Series: The Grisha Trilogy #1
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 5th 2012
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.
Kate has been raving about this one since she finished it and I couldn't wait to dig into it. I was in the mood for a nice fantasy and ended up reading this one straight through.
I liked Alina right off the bat. She's a girl who has her flaws and her strengths and you get that sense quickly. Her best friend and somewhat love interest also had his flaws. Mal is a good looking guy, but doesn't seem to see how Alina likes him more than a friend. I love how their past pulls them together, yet growing up and becoming adults has pulled them slowly apart.
But we'll get back to those two in a moment. Let's talk about the world. This world is that of kings and Grisha, who are magic users that follow the Darkling, the most powerful of all Grisha. The Grisha are beautiful magic wielders that have their own special abilities. The world this book is set in is torn apart by the Fold, a horrible crevice in the middle of the kingdom where dangerous creatures spill out of. And it's that part that Alina and Mal are at, trying to cross with the army. Alina is a mapmaker and Mal is a tracker in the army and Alina is especially weary of the Fold and trying to cross it. Her foreboding is correct when they are attacked by flying creatures that nearly kill Alina, Mal coming to her protection only to have both of them in danger of dying. Because this happens, Alina reveals a gift that has remained hidden in her. She can summon the power of the sun and does so to protect them from imminent death.
The Darkling discovers her power and she is taken to safety before their enemies find out about her power, a power that could equal the Darkling's own and help save their kingdom from the Fold. And that is really just the beginning of Alina's journey. She finds herself in court and dealing with problems she has never had to face before. Not everything is as seems and Alina must figure out which path she will take. I simply loved this book. I was entranced by the world surrounding Alina and she has a character comparable to some of Tamora Pierce's female characters.
It has been a while since I read a novel this stunning and this probably is going to be my favorite read of 2012. I'm not sure anything can top it. I love that this book ended at a good point, no big cliffhanger but still leaving the reader with many questions that will hopefully be answered in the trilogy.