Shadow and Bone / Siege and Storm / Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
I'm condensing my review of these three novels into one, as I read them one after the other and I think I'd struggle to separate my thoughts on each.
My favourite thing about this trilogy is definitely the strength of the world building. It is phenomenally well thought out, with different countries, customs, languages and, of course, magic. I think Grisha power was very well defined and it's limitations explored and explained. I knew a little bit about Grisha magic from reading Six of Crows, but it was nice to see it as the main focus in these books.
My favourite character was Nikolai, as he had such a fun and distinctive personality. But I also liked the time that was given to the Darkling's backstory; he was a well defined villain and Bardugo does an excellent job of humanising him at the end.
“Watch yourself, Nikolai,” Mal said softly. “Princes bleed just like other men.”
Nikolai plucked an invisible piece of dust from his sleeve. “Yes,” he said. “They just do it in better clothes.”
As with Six of Crows, the dialogue is really strong, and there are witty exchanges a-plenty, particularly where Nikolai was concerned and I repeatedly found myself laughing out loud.
“I took a breath. “Your highness—”
“Nikolai,” he corrected. “But I’ve also been known to answer to ‘sweetheart’ or ‘handsome.”
Overall, I don't think I enjoyed this series quite as much as Six of Crows, (I preferred the characters in the latter) but I would still definitely recommend it.
“Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay. I tilted my head back. The stars looked like they were close together, when really they were millions of miles apart. In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach.”