Ruin and Rising was a great book, don't get me wrong. But it was very much Mal's story.
That slowed the book down for me a bit, since I was never really a big Mal fan. He has his moments, sure, but to me he was one of the blander characters. Why not hear more about David, or Harshaw and Oncat instead? Even in the context of the love...square...Mal had much more page time than Nikolai and the Darkling combined.
Mal was even the best developed character in the story (with Baghra coming in as a close second). We finally get to find out what's up with his insane tracking skillz, and I had kind of guessed where that plot line was going. I was very glad that the issue resolved itself in that manner, rather than the idea that was initially presented. About the lineage of Morozova, I mean.
I'll admit that the focus on Mal wasn't the only reason it took me so long to get through this book. Part of me didn't want to read it. I just...I didn't want the story to end, you know?
But, I kicked myself and made myself finish the book, so that I could move on to the next in a looming stack of books I need to read. And the ending was...satisfying. There weren't really any surprises about how everything turned out, but I won't begrudge the story its happily ever after. Even if it did take several deaths to get there. I understand why most of them had to happen. Even if many of them did make me very sad.
The side characters were where this book really shined. David, Genya, Zoya, and Harshaw were absolutely amazing, and they all had more characterization in this one book than in the previous two combined. I had liked David and Harshaw before, but I LOVED them after this book, and I loved that they were finally given personalities beyond "he's eccentric".
It was also nice to see the Darkling's character arc come to its logical conclusion. He started off in the first book as an untouchable god, and slowly, bit by bit, the facade he had built up around himself was stripped away, until the end, where all that was left was his humanity.
Despite the predictability of the last book, and the shift in focus onto Mal, The Grisha is definitely up there on my list of favorite series of all time. And I eagerly await whatever comes next.