Mal and the last few remnants of the rebellious Grisha who aided her in the failed rising against the Darkling, Alina leaves the dubious protection of the Rasputin-like Apparat and the zealots who hail her as a saint to go looking for tsarevich Nikolai and for the fabled firebird. They seek Nikolai as the last political hope for Ravka’s future and the firebird for the third amplifier that will make Sun Summoner Alina invincible against the Darkling and powerful enough to unmake the Unsea that divides Ravka in two. Neither quest is easy or obvious, as Bardugo places obstacles both physical and emotional in Alina’s path at every turn. She is most successful at delineating Alina’s internal conflict as she struggles to balance love for Mal against both pragmatism and fondness for Nikolai, desire for peace and justice against naked lust for power. Secondary characters truly come into their own here, particularly the ragtag band of Alina’s Grisha, in whose friendship she finds salvation. Every time readers may think she’s written herself into a corner, Bardugo pulls off a twist that, while surprising, will keep them turning pages furiously.
Triumphant. (Fantasy. 13 & up)