The boy and the girl had both known loss, and their grief did not leave them. Sometimes he would find her standing by a window, fingers playing in the beams of sunlight that streamed through the glass, or sitting on the front steps of the orphanage, staring at the stump of the oak next to the drive. Then he would go to her, draw her close, and lead her to the shores of Trivka’s pond, where the insects buzzed and the grass grew high and sweet, where old wounds might be forgotten.
She saw sadness in the boy too. Though the woods still welcomed him, he was separate from them now, the bond born into his bones burned away in the same moment that he’d given up his life for her.
But then the hour would pass, and the teachers would catch them giggling in a dim hallway or kissing by the stairs. Besides, most days were too full for mourning. There were classes to teach, meals to prepare, letters to write. When evening fell, the boy would bring the girl a glass of tea, a slice of lemon cake, an apple blossom floating in a blue cup. He would kiss her neck and whisper new names in her ear: beauty, beloved, cherished, my heart.
They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things—if love can ever be called that.
1. The connection between Alina and the Darkling has changed in Ruin and Rising. How? Why? What does this change mean for each of them and how does it affect the events of the book?
2. Genya undergoes a big physical transformation throughout the series. How does her personality change too? What does Genya mean when she says, “I am not ruined. I’m ruination”?
3. What does the Apparat want from Alina? What methods does he use to try to manipulate her? How does she manipulate him?
4. What motives might the Darkling have for telling Alina his real name? How does she use this knowledge?
5. Alina says that David’s crime is a hunger for knowledge, not power. How does David’s way of thinking help and hurt Alina’s cause? How is David different from Morozova, and how is he the same?
6. Nikolai and Alina are allies. What are his reasons for wanting to marry her? How does she feel about those reasons and the idea of being his queen?
7. Why does Baghra decide to tell Alina the story of her childhood? How does it help Alina? What part of the story does Alina misinterpret and why do you think she makes this mistake?
8. Alina and Zoya start out as enemies. How does their relationship change? Why does Alina choose Zoya to be one of the people to lead the Grisha at the end of the story?
9. What happens to Alina’s power at the end of the book? Why? How does this affect her future and her understanding of her past?
10. Why does Harshaw choose to fight on Alina’s side? Why do Tolya and Tamar stay loyal to her? What are the motives of some of her other allies?
11. What are the Darkling’s strengths as a leader? Why do people choose to follow him? Why does Sergei make the choice that he does?
12. Alina and Mal have a long history together. How does this influence their friendship? Their romance? How does it make their relationship stronger? How does it hold them back?
13. Why does the Darkling choose to punish Nikolai the way that he does? How does Nikolai’s transformation affect him, both physically and mentally, by the end of the book?
For my father, Harve—
Sometimes our heroes don’t make it to the end.
A few years back, I started a journey into the dark with a girl who didn’t yet have a name. I’ve been lucky to have wonderful people holding me up and cheering me on every step of the way.
The funny thing about the trick Alina pulls by bending light is that it’s one of the most sound bits of science in these books. In the real world, it’s called “invisibility cloak technology” (which makes me happy on a lot of levels). Google it, and prepare to have your mind blown. Peter Bibring suggested it to me, and Tomikyana is named after his daughter Iris Tommiko. Harper Seiko: I promise to get your name into the next book. I also need to shout out Peter’s wife, Michelle Chihara, who is my dear friend and a wonderful writer. When the Grisha trilogy sold to Henry Holt, I danced in her kitchen. That is not a euphemism. Many thanks to John Williams for the spark that led to the acoustic blanket.
Noa Wheeler and I have haggled over titles, bonded over books, and colluded over dumplings. Thank you for making the hard work so much fun. Huge thanks also to Jon Yaged, Jean Feiwel, Laura Godwin, Angus Killick, Elizabeth Fithian, Lucy del Priore, April Ward, Rich Deas, Allison Verost, the relentlessly patient Molly Brouillette, and the wonderful Ksenia Winnicki and Caitlin Sweeny, who have done so much to promote the trilogy online. I also want to say a special thank-you to Veronica Roth, John Picacio, Michael Scott, Lauren DeStefano, and Rick Riordan, who have been very kind to me and these books.
TEAM NEW LEAF
Joanna Volpe, thank you for being a brilliant agent, a wonderful friend, and for scaring the crap out of me in a hotel room in Belfast. Thanks to Kathleen Ortiz for taking the Grisha international and for putting up with my absurd approach to contracts and travel plans; Pouya Shabazian for laughing at my goofy jokes and helping me navigate the wilds of Hollywood; and Danielle Barthel and Jaida Temperly for manning the barricades with grace and good humor.
TEAM AWESOME LADIES
Morgan Fahey has been an amazing reader and has kept me company with late-night chats and email hilarity. Thank you for talking the Leighyore off many a ledge. Sarah Mesle helped me wade through so many plot woes, and I will never forget our New Year’s Eve bunker chat—SkyMall! Kayte Ghaffar, aka Empress of Swag, aka Master Fabrikator, aka Smartypants: I don’t know what I would have done without you as conspirator and confidante. Many thanks to Cindy Pon, Marie Rutkoski, Robin Wasserman, Amie Kaufman, Jennifer Rush, Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and Marie Lu for encouragement, gossip, and inspiration. Also, to Emmy Laybourne, Jessica Brody, and Anna Banks—I feel like we’ve been to summer camp or possibly war together, and I loved every minute of it. Special thanks to Holly Black, who broke me down and built me back up again in the space of a single cab ride. She has powers, people. I’m just saying.
TEAM LOS ANGELES
Love and gratitude to Ray Tejada, Austin Wilkin, and Rachel Tejada of Ocular Curiosity (aka the League of Unplumbable Fun!). David and Erin Peterson are my favorite power couple—thank you for being so generous with your talent and time. Rachael Martin makes a damn fine date ball, and Robyn Bacon is the woman to trust when it comes to JUSTICE. Jimmy Freeman has coddled me with kindness, encouragement, and hospitality. Gretchen McNeil is a marvelous convention roommate, and for such a Marianne, she’s awfully full of great advice. Big thanks to Dan Braun, Brandon Harvey, Liz Hamilton, Josh Kamensky, Heather Joy and the wee Phoebe, Aaron Wilson and Laura Recchi, Michael Pessah, the ridiculously badass Christina Strain, Romi Cortier, Tracey Taylor, Lauren Messiah, Mel Caine, Mike DiMartino, and Kurt Mattila, who got me hooked on comics all over again. Brad Farwell, you don’t live in Los Angeles, but you didn’t fit into any of the other categories. Jerk.
TEAM BOOK PUSHER
Huge thanks to the librarians, teachers, bloggers, and booksellers who helped these books find their readers. And as always, love to the Brotherhood without Banners who welcomed me into one of the most supportive and generous fandoms around. They also throw the best parties.
Some people supported the Grisha Trilogy early and must be paid due tribute: Irene Koh, who changed the way I see my own characters; Kira, aka eventhepartofyouthatlovedhim, who blogged early and often; the wonderful ladies of the Grisha Army; Emily Pursel, Laura Maldonado, Elena of Novelsounds, Laura and Kyra, and Madeleine Michaud, who writes the very best asks. There are so many more of you who have made graphics and fanmixes, who have created art and fic, who have chatted with me, and inspired me, and kept me going. Thank you for making this journey so much more magical.
Christine, Sam, Ryan, Emily—I love you guys. Shem, you are
an amazing artist and the best possible person to see New York with. And finally, all the love and thanks to my adorable, wonderful mumsy, who cried at the right scenes and has learned to speak fluent narwhal.
Dear Marvelous Readers,